Soccer: Ireland play Iran in World Cup qualifier

The country is expected to come to a halt when Ireland take on Iran in the World Cup play-off at Lansdowne Road today.

The country is expected to come to a halt when Ireland take on Iran in the World Cup play-off at Lansdowne Road today.

The winner of the two-leg tie will take part in next summer’s World Cup tournament in South Korea and Japan.

Confidence is high in Mick McCarthy’s team after an unbeaten run in the qualifying groups, including a win against Holland, and there is great expectation from the Irish people surrounding the game.

After several missed opportunities in previous play-offs against Holland, Belgium and Turkey, the Irish team will be looking to book their place in the greatest football tournament in the world next year.

A good win in front of a packed Lansdowne Road would make next Thursday’s game in Teheran a little easier.

However, the Iranians will not be taken lightly by the Irish. They, like Ireland, have appeared in two World Cup finals and boast world class players who ply their trade in some of the best leagues in the world.

Hertha Berlin striker, Ali Daei, will be their main threat in the forward line. The former Bayern Munich player has plenty of experience, having already played in a World Cup tournament - in France in 1998 - and he was part of the team who scored a famous win over the United States in that tournament.

The Irish welcome back their captain, Roy Keane, for this tie after he declared himself fit for the game despite suffering from a knee injury that may require surgery.

The Irish team that is to start the game is: Given, Finnan, Breen, Staunton, Harte, McAteer, Roy Keane, Holland, Kilbane, Niall Quinn and Robbie Keane.

The match kicks-off at 6pm this evening.

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