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A friendly fixture between the Iran men’s national football team, domestically known as Team Melli, and Syria, which was meant to serve as a build-up for the Iranian side prior to the start of its campaign at the 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, has been called off.

The Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in a statement released on Saturday, announced that the match, which had been scheduled for May 11, has been cancelled since a large number of Iranian footballers will not be available as their respective clubs will be competing at the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League at the time.

During the official 2018 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony at Kremlin State Palace in the Russian capital city of Moscow on December 1, Team Melli joined the Portugal national football team, nicknamed A Selecção, Spain’s La Furia Roja and Atlas Lions of Morocco in the preliminary round of the tournament.

The host nation, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay form Group A in the upcoming quadrennial international sports event.

France is drawn in Group C, and is pitted against Australia, Peru and Denmark.

Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria are drawn in Group D.

Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.

While the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea shape Group F, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England are in Group G.

Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from June 14 to July 15. Russia will open the event against Saudi Arabia in a Group A fixture at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.

Iran will start its World Cup campaign against Morocco at Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on June 15.

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