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The saga of Omid Team.

Iranian football , has experienced some very odd proceedings in the last few years the like of it you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Despite being arguably the most popular sport  in the country , the administration of football at Football federation and club levels have remarkably deficient and lacking professionalism and effectiveness. Discrepancies, inconsistencies and contradiction are so common and rife to a level that it is becoming an accepted norm!

Iran’s Football , is the biggest victim.

One of the hottest topics after Carlos Queiroz and Team Melli nowadays is the fate of Omid Team. The U-23 team which is also called the Olympics Team was considered as a top priority by Kaffashian and his administration. The federation declared that the target is qualification for the Rio Olympic games of 2016 and for that purpose , a large budget was allocated and an action plan was engaged.

Naturally, the FFIRI looked for the best coach they can find and afford. On the face of it , Kaffashian with the help of Queiroz found the perfect candidate in Nelo Vingada. The Portuguese had a wealth of experience in football including winning the FIFA Youth World Cup twice as assistant to Queiroz himself. Vingada has also worked in Iran beforehand , hence he had a good background on how things work.

Everything was going perfectly according to plan, including training camps inside and outside of the country that even exceeded the ones given to Team Melli.

And then disaster struck…

The team , in its first official mission , experienced one of worst results ever by an Iranian National team  when it was defeated by Vietnam and drew with Kyrgyzstan to be eliminated from the group levels of Asian Games 2014. The tragedy was intensified by the fact that a large number of highly quality Iranian players and stars of their own right, were members of this team.

Nobody could figure out what really went wrong, while the FFIRI in its usual style issued a quiet apology and without any investigation, any accountability and any identification of those who were at fault ,  carried on as if nothing has happened.  For Kaffashian, life goes on!. Unsurprisingly, FFIRI wanted to brush the issue under the carpet , however forces beyond FFIRI started asking questions and demanded to know how all those hard earned  millions has been wasted and who is accountable for it. Amongst the people who demanded answers were several members of the Parliament.

Kaffashian , finding himelf cornered , had to respond and act and. The end result of the Asian Games Mayhem was the eventual departure of Vingada and the practical disassembling of the whole U 23 team.

Fighting against time, FFIRI was urgently seeking a replacement for Vingada. Looking for a coach who can take Iran to the Olympics for the first time in 40 years. With the expectations so high and urgency creating a stressful atmosphere, a tremor hits the core of Iran’s football ,  when Kaffashian announced the name of the new coach.

Mohammad Khakpour , an uninspiring , inexperienced and unfamiliar coach was picked to lead Iran for this task. Khakpour , a former Team Melli player, but never a household name nor and exceptional player. Spend most of his time in USA after retiring. He obtained   his coaching liscence in the States where he worked as coaching kids. Khakpour’s CV , does not have a single high profile club or national team. The only club he managed briefly was Steel Azin and then an assistant to Mayeli-Kohan , again briefly , in Foolad Khuzestan.

 Vingada-U23-team

Between the selection of Nelo Vingada , whose resume says he started his coaching in 1981 and has 33 years’ worth of experience in coaching achieving several championships in different countries, and a lackluster rookie coach , with a few months experienced in a doomed club , there is a fundamental discrepancy bordering a comic act.  There were several immediate calls for him to be sacked as the job is way beyond his capability, but Khakpour himself was adamant that he iscapable  experienced enough to do the job!

Now, after a few months in the job and following the appointment of Mohammad Mayeli Kohan who walked out of Evin prison to be chosen as the Manager of Omid Team, Khakpour has become brash. After more training camps and playing of several friendly matches , the beleaguered Khakpour has the audacity to tell the media that their expectation for qualification to the Olympics is way too optimistic and unjustified !!.

“After 40 years of not being able to make it to the Olympics, do you think that I can do it in 4 months in the job?” Khakpour told the media recently.

A quote that sums up the quality of the man and reflects quite badly on Iranian coaches in general.  No wonder why the fans have lost much trust in Iranian coaches.

Thus , another bizarre event  of Iranian football is brewing.

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