With goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand likely out after a horrific injury in Iran’s World Cup opener, back-up Hossein Hosseini has a tough job ahead of Wales and star Gareth Bale.
Iran, which finished last in Group B after losing 6-2 to England, will face Wales on Friday at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Wales: Hennessy; Mepham, Rawdon, Davis; Roberts, Ramsey, Ampadu, Williams; James, Bale; Moore
Iran: Hosseini; Moharrami, Puraliganji, Cheshmi, M. Hosseini, Mohammadi; Jahanbakhsh, Noorollahi, Karimi, Golizade; Taremi
Hosseini already faced intimidating opponents in Qatar when Beiranvand lost the first half of the tournament on Monday before England opened the scoring.
Beiranvand was allowed to continue playing by Iran’s training headquarters after colliding with a teammate, but he later collapsed on the field and was taken to a local hospital.
Iran did not comment on his status, except that he had a nose injury and returned to the team and passed the tests.
The injury brought attention to FIFA’s concussion protocol. If Beiranvand is found to have suffered a concussion, he will be ruled out in accordance with FIFA’s return to play rules.
Iran head coach Carlos Queros was pragmatic after the rout.
“We win or we learn. We had the privilege of learning a lot from the English team,” he said. “To conclude, we are now much better prepared for the game against Wales.”
Bale converted a penalty in the 82nd minute to give Wales a 1–1 draw with the United States in the first leg.
The draw gave Wales a point in their first World Cup match since 1958 and a play-off within reach. Bale, who played for Major League Soccer’s LAFC last season, has now scored 41 goals in 109 international matches.
Bale has struggled with injuries and fitness for most of the year but scored a header for LAFC in the MLS Cup Championship earlier this month. LAFC won on penalties after a 3-3 draw with Philadelphia.
He is not the only threat to Wales. Kieffer Moore, Bournemouth striker, could make his first World Cup start. Moore came on as a second-half substitute against the United States and made an immediate impact.
“He meant a lot to us,” said Welsh manager Rob Page.
Iran, which has qualified for the last two World Cups, has never made the playoffs. And it looks like the team won’t make it this year either.
Iran’s trip to Qatar was marred by riots at home. The country, which is across the Persian Gulf from Qatar, has been rocked by protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while being detained by the vice police for allegedly violating the country’s mandatory dress code for women.
Activists have called for Iran to be excluded from the World Cup before the start of the tournament. In their opening, the Iranians did not sing the country’s national anthem in an apparent show of solidarity with the protesters.
The hardline Iranian media tried to blame the riots for England’s loss. Daily Kaihan said the rout of Iran came after “weeks of unfair and unprecedented psychological warfare against the team … by local and foreign traitors.”
WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH
Where will the World Cup opening match between Wales and Iran start?
The match between Wales and Iran will start at the Ahmed Bil Ali Stadium.
When will the opening match of the World Cup between Wales and Iran start?
The match between Wales and Iran will begin on 25 November 2022 at 03:30 ET.
Where can I watch the match between Wales and Iran in India?
The World Cup opening match between Wales and Iran will be broadcast live on Sports18 and Sports18 HD. On Android and iOS, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be streamed live on JioCinema.
Where can I watch the match between Wales and Iran outside of India?
The following list shows where you can watch Wales vs Iran outside of India:
USA – TV: FOX, Telemundo; Live Stream: fuboTV, Fox Sports App, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo
Canada – TV: STV, TSN; Live streaming: fuboTV, TSN App
United Kingdom – TV: BBC One; Live streaming: BBC iPlayer, BBC sports website.
Australia – TV: SBS; Live Broadcast: SBS on Demand
New Zealand – TV: Sky Sports; Live broadcast: Sky Sport
Malaysia – TV: RTM, Astro; Live Stream: Astro Go
Singapore – TV: Mediacorp Channel 5; Live streaming: StarHub TV+, IPTV, Singtel TV
Hong Kong TV: BeIN Sports, ITV; Live streaming: Now TV, ViuTV
Nigeria – SuperSport and Showmax Pro