FFIRI has an incredible knack for rewarding failures. It is something that Mehdi Taj and his predecessor Ali Kaffashian has exceled in and the Iranian football community are getting used to. Both of these men, who have been leading the Iranian federation since 2008 , have a serious lack of picking winners while selecting staff to work for them be it on the playing fields as coaches or in the corridors of power as administrators. In Iran’s football federation, administrators and coaches do not last long, because they fail to succeed due to the pathetic selection process.
Amir Hossein Peyrovani is a classic example of FFIRI appalling policy of Mehdi Taj and his failure to pick and appoint the right person for the job. After taking Team Melli U20 to the FIFA U20 championship, the mediocre coach, who struggled to find a coaching job even at lower divisions clubs in Iran, failed miserably in dealing with the world’s top age group teams.
Iran’s U20 team was in fact one of the most promising and talented age group team of the last couple of decades. There was abundance of talents, however, tactical naivety, lack of pedigree in coaching and failure to read the game have all combined to knock Iran out of championship in the group stages. Iran U20 ended up as the bottom team of the group. The irony of this championship is that Iran U20 was scored first in all the matches and was 2 goals up against Zambia before losing 2-4.
Not convinced with the fact that FIFA U20 performance and result was a failure, Peyrovani was once again coaching but now at a higher level. Acute lack of appraisal and performance analysis system in the Iranian federation, living in denials and the relegating FFIRI’s technical committee (no thanks to Carlos Queiroz), has allowed Mehdi Taj to act and repeat the same error. In his questionable wisdom the head of the FFIRI chose Peyrovani to take the helm of the U23 team to the AFC qualifiers. Apart from a few sporadic mumbles, this appointment was surprisingly accepted by all stakeholders and the media. No one dared or bothered to question this appointment for such an important age group team, the de facto backbone of Team Melli!
Not surprising at all, that Peyrovani failed again at a much lower level of competition. Not in the FIFA U20 final but at a group qualifiers against the likes of Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan and Oman. Sri Lanka withdrew and so the group consisted of 3 teams only. Iran’s first match against the host ended in a very difficult narrow 2-1 win but the Omani’s managed to easily defeat Iran 2-0 to shatter the dream of yet another significantly talented Iranian team. A team victimized by the acute deficiency and incompetence of Iranian football management.
It is still an enigma why Iran cannot produce quality football administrators, managers and coaches as good as they produce players. Apart from one Iranian in Kambiz Atabay back in the mid 70’s , who headed the Asian Football Confederation , Iran has not managed to produce a competent administrator worthy of consideration for top administration jobs in AFC or FIFA. Tiny countries such as Bahrain, Sri Lanka , and Singapore had more officials in the AFC than mighty Iran.
Worst still , is the record of Iranian coaches in Asia. Even the best of Iran’s national coaches have failed to pass the group stages of AFC Champions league or at best the quarter finals of Asian Cup , in the post revolutions era.
The legendary Heshmat Mohajerani is the last of the Iranian great coaches. It seems that the wait is much longer for a quality coach to appear in Iran.
The other sad news is the remarkable decline of Iran U23 teams. From winners of the Asian Games coached by Branko Ivankovic , to struggling to make the finals stages.
Iran U23 Team coaches
- Iraj Soleimani(1980–82)
- Mahmoud Yavari(1982–84)
- Iraj Soleimani(1984–92)
- Hassan Habibi(1992–94)
- Enver Hadžiabdić (Bosnia) (1994)
- Jürgen Gede (Germany) (1994–95)
- Hassan Habibi(1995)
- Ibrahim Ghasempour(1997–99)
- Egon Coordes(Germany) (1999)
- Mehdi Monajati(1999–02)
- Branko Ivanković(Croatia) (2002–03)
- Mohammad Mayeli Kohan(2003–04)
- Hossein Faraki(2004)
- Rene Simões(Brazil) (2005–06)
- Vinko Begović(Croatia) (2006–07)
- Nenad Nikolić(Croatia) (2007–08)
- Gholam Hossein Peyrovani(2009–10)
- Houman Afazeli(2010–11)
- Alireza Mansourian(2011–14)
- Nelo Vingada (Portugal) (2014)
- Mohammad Khakpour(2014–16)
- Amir Hossein Peiravani (2017–)
Winners and losers