IR Iran vs Hong Kong, China Match Analysis & Prediction
16/11/2023 5:30 pm
IR Iran will kick off their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign when they take on Hong Kong, China in Thursday’s encounter at Azadi Stadium in Tehran.
Team Melli are looking to reach a fourth successive finals, while the visitors will have to pull of a number of surprise results if they are to qualify for the first time.
After making their first World Cup appearance in 1978, Iran have gone on to reach the finals on five more occasions, including each of the last three tournaments.
In their most recent appearance at football’s biggest tournament, Iran suffered defeats to England and the United States either side of a 2-0 victory over Wales.
The single victory proved to be insuficient, as Iran finished in third place, extending their wait for a first-ever knockout round appearance at a World Cup.
They hope to change that statistic in 2026, but they firstly must successfully navigate their way through qualifying, beginning in the second-round stage with a group featuring Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Hong Kong.
Due to their recent success in World Cup qualifying, Iran will be overwhelming favourites to finish top of Group E, especially as they are yet to lose under Amir Ghalenoei, who has won seven and drawn one of his eight matches in charge.
While Iran are just beginning their journey to the 2026 World Cup, Hong Kong’s qualifying campaign began in August with a first-round playoff tie against Bhutan.
They produced a dominant display in the first leg to claim a 4-0 victory, with all four goals coming in a 25-minute spell through a Michael Udebuluzor brace, a Shinishi Chan strike and an own goal.
Bhutan threatened to pull off a comeback in the return leg when they took a 2-0 lead by the 47th minute, but Jorn Andersen’s side held firm for the remainder of the game to claim a 4-2 aggregate victory.
Having lost five of their last six away matches in World Cup qualifying, Hong Kong will have to produce a huge performance to trouble Iran on Thursday.
IR Iran vs. Hong Kong, China Head to head
Iran have won each of the three previous encounters between these two teams, scoring seven goals while conceding two.
03/12/2006Hong Kong, China1IR Iran2Asian Games
10/09/2019Hong Kong, China0IR Iran2AFC World Cup Qualifiers
03/06/2021IR Iran3Hong Kong, China1AFC World Cup Qualifiers
16/11/2023IR IranN/AHong Kong, ChinaN/AAFC World Cup Qualifiers
IR Iran Team News
Experienced defender Ehsan Hajsafi will captaing his national team, and he could be joined in the back four by Ramin Rezaeian, Shoja Khalilzadeh and Hossein Kanaani.
FC Porto forward Mehdi Taremi is expected to start here, and he will be looking to add to the 39 goals he has scored for his country.
IR Iran's Last 5 Matches
20/06/2023Uzbekistan0IR Iran1CAFA Nations Cup
Hong Kong, China Team News
Michael Udebuluzor, who plays for German club Ingolstadt, is the only current member of the Hong Kong squad to play his domestic football outside Asia.
Having scored two goals in his three international appearance, he is expected to lead the line for the visitors, while the width could be provided by Law Tsz Chun and Matt Orr.
Hong Kong, China's Last 5 Matches
19/06/2023Hong Kong, China0Thailand1Friendlies
07/09/2023Cambodia1Hong Kong, China1Friendlies
11/09/2023Hong Kong, China10Brunei0Friendlies
12/10/2023Hong Kong, China4Bhutan0AFC World Cup Qualifiers
17/10/2023Bhutan2Hong Kong, China0AFC World Cup Qualifiers
IR Iran vs. Hong Kong, China: Odds and Predictions
Handicap Iran (-3.5): Yes
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