Iran omit Masoud Shojaei from World Cup squad after game vs. Israeli side
Sweden-born midfielder Saman Ghoddos has been called up for the first time by Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, but there is no place in the squad for veteran Masoud Shojaei.
Shojaei fell foul of Iranian authorities earlier this month when he played for his club side Panionios in the Europa League against Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Iranian sportsmen are not permitted to compete against Israelis, with Iran not recognising Israel's right to exist. Reports previously suggested both Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, who also played in the game, would be banned from the national team.
Hajsafi, however, has been included in the squad to face South Korea and Syria for an Iranian side who have already qualified for next year's World Cup finals.
Ghoddos, who was born in Stockholm but qualifies for Iran through his parents, is the only uncapped player to be included as Queiroz begins his preparations for next year's finals.
The 23-year-old has appeared in two friendly matches for Sweden, scoring against Slovakia in a friendly in January, but was granted Iranian citizenship earlier this month.
"We have a 37 Elite Player Group that is our preparation basis for the World Cup and this call-up list, bringing some younger players, reflects our strategy of working on all this Elite Group," wrote Queiroz on his official Facebook page to announce the squad.
"This doesn't mean we are in condition to [leave] behind experienced players that we are used to have with us, like Pejman [Montazeri], Masoud [Shojaei], [Andranik] Teymourian or [Khosro] Heydary, who continue in this 37 Elite Player Group as important options for Team Melli."
Alireza Haghighi (Eskilstuna, Sweden), Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Hamed Lak (Foulad), Seyed Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Sadd, Qatar), Ramin Rezaeian (Oostende, Belgium), Vouria Ghafoori (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny, Russia), Mohammad Ansari (Persepolis), Saeid Aghaei (Sepahan), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Panionios, Greece), Ashkan Dejagah (Unattached), Alireza Jahanbaksh (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saeid Ezatolahi (Rostov, Russia), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ali Karimi (Unattached), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersund, Sweden), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos, Greece), Reza Ghoochannejad (Heerenveen, Netherlands), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Mehdi Taremi (Persepolis).
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch