Madrid 2018: 6 things to know about Iran

Rio 2016 silver medallists seek further success at World Championships 18 May 2018
a group of blind football players in action on the pitch

Iran are the Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallists

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Iran will start as one of the favourites for the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Championships title in Madrid, Spain, after taking silver at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Here are some facts about the world No.5 team ahead of the biggest blind football competition of the year.

• Iran subsequently qualified for Rio 2016, where they sprung a surprise in the semi-finals by beating Argentina 2-1 on penalties. However they lost to Brazil 1-0 in the gold medal match.

• They went on another undefeated streak at the 2017 Asians in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. That was until they met China again in the final, who took their revenge for the 2015 final. The runners-up spot was still enough for Iran to qualify for the World Championships for the first time in their history.

• Iran made their international debut at the 2007 Asian Championships in Seoul, South Korea. They secured bronze thanks to a 1-0 victory over Japan.

• Iran then claimed silver at the 2011 Asians in Sendai, Japan. Three years later, they won the 2014 ASEAN Para Games for the first time, remaining undefeated throughout the competition.

• At the 2015 Asian Championships in Tokyo, Japan, Iran continued their unbeaten streak. After defeating China 1-0 on penalties in the final, they lifted their first continental trophy.

• Team captain Behzad Zadaliasghari, who led his country to history by becoming the first Asian country to stand on the Paralympic Games podium in the sport, will be a key player. His Messi-like goal against Morocco in Rio made headlines around the world.

Iran will play against Argentina, France and Colombia in Group B.

The 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships will feature 16 of the world’s best teams. As well as the title on offer the competition is also an important step on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

After the Opening Ceremony and match on 7 June, the group stages get underway in earnest on 8 June. The quarter finals and play-offs begin on 13 June with the final taking place on 17 June.