The “Persian Leopards” became the first Asian country to qualify for the World Cup finals with a 1-0 win in their capital Tehran.
Iran secures a place at the 2022 Fifa World Cup after qualifying by beating their counterparts Iraq on January 27.
Three minutes into the second half, a goal by striker Mehdi Taremi secured the Iran national football team’s plane ticket to take part in the world’s greatest sporting event, to be played in Qatar next November.
The goal sends the country to the World Cup for the sixth time since 1978 and for the third time in a row.
Iran cemented a top spot in Group A with 19 points from seven games, two points ahead of South Korea, who are close to qualifying for the finals after beating Lebanon 1-0 in Sidon, the team reported be at sports
Qualifier Iran is the 14th team to secure a place in the final between Qatar, Germany, Denmark, Brazil, France, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland, Netherlands and Argentina.
“Even though there were special circumstances before the game, I’m glad we managed to make people happy by making it to the World Cup,” said Taremi told State TV after the game.
The special circumstances he was referring to included the admission of female fans into stadiums, erratic ticket sales and the recent Covid-19 outbreak.
Members of the national team have been affected by the rampant spread of the virus, namely goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. Other team members like Ehsan Hajsafi, Majid Hosseini, Mehdi Ghaedi and Ahmad Nourollahi also missed the game against Iraq due to positive tests. Messages reported.
Among the cheering spectators after the referee’s final whistle were some Iranian women, who were allowed into the football stadium for the first time in three years.
Despite the rapid momentum of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, 10,000 fans attended at Azadi Stadium, including 2,000 women.
“I’m very happy. This is the first time I’ve attended a game at Azadi Stadium,” said a 26-year-old civil engineer named Mahya.
In September 2019, FIFA asked Iran to allow women access to stadiums across the country without strict restrictions and in a number dependent on ticket demand.
A month later, for the first time since the Iranian revolution in 1979, women were able to watch one of their country’s first qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup against Cambodia at the Azadi Stadium.
The verdict came after a fan nicknamed “Blue Girl” set himself on fire for fear of being jailed for disguising himself as a boy to attend a game.
Since then, Covid-19 restrictions again denied women access to the stadiums until January 2022.
US Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley congratulates “Team Melli” (Iran national soccer team) on their victory on Thursday.
— Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley (@USEnvoyIran) January 28, 2022
On Tuesday, February 1, Iran will host a match against the United Arab Emirates at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.
Iran’s National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control has announced that the game will be held behind closed doors to curb the further spread of Covid-19.