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 By John Duerden

Asia's World Cup preparations: How are Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia set?

The FC crew debate the necessity of the March international break, weighing the positives for national team coaches ahead of the World Cup against the risks it poses for club teams.

All five Asian World Cup participants are busy in this international break. ESPN FC takes a look at where they all stand as Russia 2018 comes into view.

JAPAN

Opposition: Mali and Ukraine. After tests against Brazil and Belgium last year, Japan stay in Europe for what should be easier games.

The squad: Keisuke Honda returns for the first time since November while injuries rule out Shinji Kagawa and Premier League due Maya Yoshida and Shinji Okazaki. Yosuke Ideguchi -- the midfielder who scored the...

Iran ban on female fans at matches will end soon - FIFA's Gianni Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says Iran has assured him female fans will be allowed to attend stadiums "soon" after they were barred from a game he attended in Tehran.

Iran has barred women from attending men's football games since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Just like predecessor Sepp Blatter five years ago, Infantino returned from a trip to Tehran with a reassurance from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that women won't be shut out of stadiums for much longer.

But no timeframe was provided...

Cristiano Ronaldo still 'the best player in the world' - Iran's Carlos Queiroz

The FC crew praise Cristiano Ronaldo for his leadership, particularly with Karim Benzema, as Real Madrid's captain in their win over Alaves.
ESPN FC'S Gab Marcotti and Craig Burley each make cases for Spain and Portugal to win Group B.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz is looking forward to facing "the best player in the world" this summer when his team take on Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal at the World Cup in Russia.

The Asian country qualified for their fifth World Cup and were drawn with Portugal, the team Queiroz coached at the 2010 World Cup, as well as Spain and Morocco in Group B.

Iran will face Portugal in their final group game on June 25 and Queiroz, who is Portuguese, is excited.

"As a Portuguese coach, I think that playing...

Carlos Queiroz dares Iran to sack him as coach after World Cup demands

Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts evaluate Australia's World Cup group and assess whether they or any other Asian teams can progress.
The ESPN FC panel break down Group B where they feel Portugal and Spain are favourites over Morocco and Iran.
Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts discuss possible successors to Ange Postecoglou and preview the highly anticipated World Cup draw.

Carlos Queiroz has told football authorities in Iran to remove him from his role as the nation's head coach if they do not cede to his demands for more support for his team's Russia 2018 preparations.

The demand came after the Iranians were drawn in Group B for next June's World Cup finals when they will meet Portugal, Spain and Morocco.

Iran are one of a record five Asian nations to have made the World Cup, along with Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Queiroz has qualified Team Melli...

Carlos Queiroz eyes World Cup clash for Iran vs. Ronaldo's Portugal

The ESPN FC panel break down Group B where they feel Portugal and Spain are favourites over Morocco and Iran.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz will take on his home nation Portugal, 2010 champions Spain and Morocco as Asia's five qualifiers for next year's World Cup finals in Russia were handed a series of demanding draws.

Former Manchester United assistant boss Queiroz coached Portugal at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in his second stint in charge of the national team.

Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Australia also learned their fate in Moscow on Friday evening as the continent's record representation...