Saudi thumping offers little hope for Asian upturn in Russia

Despite a myriad of problems including cancelled warm-up friendlies and Nike’s decision to stop supplying boots due to US sanctions, Iran may provide the Asian confederation’s best chance of registering a win.

Carlos Queiroz’s men stormed through qualifying undefeated in 18 games, conceding just five goals in the process.

Queiroz’s defensive set-up frustrated Nigeria and Argentina four years ago and their opening game against Morocco on Friday offers an early chance to make an impression before tougher tasks against Spain and Portugal.

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