Iran includes five senior players for WAFF Championship

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AFC - Branko Ivankovic, the head coach of the Iranian National Team, has named five senior players in his squad for the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship in Damascus, Syria from August 30 to September 7.

While Iran are the defending WAFF champions, Ivankovic is eyeing the tournament as a warm-up for the Asian Games in Busan. Teams competing in the Asian Games are permitted to field three over-age players in their Under-23 squads and the Croatian is hoping to try out Ebrahim Mirzapour, Ali Karimi, Reza Enayati, Rahman Rezaei and Sohrab Bakhtiyarizadeh alongside his younger charges.

Ivankovic explained his decision to field the Asian Games squad instead of the full national side.

"We have been unable to summon all of our foreign-based players for this tournament as it not on FIFA’s international match schedule and foreign clubs are under no obligation to release their players for the tournament," said Ivankovic.

"The West Asian games are the best opportunity to evaluate the national youth team and I will know who to take to the Busan games with me after this tournament. That is why I intend to announce the names of the three senior players accompanying the national team to Pusan after we return from Damascus. It is very difficult for me to make the choice of whom to take.

"I feel that there is enough time to make the choices and the games in Damascus are a suitable place to find the weak points,” he added.