With FIFA World Cup tests against England, United States on the horizon, what can returning Carlos Queiroz bring to Iran?

Having been at the helm of Iran at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups, Carlos Queiroz has now returned to lead Team Melli at Qatar 2022. CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via Getty Images

After three and a half years away, and following days of constant speculation, Carlos Queiroz's return as Iran coach was confirmed on Wednesday.

The Portuguese -- who remains Team Melli's longest-serving tactician from his previous spell from 2011-19 -- is back after stints with Colombia and Egypt, and arrives with just three months to prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Under Queiroz, Iran memorably gave an excellent account of themselves at the last World Cup, where they beat Morocco, drew with Portugal and lost narrowly to Spain to miss out on the Round of 16 by just a point despite the odds firmly stacked against them.

- The one deficiency Asia's World Cup hopefuls must address
- Japan ace Doan still has plenty he wants to achieve in his career
- The Asian stars to watch out for in the 2022-23 European season

It will not be easy again at Qatar 2022 with the Iranians to face England, United States and Wales, so what can we expect from Iran with Queiroz at the helm?

We look ahead to his second coming by answering these five questions.

What did he achieve with Iran previously?

The fact that no other coach has had a longer stint in charge of Team Melli -- seven years and nine months -- illustrates how satisfied the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran, who are no strangers to abrupt dismissals, were with his first tenure.

He secured consecutive World Cup qualifications in 2014 and 2018, which is the usual expectation given the Iranians are one of Asia's traditional powerhouses -- although they did miss out the year before Queiroz took charge.

In particular, Iran's displays under Queiroz at Russia 2018 stand out as they collected four points to finish third in Group B but just a solitary point behind top two Spain and Portugal.

The situation could have been far different had Saeid Ezatolahi not had a goal disallowed in a 1-0 loss to Spain, while a 1-1 draw with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal could easily have been a win if not for a glaring last-gasp miss by Mehdi Taremi.

On the continental stage, Iran reached the quarterfinals and semifinals of the AFC Asian Cup in 2015 and 2019 respectively under Queiroz, which arguably fell below expectations.

Why did he leave Team Melli the first time around?

It was after that semifinal exit at the 2019 Asian Cup that saw the end of Queiroz's first spell in charge of Team Melli.

While losing to fellow heavyweights Japan would not usually be considered a massive disappointment in terms of the result, it was the manner in which they were completely outplayed in a 3-0 loss that was perhaps the bigger gripe with the FFIRI.

Queiroz's contract had yet to be renewed for after the Asian Cup but he made the decision to step down following the loss to Japan, which was his 100th game in charge of Team Melli.

"It was an honour to be side by side with these great men, in this eight-year journey, facing all the adversities, always and always with great character," the Portuguese said then.

He departed with a 60% win percentage and a positive goal difference of 121 from his century of matches.

Has he done well since?

Based on his subsequent endeavours, it is safe to say that his time with Team Melli has been Queiroz's most successful in international football.

Right after Iran, he took charge of Colombia in February 2019 and his first taste was that year's Copa America, where his new charges fell in the quarterfinals after a penalty shootout loss to Chile.

The main target however was always to qualify for a third consecutive World Cup but, after a promising start, the return to action following the prolonged coronavirus-enforced break saw Colombia's fortunes change drastically.

A 3-0 loss to Uruguay -- their heaviest at home in 82 years -- followed by an even-more shocking 6-1 thrashing by Ecuador saw Queiroz face the axe after only 18 games in charge.

Then, last September, the 69-year-old was handed the reins of Egypt -- a team with equally lofty ambitions given the presence of a certain Mohamed Salah leading the team.

Nonetheless, after a heartbreaking loss to Senegal in the final of the postponed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations was followed by another defeat to the same opposition back in April -- this time costing the Egyptians qualification for the World Cup -- Queiroz would depart just seven months from his appointment.

How did his return come about?

Even after his departure from Team Melli, Queiroz has always been held in high regard by the Iranian football fraternity.

While his original replacement Marc Wilmots lasted just seven months, the Belgian's successor Dragan Skocic got their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.

They would ultimately finish the third and final round of Asian qualifiers with 25 points from a possible 30 to comfortably finish inside the top two in Group A and book their ticket to Qatar 2022.

All was well with Team Melli... right?

Unfortunately, Skocic's tenure was blighted by constant reports of dressing room unrest, with the most notable incident being the omission of Porto striker Taremi from two qualifiers back in November.

FFIRI officials were required to mediate between Skocic and Taremi to ensure Taremi's return to the national team fold given his undeniable importance to their World Cup hopes, but many other seasoned campaigners were conspicuously absent from the Croat's plans.

The growing unrest -- along with the newfound availability of Queiroz -- led to calls for a return of an old hero, which was put into motion following the appointment of Mehdi Taj as president of FFIRI on Aug. 30 and confirmed just over a week later.

Will he make Iran stronger at this World Cup?

Fans hoping to see Iran produce free-flowing football at the World Cup under Queiroz are likely to be disappointed but, then again, that would have hardly been the wisest of game plans.

Instead, they will have someone who has made a career out of setting his teams out to be organised and resolute, while also capable of making the most of their forays forward -- a game plan which, after all, worked wonders at Russia 2018.

They will be clear underdogs in their opening tie against England but, while the general narrative seems to suggest they are the weakest side in Group B, those who have observed Team Melli closely since the last World Cup will know they are far from pushovers -- especially coming up against Wales and United States.

With Taremi and strike partner Sardar Azmoun -- the Russian Premier League's top scorer in 2019-20 now plying his trade for Bundesliga giants Bayer Leverkusen -- leading the way, Iran boast plenty of players with European experience.

Others include former Brighton and current Feyenoord winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh, ex-Antwerp goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand -- who famously denied Ronaldo from the penalty spot at the last World Cup -- and rising star Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, now finding his feet with English second-tier outfit Hull.

Four years on from their impressive showing at the last World Cup, there is a feeling that his golden generation of Iranian talent are fast approaching their prime -- and that Qatar 2022 might be their best chance to secure a maiden knockout round appearance.

And while Queiroz might not be the long-term answer for the future of Team Melli, with just three months to go to the World Cup, an experienced tactician who not only knows the players inside out but is also well respected by them is exactly the tonic they need.

England, Wales and United States should underestimate the Iranians at their own peril.