- Ali Daei – Goals: 109
- Karim Bagheri – Goals: 50
- Sardar Azmoun – Goals: 40
- Javad Nekounam – Goals: 39
- Ali Karimi – Goals: 38
Iran National Football Team History
Iran’s Football Federation was created in 1920, but the Iran soccer team didn’t play its first game until 1941. The match finished in a 1-0 win over British India but Team Melli’s first FIFA-sanctioned game was a scoreless draw against Afghanistan.
From 1968-1976, Iran won three consecutive AFC Asian Cups, their only three major trophies to date. Iran hosted the event in 1968 with 4-0 and Homayoun Behzadi was joint-top scorer. Hossein Kalani scored the winning goal against South Korea 4 years later in the final, as top scorer.
Iran once again hosted the event in 1976 and once again won all of their games to clinch a third straight trophy. Team Melli improved to a perfect 13-0 in Asian Cup matches, and attacking midfielder Ali Parvin was named the tournament’s best player.
With an undefeated record in 1978 World Cup Qualifying, the first Iran World Cup appearance came at Argentina ‘78. Team Melli drew with Scotland 1-1 but lost to both Peru and the Netherlands and finished at the bottom of Group 4.
The 1979 Iranian Revolution had a big impact on the national team. The Iran national football team didn’t take part in World Cup qualifiers during the Iraq-Iran war from 1980-88 and had no domestic league until 1989 due to the conflict.
After a third place finish at the 1996 AFC Asian Cup, things were looking up for Team Melli, since they qualified for their first World Cup in 20 years in 1998. They squeaked by Australia in a World Cup Qualifying playoff to clinch a berth at France ‘98. Later, the Iran national football team lost 1-0 to Yugoslavia on a free kick in their World Cup ‘98 opener.
Their second match was their first match won at a World Cup, defeating the USA 2-1. Hamid Estili’s opening goal was particularly memorable for his passionate celebration: he scored a powerful looping header over US keeper Kasey Keller. Iran lost to Germany 2-0 in the group finale and finished third in Group F.
Six years later, striker Ali Daei broke the all-time international goals record by scoring his 90th goal against Lebanon. Iran finished third in the AFC Asian Cup the same year and became one of the first teams to qualify for the 2006 World Cup. In the process, Daei became the first player to score 100 international goals.
At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Team Melli lost two matches and drew one. That meant they went out at the Group Stage once again. Iran missed out on the 2010 World Cup but Carlos Queiroz’s 2011 appointment proved to be a good one.
The Portuguese manager led Iran to back-to-back World Cups and masterminded Iran’s first clean sheet in a World Cup against Nigeria in 2014. Iran were also minutes away from drawing with Argentina at the same tournament, but a Lionel Messi goal gave La Albiceleste the win.
Iran’s best performance in a World Cup came in 2018, as they amassed four points with a win over Morocco and a draw against Portugal. They narrowly missed out on their first knockout stage berth due to a 1-0 loss against Spain.
Iran national football team picked up the most points of any team in the third round of 2022 AFC World Cup Qualifying under coach Dragan Skocic. That meant Team Melli sealed qualification to a third consecutive FIFA World Cup for the first time in team history.
Check out the latest FIFA World Cup news and betting analysis.
Iran soccer betting wasn’t too popular heading into the 2022 World Cup. They were +300 underdogs to advance out of Group B and massive +50000 underdogs to win the World Cup.
Team Melli fell 6-2 to England in their opening match, which marked a disappointing start. However, they scored two stoppage-time goals to defeat Wales in their next match and keep their knockout stage hopes alive.
Needing just a draw vs. the USA to advance, Iran fell 1-0 and went out in the group stage. They’ve never qualified for the knockout stage in six World Cup appearances.
Iran Soccer Leagues & Clubs:
The most suitable league for Iran soccer betting is the Persian Gulf Pro League. The league was founded in 2001 as the top-level Iranian football league. There are currently 16 teams in the league, which follows a double round-robin format. The bottom two teams in the league go down to the second division each season. In 2021-22, undefeated Esteghlal broke Persepolis’ five-year title streak.
|Gol Gohar Sirjan
|Naft Masjed Soleyman
The second division Iranian soccer league is called the Azadegan League. Before the Persian Gulf Pro League was created, the Azadegan League was the top flight. This 18-team league also follows a double round-robin format. Each season, the top two teams go up to the Persian Gulf Pro League. Meanwhile, the bottom three teams are relegated to the Iranian Second Division.
|Arman Gohar Sirjan
|Fajr Sepasi Shiraz
|Khooshe Talaei Saveh
|Mes Shahr-e Babak
|Pars Jonoubi Jam
|Khalij Fars Mahshahr
|Shams Azar Qazvin
|Van Pars Nasghshe Jahan
Iran Cups & Tournaments
Iran’s soccer teams take part in the Iranian Hazfi Cup. All 62 professional Iranian teams compete in the competition, along with 34 provincial champions. The tournament follows a single-elimination format and the winner earns a place in the Iranian Super Cup.
Iran Soccer Betting Information
The Persian Gulf Pro League is an option for foreign bettors to break into Iranian soccer betting. The league follows a simple structure, with each team playing every other team in a home-and-away format. There are no playoffs in the Persian Gulf Pro League and the Iranian Hazfi Cup is a separate knockout tournament. No team other than Esteghlal and Persepolis have won the Persian Gulf Pro League title since Sepahan in 2014-15.
Iran’s top domestic league is quite low scoring. Only 1.81 goals per game were scored in 2021-22. It is also one of the most draw-heavy leagues in the world. A full 37 percent of matches finished in draws in the 2021-22 season. Meanwhile, home teams won 34 percent of the time and road teams won 29 percent of their matches. Nearly 20 percent of matches finished scoreless, so it’s certainly not the most attacking league.
Totals and scoreline bettors may find the league to be a good option, though. In 2021-22, 71 percent of matches finished with two or fewer goals. Both teams scored just 36 percent of the time and clean sheets occurred in a whopping 83 percent of matches.
World Cup betting tips have typically recommended avoiding betting on Iran to advance to the knockout stage. Team Melli are currently 0 for 6 in making the last 16 of the World Cup. They’ve managed at least a draw in each of their appearances but never won more than one game. Heading into the 2022 World Cup, Iran dominated AFC qualifying. In the third round they finished 8-1-1 and on top of Group A to automatically qualify for a third-straight World Cup.
Iran have also advanced out of the group stage of the AFC Asian Cup in their last seven appearances. Team Melli made the semifinals in 2019 and could certainly be contenders in the 2023 edition.
They’re an experienced side, as 11 players have made over 40 caps for the national team. Their attack is where they shine the most, as Mehdi Taremi, Sardar Azmoun and Karim Ansarifard are all excellent options. Taremi, Azmoun and Ansarifard combined for 24 goals alone in the 2022 World Cup Qualifying. Taremi and Azmoun should still be around for the 2026 World Cup.
While sports betting is illegal in Iran, foreign bettors may be able to bet on Iranian soccer. The most important competition is the Persian Gulf Pro League. Bettors may also want to check out the second-tier Azadegan League, the Iranian Hazfi Cup and the Iranian Super Cup.
The Iran national team, nicknamed Team Melli, have the potential to make noise at upcoming tournaments. As an experienced team, don’t be surprised if they make a run in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. Team Melli will also be a popular pick to advance out of AFC World Cup Qualifying and advance to a fourth-straight World Cup.