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banner Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 13:47 GMT
Iranian football facts
Iran's star striker Ali Daei was on the scoresheet against the UAE
Iran's Ali Daei (right) scored against the UAE
Iran's 4-0 aggregate victory over the United Arab Emirates has booked their place in the World Cup play-offs where they will face Mick McCarthy's Republic of Ireland team.

The Irish will meet Iran in Dublin on 10 November, with the return game scheduled to be in Tehran five days later.

But what kind of an obstacle do Iran present to Ireland's hopes of making it to Korea and Japan in 2002?

BBC Sport Online presents 10 things you probably didn't know about Iranian football.

1. They are coached by Miroslav Blazevic, the man who led Croatia to third place in the 1998 World Cup in France.

2. Iran have previously reached two World Cups, in 1978 in Argentina and 1998 in France.

3. They regularly play in front of 100,000 fanatical supporters in their stadium in Tehran.

4. Their star players include young prospect Ali Kamiri and former Asian Player of the Year Ali Daei.

5. Iran have World Cup play-off experience, having defeated the Terry Venables-coached Australia on away goals, drawing 0-0 in Tehran and 2-2 in Melbourne to secure their place at France 98.

6. Iran's overall World Cup record is one victory, one draw and four defeats.

7. Iran inflicted one of Scotland's biggest World Cup humiliations during the 1978 World Cup, securing a 1-1 draw with a side including stars such as Kenny Dalglish and Archie Gemmill.

8. Former Charlton Athletic defender Karim Bagheri is the only Iranian national team player with Premiership experience.

9. During France 98, Iran defeated the USA 2-1 to claim their first ever World Cup finals victory.

10.The Iranian national league has only been in existence since 1960.

Other top World Cup 2002 stories:

Links to more World Cup 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


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