Iran are fast developing into a powerhouse on the Asian scene and Tahiti 2013 is their fifth visit to the world stage, a figure surpassed only by Japan amongst their continental competitors. Team Melli, however, are yet to make their mark at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, having failed to progress beyond the group stage, although an impressive victory over Spain at Rio 2007 remains a highlight. Iran lost all three of their group matches at Ravenna 2011, albeit by narrow margins.
Iran will be buoyed by their form in qualifying which resulted in a stunning run to the Asian title. Team Melli finished top of their group with the opening stage marked by a record-breaking 20-0 win over Philippines, setting the scene for an avalanche of goals from the beach veterans over the course of the tournament. Iran edged out United Arab Emirates 3-2 in the semi-final to secure passage to French Polynesia, before ending Japan’s reign with an epic penalty shoot-out victory in the decider
Though not possessing a strong track record at global level, Iran have proven their fortitude and combative style on previous visits to the global event. Maiden qualification to the knockout stage will be the primary aim, and hopes of a breakthrough performance in Tahiti remain realistic. The outlet in attack provided by the experienced Moslem Mesigar, who was top goalscorer in the AFC Championship, combined with their undoubted resilience – twice they came from behind to win in qualifying – gives Iran genuine cause for optimism.