Iran men’s national soccer team, Iran ascends five places in latest FIFA rankings
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The Iran men’s national soccer team, domestically known as Team Melli, has climbed five positions in the April 2017 edition of the FIFA rankings to land in the 28th spot in the world. According to the latest monthly rankings released by the world’s soccer governing body on Thursday, the Iranian team collected 820 points and maintained its position as the best Asian soccer team. Other Asian teams included South Korea, which plunged three positions to the 43rd slot in the latest FIFA rankings with 700 points, followed by the Japanese and Australians, who occupied the 44th and 50th spots respectively with 685 and 661 points. Brazil is the top-ranked soccer team in the world, with 1,661 points. Belgium bagged 1,603 points to claim the second position while third-place Germany earned 1,464 points. Chile stands fourth with 1,403 points. On March 28, the Iranian squad celebrated a 1-0 win over China’s Team Dragon at the end of a Group A fixture in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. Mehdi Taremi, who plays as a forward for Persian Gulf Pro League club Persepolis, scored the only goal of the game just seconds after the start of the second half, when his low shot from eight yards out slipped under the Chinese goalkeeper Zeng Cheng. The result came five days after the Iranian outfit had notched up a 1-0 win over Qatar national football team, nicknamed Maroons, in a Group A fixture at the multi-purpose Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in the Qatari capital city of Doha. Team Melli is scheduled to face the Uzbek national football team at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on June 12. Iran is pitted against South Korea, Uzbekistan, China, Qatar and Syria in Group A of the third round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification tournament. Asian powerhouse Japan is drawn in Group B, and has joined Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Thailand. The winner and runner-up of each group (four teams in total) will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while the third-placed teams of each group (two teams in total) will head to the play-off round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The winner of the Asian play-off round will then face twice the fourth-placed squad in the fifth round of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) qualifying games.