Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Republic of Iran, Asia's top ranked side, will have their work cut out for them when they make their second successive FIFA World Cup appearance in Russia next summer, after being drawn to play Spain, Portugal and Morocco in Group B.
Atbin Moayedi, a passionate Iranian fan who supported the team in Brazil at the last FIFA World Cup, spoke to the-AFC.com after the draw, giving his take on Team Melli's group stage opponents.
Q: How would you rate your opponents in Group B?
I think the best team in Group B are Spain. Their track record, having won the European Championships and the World Cup in 2008 and 2010 respectively, speaks for itself. But we all know that they can disappoint, as they did not progress from the group stage in 2014.
In terms of strength, Spain are closely followed by current European champions Portugal, who are captained by the best player in the world. Morocco too are a good team with a coach who has a record of success in Africa.
Q: Which player are you most worried about facing?
In Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal have the best player in the world. We know what he is capable of; he can turn a match around without much help from the rest of his team.
Q: How would you rate your team's chances in light of the draw?
Taking everything into account, I think this is the ‘Group of Death’ in the tournament. But if we can hopefully start off with a win against Morocco and then get a point against Portugal or Spain, while hoping one of them beats the other in their first game, maybe we can progress with four points.
We could do a better job in a slightly easier group, but I think we'll put on a good show. We have an excellent defence that hasn't conceded a goal in 12 games on the trot and we're also unbeaten in 18 games. So, I'll have my fingers crossed!
Group stage schedule
Morocco v Iran
15 June 2018 (18:00)
Saint Petersburg Stadium
Iran v Spain
20 June 2018 (21:00)
Iran v Portugal
25 June 2018 (21:00)
Photos: Lagardère Sports