While the likes of Nigeria, Germany, Argentina, Portugal and England are still battling an uphill task in the race to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, lowly rated Iran have become only the second team to qualify for the quadrennial tournament.
The Iranians achieved the enviable feat after pummeling Uzbekistan 2-0 in Tehran.
Goals from Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi ensured Iran, coached by Carlos Queiroz, will appear at successive World Cups for the first time.
Victory meant they opened an eight-point advantage over their opponents, who are third in the table.
It would be recalled that five-time winners, Brazil, were the first team to join hosts – Russia – at the global soccer fiesta.
The top two teams in each of Asia’s two qualifying groups progress to the World Cup, while the teams in third place go into a series of play-offs.
Iran were one of the group opponents of the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
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