Team Melli defeated the African Side Togo 2-0 on Thursday in front a disappointing number of fans in Azadi Stadium
Both goals were scored by Karim Ansarifard in the second half within 10 minutes of each other. The first half ended goalless.
Carlos Queiroz gave several players their debut including Saman Ghoddos who was instrumental in the first goal, Ahmad Abdollahzadeh , Hossein Kanani-Zadegan, and substitute Akbar Emani. The new look team look solid in defense in the first half despite some gallant efforts from the Togolese team coached by the veteran French coach Claude Le Roy. The front line consisting of Kaveh Rezaei and Karim Ansarifard was disappointing however. Very little chances were created and the African side easily controlled their defense area with ease. Ansarifard in particular was guilty of wasting many easy balls and inability to dribble past his markers.
The second half started with 2 changed in the midfield for Team Melli.. A ferocious shot in the 51 minute by the Swedish born debutant, Saman Ghoddos was only partially parried by the Togolese keeper Sabirou, Ansarifard cleverly slotted the rebound into the net. The Olympiakos Piraeus, forward once again was on the score sheet after an easy slot in after some good work by Omid Ebrahimi on the right flank.
The match was a good start for Queiroz and his selection was successful with some sterling displays at the back lead by Rouzbeh Cheshmi who hardly put a foot wrong. Saman Ghoddos best contribution was his assist , but it is clear than he needs more work with the team. The match saw Hamed Lak in goal after many years of absence.
Russia will be a tougher test in 45 days, but the signs are there that Team Melli under Queiroz can be a tough opponent for any team.