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Iran name Sardar Azmoun in World Cup squad

Iran named Sardar Azmoun, their star player who has expressed support on several occasions for the demonstrations in Iran, in their final 25-man World Cup squad on Monday.

Azmoun, who plays for German club Bayer Leverkusen, tore a calf muscle in early October and faces a fight to be fit for Iran’s first match of the tournament against England in Qatar on November 21.

The 27-year-old forward has posted several messages of support on social media for the protests in Iran that were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Hundreds have died in the unrest.

Azmoun’s Instagram account, which has five million followers, was at one point blocked for several days before coming back online.

Activists have called on fans attending Iran’s matches at the World Cup to chant Amini’s name.

Iran also face Wales on November 25 and the United States on November 29 in the group phase of the World Cup.

Goalkeepers: Amir Abedzadeh (Ponferradina/ESP), Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal), Payam Niazmand (Sepahan).

Defenders: Sadegh Moharrami (Dinamo Zagreb/CRO), Ehsan Hajsafi (AEK Athens/GRE), Shoja Khalilzadeh (Al Ahli/QAT), Milad Mohammadi (AEK Athens/GRE), Morteza Pouraliganji (Persepolis), Hossein Kanaani (Al Ahli/QAT), Majid Hosseini (Kayserispor/TUR), Ramin Rezaian (Sepahan), Abolfazl Jalali (Esteghlal).

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Vejle BK/DEN), Saman Ghoddos (Brentford/ENG), Ahmad Nourollahi (Shabab Al-Ahli/UAE), Roozbeh Chechmi (Esteghlal), Ali Karimi (Kayserispor/TUR).

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord/NED), Mehdi Taremi (Porto/POR), Karim Ansarifard (Omonia Nicosia/CYP), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Mehdi Torabi (Persepolis), Ali Gholizadeh (Charleroi/BEL), Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen/GER).

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