Iran’s Amir Abedzadeh and USA’s Giovanni Reyna face each other 24 years after their fathers Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh and Claudio Reyna played in the same fixture in France 1998.
When the draw for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was made nearly eight months ago, Iran vs USA was one of the standout fixtures of the group stage, brining back a feeling of déjà vu for when the two sides faced-off in a politically charged encounter in Lyon’s Stade de Gerland which saw the Iranians emerge 2-1 winners.
Leading the line for Team Melli back then was goalkeeper Ahmad Reza Abdedzadeh, while starring for the United States was their talismanic midfielder Claudio Reyna.
Both players will be paying close attention to the selections of head coaches Carlos Queiroz of Iran and Gregg Berhalter as a unique bit of family history could possibly unfold at Al Thumama Stadium. The two proud dads could see their kids line-up against one another just as they did in France 24 years earlier.
The kids, Giovanni Reyna and Amir Abedzadeh would have no recollection of that historic evening in Lyon. The US attacker was only born four years later in England when his father represented Sunderland, while the Iranian goalkeeper had just turned five, having been born in Tehran where his father plied his trade at local powerhouse Esteghlal.
One of the youngest players in the current US squad, 20-year-old Reyna made his FIFA World Cup debut off the bench in the goalless draw against England, coming on for the final seven minutes.
Nine years Reyna’s senior, Abedzadeh was the starting goalkeeper for Team Melli throughout the qualifiers campaign under Dragan Skokic, but lost his number one spot to Alireza Beiranvand upon the return of Carlos Queiroz in September.
An injury to Beiranvand in the opening FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B encounter against England saw Queiroz opt to bring on Hossein Hosseini after 20 minutes, but with six goals conceded by the Esteghlal goalkeeper in 70 minutes of action, Queiroz could well be tempted to give Abedzadeh the nod in an emotional clash for the man playing in Portugal’s Ponferradina.
Earlier in the tournament, Group D’s encounter between France and Denmark saw the latter’s goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel represent his country against the side that featured Marcus Thuram 24 years after Peter Schmeichel had lined-up for Denmark against France, incidentally also at Stade Gerland, the host venue for Iran v USA. However, Marcus’ father, Lilian Thuram had missed out on that game in 1998, meaning the fathers-son face-off could only happen once in Qatar 2022.