The beginning of Team Melli Training was marred by the conspicuous absence of all Iranian personnel. No Iranian coaches or administrators was sighted in the first training session of Team Melli in Azadi Training camp ahead of the series of matches in the next few days.
Team Melli will be meeting Iraq in a friendly international on Friday before flying to Doha for the Thursday match against Qatar in the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers and then flying back to Tehran to meet China in Azadi.
The absence of Afshin Peyrovani , the Team Manager, Markar Aghajanian , Javad Nekounam (assistant coaches) , Arin Ghassemi (interpreter) and Mohsen Motamedkia (Team PR specialist) raised much questions and enforced the rumors that the national contingent of Team Melli Cadre have boycotted Queiroz.!
The Portuguese coach has been resisting the inclusion of Iranians assistants in the Training cadre especially those who are hand-picked by others for the job rather himself. Two of his more famous assistants (victims) who left the job are Omid Namazi and Ali Karimi. The latter tenure with Queiroz did not last more than a few days.
Markar Aghajanian is the longest-serving cadre of Team Melli . A man who does his work very quietly and away from the spotlights. He hardly features in the media and prefers to work quietly and focus on his task. Aghajanian is the only Team Melli coach that consistently follows the Domestic Persian Gulf League while Carlos Quieroz hardly attends any league matches. Many of the new names in Team Melli squad are picked as result of Aghajanian’s recommendation and diligence.
Javad Nekounam, the ex-Captain and the record holder of Team Melli matches, who started his coaching career on the wrong note being slapped with FIFA suspension, is another surprise absentee. Queiroz’s own choice for assistant coach when the then President Ali Kaffashian insisted that the training staff must include an Iranian assistant coach, was picked without any coaching experience or formal training hence Nekounam was always exposed to failure. However, Nekounam was a strong supporter of Queiroz as a player and Captain of the team.
Afshin Peyrovani, who has no technical or coaching authority in the squad, and is only the administration manager is another strong Queiroz supporter. Peyrovani has been outspoken in the defense of Portuguese coach against wide-spread media criticism. Unlike Aghajanina, Peyrovani was always making a statement to one news agency to another in the project of defending Queiroz. His absence is more puzzling than all the rest as he was always the Yes man and the loyal soldier to Carlos Queiroz!
The controversy and drama of Carlos Queiroz with Team Melli continues to run unabated. Whether the absence of the Iranian contingent of Team Melli is a coincident, or an expression of protest or even a boycott , it will hardly matter to Queiroz who prefers an iron fist approach to his job and has no time for any views other than his. It is unlikely that the Iranians absent will have a negative short term effect or direct impact in the result of the coming matches.