- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

With several European-based players in the squad, Iran will be heading to the World Cup with plenty of top level international experience.

Forward Reza Ghoochannejhad was born in the Netherlands and plays in England, while winger Ashkan Dejagah was raised in Germany and spent much of his career in the Bundesliga before moving to Premier League club Fulham. Goalkeeper Daniel Davari is another, born in Germany and playing in the Bundesliga.

Combined with Javad Nekounam, the team’s captain and one its most experienced players, Iran will need to come together as a team to have any chance of making it out of Group F.

Here are five players to watch:



Reza Ghoochannejhad is a relatively recent addition to the team - visa issues delayed the debut of the Dutch-born player - but the fleet-footed Charlton forward played an important role in Iran’s successful qualification campaign, scoring three goals in his first three qualifiers.

He has now scored nine goals in 11 games.

A January move from Standard Liege to Charlton in England’s second division has increased his playing time ahead of the World Cup and now the player dubbed “Gucci,” who has become one of Iran’s biggest stars, should arrive in Brazil fit and ready for action.



Long-serving Iran captain Javad Nekounam has been a mainstay of the national team since making his international debut in 2000.

The dynamic Al-Kuwait midfielder has a habit of coming up with a goal just when his team needs it most and has found the target 37 times in his 136 international appearances.

Now 33, Nekounam does not cover as much ground as he once did but he reads the game as well as any.

This year’s tournament is likely to be his last World Cup.

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