Iran build towards World Cup with Togo triumph

Iran’s preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup got underway in fine fashion on Thursday as they claimed a 2-0 friendly win over Togo at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

Following a goalless first half, Karim Ansarifard broke the deadlock in the 51st minute when he made no mistake in finishing on the rebound, after Saman Ghoddos’ initial 20-yard drive had been too hot for Bassa Djeri Sabirou to handle.

Right on the hour mark, Ansarifard made sure of the result as he doubled his and his side’s tally with a poacher’s goal, darting into the six-yard box to convert Omid Ebrahimi’s low cross with a simple finish.

Thursday’s game – Team Melli’s first since the conclusion of their World Cup qualification campaign – was certainly a positive way for them to embark on their final road to Russia 2018.

A tougher test awaits on Tuesday when they take on the Russians at the Kazan Arena, although Iran coach Carlos Queiroz will have a strong squad to pick for, boasting plenty of Europe-based talent such as Ansarifard, Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

Nonetheless, he is also likely to use the opportunity to test some new talent, including the likes of Ghoddos, Kaveh Rezaei and Saeid Aghaei.