Iran Olympic team defeated Uzbekistan
6-1 in the newly refurbished and resurfaced Azadi Stadium in Tehran to book
its place in the round robin tournament for a place in the Athens Olympics
2004. Iran won 9-2 in aggregate after defeating the Uzbek 3-1 away.
In an exhilarating game , Uzbekistan
drew first blood by going ahead 1-0 after the UAE referee Al Baloochi blew
for the penalty conceded by Kameli-Mofrad who fouled the Uzbek forward from
behind in the box. This goal came against the run of play, where Iran had
most of the ball and continued its attacking in real style.
This Uzbek goal was an awkening bell
for the young and highly talented Iranian team. The equalizer came after a
free kick in which Mobali sent a perfect cross in the box and Nosrati , the
tall Pas defender met it well despite being challenged and harassed by his
marker , into the right corner of the goal.
Just before the halftime whistle, an
intercepted ball just outside the box of Uzbekistan was controlled well by
Javad Kazemian but his follow up was hasty and he lost the ball after being
challenged and fell to the ground. Surprisingly it was declared a penalty by
the Ref and Navidkia , the joint top scorer of the league , rarely misses
such opportunities as he scored the 2nd goal.
The first half ended with Iran oozing
The second half started like a
lightening strike. Waves and waves of Iranian attacks with smooth collective
ground strokes , elegant distribution of the ball and the occasional
individual skills that puts Ali Karimi to shame , the young Iranians started
a show that have rarely been witnessed by the home crowd for a long time.
It all started with a piece of Maradona
style play by Arash Borhani. He got the ball halfway through the Uzbek half
and started his run. He dummied all the markers around him and with the
goalkeeper advancing at the right time and in full stretch to block him,
Borhani slotted the ball as cool as ice in the extreme right corner of the
This piece of individual skills by
Borhani erupted the crowd.
If the crowd thought of Borhaniís goal
as world class, they were to be excused for not having a clue on how the
next goal would be scored. Hossein Kaebi one of the best players on the
field and a certain star of the Iranian football at the tender age of 17,
received the ball from some immaculate moves from Mobali. He drew his
markers and had possession of the ball on the right corner of the Uzbek
goals and with little haste and quick thinking, he lobbed the ball on top of
the goalie, out of his reach into the top corner to score the fourth.
Another fantastic goal to remember by Kaebi. 4-1 for Iran and the game was
far from over.
The offensive game by Iran did not slow
down as between the goals a majestic piece of football by the trio
Mobali , Kaebi and Kazemian produced a
fantastic scene that deserved a goal, but for the last touch of Kazemian.
Kazemianís guilt was surely bothering
him by now, but he redeemed himself a bit when he passed a golden ball to
the advancing Borhani to score his second and Iranís fifth.
Thereafter, the game slowed down a bit
as the heroes of Azadi , started a Showtime with long streaks of passes. A
new hero was subbed in by the name of Hamid Shafie. The Zob Ahan player put
his name on the score-board after a magical run by Merhzad Madanchi on the
left flank which ended up with a perfect paced pass to Shafie, who
controlled the ball on the run and slotted in to announce goal number 6.
The game could have ended up in 7th or
8th goals if it was not for the easy misses of Borhani and Shafie,
however, with such a big score; it is difficult to criticize the performance
of the boys.
The match was perhaps one of the best
performances of any Iranian team in a long time. Skills, organization,
passion, beautiful goals and last but not least a disciplined team that has
the courage to go forward and quickly come back to defend was a delight to
watch. The game was for the purists who love beautiful football. For its
entertainment value the match deserved to have a full capacity crowd , but
disappointedly the Tehran crowd , bitter from the failure of their clubs ,
showed up in small numbers and instead of supporting the National Olympic
Team, they embarked on their usual rhetorical chants against rival clubsÖ..A
dark side of Iranís football that requires surgical operation.
A word of admiration for Mohammed Mayeli-Kohan,
the Olympic team coach. This team rekindles the memory of Iran 96 where a
young team lead by him full of unknown players hit Asia by storm and went on
to represent Iran in World Cup 98. Mayeli-Kohan once again proved his worth
as a trainer. And if history is anything to go by with, he will certainly
take this team to Athens Greece in summer of 2004.