An action-packed schedule will see Iran’s volleyball national team take part in four major tournaments in the space of four months.
Head coach Behrouz Ataei this week named a list of 31 players who will have to report for a new training camp in Tehran on April 16.
Overseas players and those involved in May’s Asian Club Championship in Bahrain will join up with the rest of the squad after the conclusion of their club commitments.
The international season will begin for Iran with a visit to Japan, where Ataei’s men will kick off their Volleyball Nations League (VNL) campaign against the host in Nagoya on June 6 before taking on Poland, China, and Slovenia in Week 1 as the Asian powerhouse looks to build on the impressive run at the event last year which finished in a quarterfinal setback against the Poles.
The second week, beginning June 20 in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, will feature four games against Germany, Italy, USA, and the Netherlands and then Iran will head to Anaheim in the United States to face defending champion France, Bulgaria, and Argentina before capping off the preliminary round against Cuba on July 9.
Should Iran finish in the top half of the 16-team table, Ataei’s side will part of the VNL Finals, beginning July 19 in Gdansk, Poland.
Iran will fancy its chances to retain the crown on home soil, when hosting the Asian Men’s Volleyball Championship in Tehran from August 18-26.
Fixtures will come thick and fast for Iran as Ataei will take his team to Hangzhou, China, with a third successive gold at the Asian Games on their sight.
Finally, Iran will be among the 24 teams which will battle it out for six berths at the 2024 Paris Olympics across three qualification tournaments in Brazil, China, and Japan from Sept. 30-Oct. 8, with the top two in each event booking a place in the French capital.
There was a couple of surprises in Ataei’s list as veteran duo Mohammad Mousavi and Amir Ghafour both received a call-up and will be in line for a first international outing since the Tokyo Olympics two years ago.
This is the second time that Mousavi is called into action by Ataei though he withdrew from the team on the eve of the World Championship in August last year.
However, a one-year ban for young middle blocker Amirhossein Toukhteh due to a positive doping test convinced the head coach to pick the 35-year-old again.
Ghafour, meanwhile, was rewarded with a place in the squad after playing an integral part to Shahdab Yazd’s title-winning run at the Iranian Pro League earlier this month, though he will face tough competition from Amin Esmaeilnejad and Bardia Sa’adat for the opposite spiker role.