Twenty-eight candidates will be called into Carlos Quieroz’s camp as part of Iran’s preliminary roster for World Cup 2014, only 10 of whom ply their trade outside of the nation they’re hoping to represent.
One of those is Vancouver Whitecaps defender Steven Beitashour, who is one of only two defenders playing outside of Iran. Born in California, both of Beitashour’s parents are Iranian. He’s received four caps for Iran, all since being called-up by the US but going unused by Jurgen Klinsmann in an August 2012 friendly.
There’s a solid L.A. Times story on Beitashour’s desire to play for Iran, courtesy of Kevin Baxter:
“I just thought about soccer,” Beitashour says. “It’s a great opportunity, especially to play on the international stage.”
And secondly, he is not a mercenary. If U.S. Soccer had pursued him with the same as fervor as Iran’s national team, he would have been just as happy to stay home. But he was never asked to make that choice.
“If everything were equal, if both teams come at you at the exact same time?” Beitashour, who was born in San Jose to Iranian parents, asks rhetorically. “That would never happen.”
Aside from Beitashour, Iran’s lineup packs some punch with dangerous Fulham attacker Ashkan Dejagah leading the charge. Their greatest depth may be in goal.
Goalkeepers (4): Daniel Davari (Eintracht Braunschweig), Alireza Haghighi (Sporting Covilha), Rahman Ahmadi (Sepahan Esfahan), Sousha Makani (Foolad Khuzesta)
Khosro Heydari (Esteghlal Tehran), Hossein Mahini (Persepolis Tehran), Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps), Pejman Montazeri (Umm Salal), Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis Tehran), Amir-Hossein Sadeghi (Esteghlal Tehran), Mohammad-Reza Khanzadeh (Zob Ahan Esfahan), Ahmad Alenemeh (Naft Tehran), Hashem Beikzadeh (Esteghlal Tehran), Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan Esfahan), Mehrdad Pouladi (Persepolis Tehran)
Javad Nekounam (Kuwait SC), Andranik Teymourian (Esteghlal Tehran), Reza Haghighi (Persepolis Tehran)
Ghasem Hadadifar (Zob Ahan Esfahan), Bakhtiar Rahmani (Foolad Khuzestan)
Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham FC), Masoud Shojaei (UD Las Palmas), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (NEC Nijmegen), Mohammad-Reza Khalatbari (Persepolis Tehran), Mehdi Sharifi (Sepahan Esfahan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Charlton Atheltic), Karim Ansarifard (Tractor Sazi Tabriz), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan)