Iran announces squad without Belgium-based striker
Tehran: Iran announced its 24-man squad for the 2018 World Cup late Sunday, surprisingly omitting striker Kaveh Rezaei, but with plenty of expectation after an unbeaten run through qualifying.
The biggest shock was the decision not to take Rezaei, the 26-year-old coming off a blistering season for Belgium's Charleroi, scoring 16 goals in 39 games. But Iran has strong choices up front, including Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who became the first Iranian to top the scoring table of a major European league with 21 goals for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.
Also making the squad are Masoud Shojaei, 33, and Ehsan Haji Safi, 28, who were supposed to have been banned for life last summer after playing an Israeli team for their Greek club Panionios. Iran does not recognise
the Jewish state and bars its athletes from appearing against Israelis.
But there was uproar from fans and confusion reigned over the issue, with Shojaei returning to the national squad in March and Haji Safi never actually banned.