Month: June 2024

Team Melli Legionnaires: Navigating Uncertain Paths

As the end of 2023/2024 season, the future prospects of Team Melli’s legionnaire players hang in the balance. Unfortunately, their performances in European leagues have been less than stellar. Let’s delve into the individual stories of these key players:

Mehdi Taremi

In the 2022/23 season, Taremi dazzled as a key player for FC Porto, scoring 22 goals in 33 Primeira Division games. However, last season, contract negotiations and reduced playing time dimmed his star. Porto’s head coach favored other players, and Taremi featured in only 23 league matches, netting 6 goals. His heart now beats for a move to Inter Milan, although no official contract has been announced yet.

Sardar Azmoun

Azmoun’s loan spell at AS Roma in Serie A didn’t pan out as expected. Despite Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga triumph, Azmoun played second fiddle to Lukaku and Dybala. His 23 appearances included just 3 starts, with 20 substitute roles. He found the net 3 times. AS Roma’s contract with Azmoun ends soon, and Leverkusen seeks offers—preferably an outright sale—to recoup their investment.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh

Jahanbakhsh’s stint at Feyenoord was forgettable. In 16 Eredivisie matches, he failed to score. Starting in only 3 games, he spent most of his time as a substitute. Feyenoord has let go of the 30-year-old captain and winger. Jahanbakhsh’s agents are actively scouting West European clubs, though Turkish sides have shown interest at lower wages.

Saman Ghoddos

Brentford’s Premier League journey didn’t feature Ghoddos prominently. His one-year contract expires soon, and the club shows no interest in an extension. Ghoddos made 19 appearances, mostly as a substitute, but did manage a memorable goal. His versatility caught the eye, but his next destination remains uncertain. Sweden beckons, but Ghoddos hopes for a more ambitious opportunity.

The Crucible Awaits: Team Melli’s Legionnaires

As the 2023/2024 season draws its final curtain, Team Melli’s legionnaire players find themselves at a crossroads. Their lackluster performances in European leagues cast shadows over their prospects. The stakes are high—the FIFA World Cup 2026 looms on the horizon, and Iran eyes a coveted spot among the final 48 teams.

The Unyielding Challenge

While Iran’s group isn’t insurmountable, the team’s fate hinges on its key players. Their game time and exposure to strong leagues will reverberate through every match. Can they rise to the occasion and propel Team Melli to glory?

The Race Against Time

With the 2024/25 season kicking off in August, these players face a tight schedule. Settling into new teams swiftly becomes paramount. As winter approaches, the four World Cup qualifying matches await—a litmus test for their mettle.

The arena awaits, and Team Melli’s fate hangs in the balance. Will these legionnaires seize their moment or fade into obscurity? Only time will tell.

Iran in Group A of the third round of World Cup qualifiers.

Team Melli has been drawn in group A of the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the draw that has just concluded in the Malaysian capital, Kula Lumpur.

Group A seems to be a balanced group with the defending AFC Asian Cup title holder Qatar and Uzbekistan being the strongest in the group along with Iran.

Group A

Group A

1 Iran000000002026 FIFA World Cup15 Oct25 Mar20 Mar5 Sep10 Jun
2 Qatar000000005 Jun14 Nov5 Sep10 Oct20 Mar
3 Uzbekistan00000000Fourth round10 Oct10 Jun15 Oct20 Mar5 Sep
4 United Arab Emirates0000000010 Sep19 Nov5 Jun14 Nov10 Oct
5 Kyrgyzstan0000000019 Nov25 Mar10 Sep10 Jun15 Oct
6 North Korea0000000014 Nov10 Sep19 Nov25 Mar5 Jun

The first match(es) will be played: on 5th September 2024.
Rules for classification: Tiebreakers

05-Sep-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 1


Azadi Stadium, Tehran
10-Sep-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 2


Abu Dhabi
16-Sep-24FIFA Futsal World CupGroup F

Bukhara Universal Sports Complex
19-Sep-24FIFA Futsal World CupGroup F

Bukhara Universal Sports Complex
22-Sep-24FIFA Futsal World CupGroup F

Bukhara Universal Sports Complex
10-Oct-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 3


15-Oct-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 4


Azadi Stadium, Tehran
14-Nov-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 5


Peyoung Yang
19-Nov-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 6



Taremi determined to power Iran to 2026 Finals

Taremi determined to power IR Iran to 2026 Finals – AFC ASIAN QUALIFIERSTUE, 25 JUNE, 2024

Kuala Lumpur: The pain of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s semi-final exit at the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ still stings for Mehdi Taremi but, as the striker tells, he is choosing to look towards the future; to his impending move to Serie A giants Inter Milan and to what he hopes will be another FIFA World Cup Finals appearance.

No nation knows semi-final heartbreak at the AFC Asian Cup quite like IR Iran; on seven occasions since 1976 – the most recent of the country’s three consecutive continental titles – Team Melli have fallen one hurdle before the tournament’s deciding match.

The latest loss remains fresh in the mind of Mehdi Taremi, the talismanic striker whose goals in recent years have been one of the drivers of his country’s qualification for the last two FIFA World Cup Finals, but who continue to fall short of a fourth AFC Asian Cup.

The 3-2 defeat to hosts Qatar – the defending champions who would go on to retain the title – in February hurt so much that Taremi has refused to watch reruns of the game and shies away from discussing the defeat.

#AsianCup2023 | Semi-final : Islamic Republic Of Iran 2 - 3 Qatar

“After the Qatar game, I never saw the game and I haven’t talked until now about that game,” he tells “I don’t want to look back and think about the past.

“We’re always thinking about what is in front of us. We’re looking forward to the next step and who we are going to play against.

“It’s still painful. I think we deserved to win the Asian Cup. We created a lot of chances there, we missed a lot of chances but that’s football.”

Missing scoring opportunities is not a characteristic often associated with Taremi. The 31-year-old hit a hat-trick against Hong Kong, China earlier this month to record his 48th goal in 804 matches as he continued his long-standing run of form for Iran.

It is his ability in front of goal that has seen Taremi establish himself among the leading scorers in European club football since his move to Portugal to join Rio Ave from Al Gharafa in Qatar before a subsequent move to Porto, where he has spent the last four seasons.

Taremi’s time on the Iberian peninsula, however, has come to an end with the expiration of his contract with the Estadio de Dragao-based club, and a new adventure in Italy with Inter Milan awaits.

“That five years, it has created this Mehdi,” he says of his time in Portugal, where he scored 112 times in 217 games in all competitions.

“I have become a more experienced guy, I have become a more professional guy and all of those people who have helped me there I appreciate all of those guys, the staff the players at Rio Ave club and at Porto as well. They have created this Mehdi.

“When you play in Asia and in Europe it’s completely different. There you have to be more professional, otherwise you cannot play at a high level.

“In Asia you have to too, but how they play there is faster and quicker and the games are at a higher level. When you play in the UEFA Champions League you have to be ready, you have to play against big players, big teams and that has made me different.”

Taremi’s ability in front of goal led to significant speculation over his next destination and, while the rumour mill generated talk of numerous possibilities, it was the newly crowned Italian champions who won the battle for his signature.

It is a move the Bushehr-born forward is relishing as it presents him with another opportunity to feature once more in the UEFA Champions League.

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“Inter has a strong team and from what I’ve seen on the TV the players are friendly, the team are strong and they are compact, together,” he says.

“I think there is a good feeling there between the players and the coaches. Inter is a big club and because of that I chose Inter. I want to play in Italy, I want to show myself there too.

“Since I was seven, eight years old I saw a lot of games in Italy, Spain, England, everywhere. When you watch the games you’re a supporter of the big clubs and Inter is one of those. I remember many things of Inter in the UEFA Champions League, in the league and the history of Inter and that makes me happy to go there. It convinced me to go there.

“My goal is to help the team as I can. I’ll try to do my job, scoring and assists. So let’s see what’s going to happen.”

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While Taremi will be adjusting to his new surroundings at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza – better known around the world as San Siro – he will also be attempting to ensure Iran qualify for another FIFA World Cup finals.

Having failed to score in his first FIFA World Cup appearance in Russia in 2018, Taremi was twice on target at Qatar 2022 against England and his aim is to improve on that tally in the Canada, Mexico and United States edition in 2026.

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“I always try to think about football and about my future,” he says. “I put a lot of effort each day into my job.

“The main goal is, first of all we have to go to the World Cup, and then my main goal is I have to try my best to score more than two goals at the next World Cup. So let’s see.”

2026 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifying Draw Mechanism

The road to the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the Asian region is an exciting journey, with teams vying for a chance to compete on the global stage. Here’s how the draw mechanism works for the third qualifying round:

Key Details:

  • Date and Location: The draw for the third qualifying round will take place on Thursday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Teams Involved: The teams participating in this round will discover their opponents during the draw.

Group Allocation Process:

  1. Seeding: Teams are divided into six seeds based on their FIFA rankings and historical performance.
    • 1st Seed: Japan, Iran, and South Korea
    • 2nd Seed: Australia, Qatar, and Iraq
    • 3rd Seed: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Jordan
    • 4th Seed: UAE, Oman, and Bahrain
    • 5th Seed: China, Palestine, and Kyrgyzstan
    • 6th Seed: North Korea, Indonesia, and Kuwait
  2. Group Formation:
    • The process begins by drawing the ball of the sixth-seeded teams from the pot first.
    • The first team drawn from this pot is placed in Group A, the second in Group B, and the third in Group C.
    • The process continues for the 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd seeds.
    • Finally, the draw concludes with the first-seeded teams being allocated to their respective groups.
  3. Group of Death:
    • The group of death refers to a challenging group with strong teams.
    • In this case, Team Melli finds itself as the first seed alongside Japan and South Korea.
    • While football progress in Asia has been remarkable, the team names and prestige still matter.
    • The presence of Australia and Qatar in the second seed, Saudi Arabia in the third seed, and the UAE in the 4th seed adds intrigue.
    • Placing the UAE in the 4th seed, Saudi Arabia in the 3rd seed, and one of Australia’s teams and Qatar in the 2nd seed next to a first-seeded team could create a formidable group.
  4. Qualification Path:
    • The top two teams from each group (3 groups of 6 teams) will qualify directly for the World Cup.
    • The third and fourth teams in each group will compete in two groups of 3 teams.
    • The winners of these smaller groups will secure the seventh and eighth quotas for Asia.
    • The remaining half of the quotas will be determined through playoff matches against teams from other continents.
  5. Ideal Group for Iran
  6. Worst case scenario

In summary, the 2026 World Cup Asian qualifying draw promises thrilling matchups, surprises, and intense battles as teams vie for their spot in the prestigious tournament. Let the journey continue!

FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers Third Round explained.

The second round of double qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup concluded on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, marking the beginning of two new chapters in Asian football.

2027 Asian Cup Qualification:

  • 18 teams secured their spots in the 2027 Asian Cup by finishing first or second in the second-round groups.
  • These 18 teams will also participate in the decisive third round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

The Third Round of 2026 World Cup Qualifiers:

  • In this stage, the 18 qualified teams will compete in a group system, with each group containing 6 teams.
  • The top two teams from each group will directly qualify for the 2026 World Cup.
  • For the first time in history, the Asian continent will have 8 seats at the World Cup.
  • The remaining 6 teams will vie for the last two spots through a fourth round.
  • The fourth round will feature two groups, each comprising 3 teams. The top team from each group will secure direct qualification to the World Cup.

Draw Date:

  • The draw for the third round of the 2026 Asian World Cup qualifiers is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the headquarters of the Asian Football Confederation.


The following teams finished first or second in their respective second-round groups:


The seeding for the draw was based on the FIFA Men’s World Rankings on 20 June 2024 (shown in parentheses below).

Each group will contain one team from each of the six pots.

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3
 Japan (17) Iran (20) South Korea (22) Australia (23) Qatar (35) Iraq (55) Saudi Arabia (56) Uzbekistan (62) Jordan (68)
Pot 4Pot 5Pot 6
 United Arab Emirates (69) Oman (76) Bahrain (81) China (88) Palestine (95) Kyrgyzstan (101) North Korea (110) Indonesia (134) Kuwait (137)

Best case Scenario for Iran

While teams in pots 2 and 3 can spring surprises for the three leading Teams, Japan, Iran and Korea Republic, the other teams are by no means easy opponents either. However, based on ranking, location and current form, Team Melli can do with a comfortable group. The best that Iran can get in the draw next week is this group.

These teams are quite familiar for Iran and the biggest advantage will be travelling time. Three of the teams are neighbours, while the other two (Jordan and Kyrgzysran) are 2 1/2 hrs to flying time Amman while Bishkek is 3 hrs 15 minutes.
In case Iran gets North Korea and/or Australia, it will be a logistical nightmare.

Iran and Uzbekistan Play to a Goalless Draw in Azadi Stadium

In a lackluster match at Azadi Stadium, Iran and Uzbekistan settled for a goalless draw on Tuesday evening at Azadi Stadium. Despite both teams securing qualification, their lack of urgency was evident throughout the final game of Group E of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

  • Player Attitude:
    • Iranian players seemed content with a draw, displaying little energy or drive to excel.
    • The forwards often fell into the offside trap, allowing Uzbekistan to maintain defensive comfort.
    • Uzbekistan, as promised by their coach Katanec, attacked with organized moves but lacked clinical finishing.
    • Saleh Hardani was probably the Most Valuable Player with his fine work in the first half.
    • Azmoun was hardly been awarded any meaningful ball and surrounded by two and sometimes three markers, he was easily neutralized by the Uzbek.
  • Key Moments:
    • Taremi came closest to scoring when he rattled the Uzbek upright. The move originated deep within Team Melli’s defense zone.
    • Azmoun’s deflection set up Jahanbakhsh, who delivered a sublime ball to Taremi. Unfortunately, the upright denied Iran a goal.
    • Omid Nourafkan attempted long-range shots.
    • Ali Beiranvand had little work to do but a late blunder nearly Iran the points while he did manage to deflect one Uzbek ball through the game.
  • Group Standings:
    • Despite the draw, Iran maintains its lead in the group.
    • Iran, Japan, and South Korea will be in pot one for the third-round draw.


  • Alireza Beiranvand
  • Mohammad Hossein Kanaanizadegan
  • Shoja Khalilzadeh
  • Saleh Hardani (yellow card in the 89th minute)
  • Milad Mohammadi
  • Omid Nourafken (substituted by Mohammed Ghorbani in the 73rd minute)
  • Saman Ghoddos (substituted by Shahriar Mughanlou in the 87th minute)
  • Alireza Jahanbakhsh
  • Mehdi Torabi (substituted by Abolfazl Jalali in the 87th minute)
  • Mehdi Taremi
  • Sardar Azmoun

Team Melli Aims for Top Spot in Group E Clash Against Uzbekistan

In tonight’s crucial match at Azadi Stadium, Team Melli faces Uzbekistan, both teams having already secured their place in the third round of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers. The stakes are high as they battle for supremacy in Group E.

Key Points:

  1. Uzbekistan’s Confidence:
    • In the pre-match press conference, Uzbekistan Coach Srečko Katanec emphasized that his team feels no pressure after qualifying. They intend to take the game to Iran and aim for victory.
    • Two Uzbek players, Auston Aronov and Jalaluddin Masharipov, who play in Iran for Esteghlal and Persepolis, could pose a challenge for Team Melli.
  2. Head-to-Head History:
    • Team Melli and Uzbekistan have faced each other 13 times, with Iran holding the upper hand, having secured 10 wins against a lone defeat.
    • The previous encounter between the two teams ended in a 2-2 draw.
  3. Unbeaten Streaks:
    • Both teams have lost only to Qatar in their last 10 games, specifically during the AFC Asian Cup 2023.
    • Their overall form remains strong, with no defeats in other matches.
  4. Defensive Concerns for Team Melli:
    • Critics have raised concerns about Team Melli’s defensive system. Despite aging center-back Shoja Khalilzadeh’s inclusion, cohesion remains an issue.
    • Coach Amir Ghaleneoi has introduced young talent into the defense, but better coordination is needed.
    • Defending as a unit has not been very well executed, a job the Team Melli defensive coordinators like Rahman Rezaei, need to focus on.
  5. Midfield and Attack:
    • Defensive midfielder Mohammed Ghorbani has performed well in recent matches, while Saman Ghoddos orchestrates offensive moves.
    • Strikers Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun are poised to strike if provided with quality service.
  6. Referee and Match Details:
    • The match will be officiated by Kim Jong Hyuk from South Korea.
    • Kickoff time: 20:30 local Iran time.

In summary, Team Melli faces a critical test against Uzbekistan, and fans eagerly await an exciting clash between these two talented sides. 🌟🇮🇷⚽️

Taremi Set to Elevate Inter Milan’s Attack in 2024-25

By Matteo Pifferi, Editor | June 8, 2024

Mehdi Taremi

Inter Milan is on the cusp of officially securing Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi. The Italian club has yet to officially announce the news of ex-Porto joining the club. Having already completed his medical, Taremi is poised to play a pivotal role for the Nerazzurri in the upcoming season.
Taremi is a free agent and would cost Inter Milan no transfer fee to be paid for Porto, although there is the customary signing-on fee that is usually awarded to players on joining.

Taremi scored a hat trick for Iran against Hong Kong in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying rounds.

A Determined Arrival

Taremi arrives at Inter with clear intentions. He emphatically states, “I’m not here to be a reserve player. I aspire to be more than just an option from the bench.” His ambition is palpable, and he aims to climb the ranks, leaving no doubt about his desire to contribute significantly from the first minute.

Beyond Luxury Alternatives

The Iranian forward won’t settle for a luxury role. Instead, he seeks to surpass expectations. Taremi’s mission is to become indispensable, not merely a backup to Marcus Thuram and Lautaro Martinez. Unlike Alexis Sanchez and Marko Arnautovic, who played supporting roles this season, Taremi aims for greater importance within the squad.

Instilling Confidence

Tuttosport highlights Taremi’s determination to win over teammates and fans alike. He plans to impress Inzaghi, ensuring that the coach considers him for every game and competition. Taremi’s debut in Portugal, where he scored a hat-trick for Rio Ave, serves as a testament to his capabilities.

Training Advantage

Unlike his national team-bound counterparts, Taremi can start training immediately. This advantage positions him well enough to convince Inzaghi of his readiness to lead Inter’s attack during a demanding season.

Mehdi Taremi’s arrival promises excitement and ambition at Inter Milan. Fans eagerly await his impact on the pitch.

1: Source: Taremi & Carboni to complete revamped Inter attack in 2024-25

H2H: Uzbekistan

On Tuesday, Team Melli will play its final match in the FIFA World Cup 2026 round 2 qualification against Uzbekistan.

The match will determine who will lead the group as both teams have accumulated 13 points from their five matches with Iran leading by the +12 goal difference while Uzbekistan is +9.

The first time these two teams met was in the 1998 Asin Games in Bangkok, where Ali Daei single-handedly swept past the Uzbek with a hat trick, and Ali Mosavi completed the rout with a goal.

It took 14 years for Uzbekistan to register its first and only win against Iran in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Azmoun, Taremi, and Daei are jointly the top scorers against Uzbekistan with 3 goals each.


Sardar AZMOUN3
Rouzbeh CHESHMI1

Taremi’shat trick sinks Hong Kong

Soft spot-kick turns the tide for Iran in the Fifa World Cup qualifier, but Hong Kong shows guts with new boys Timmy Ma and Anthony Pinto on target

Paul McNamara

Paul McNamara+ FOLLOW

6 Jun 2024

Hong Kong football christened two new heroes on Thursday night, but Wolfgang Luisser’s first game in temporary charge ended in a controversial 4-2 World Cup qualifying defeat at home to Iran.

Timmy Ma Hei-wai adeptly swept home a cross from Tan Chun-lok after 15 minutes of his senior international debut. Anthony Pinto was even quicker off the mark, dispatching a low effort past Payam Niazmand only two minutes after replacing Ma in the second half.

Ma’s stunning introduction was sandwiched by a pair of penalties from Mehdi Taremi, the second awarded after Yapp Hung-fai appeared to legally dispossess the striker in the box.

Taremi, on the verge of a transfer from FC Porto to Inter Milan, chipped in a Panenka kick before completing a hat-trick 11 minutes after half-time. But Pinto, released by English League One club Bolton Wanderers, soon fired home to give Hong Kong hope.

Yapp Hung-fai dives to meet Mehdi Taremi in the incident that led to the second penalty. Photo: Sam Tsang

Sardar Azmoun finally killed off the hosts when he escaped the attention of Leon Jones to slip home Iran’s fourth with 25 minutes left.

There were no complaints about the first penalty. Jones, another full Hong Kong debutant, used his arm to block a floated 11th-minute cross from Mehdi Ghayedi. Taremi ignored the howls to place his penalty into the bottom-left corner.

There was a 137-position gulf between the teams in the Fifa world rankings, but after a slow start, the hosts gave as good as they got on a stirring night at Hong Kong Stadium.

They had an early let-off when Helio Goncalves deflected a Taremi strike onto the crossbar. Iran sustained the attack, and Azmoun’s volley had Yapp tumbling to his left to tip behind.

Hong Kong’s anemic opening gave way to a gutsy, ambitious performance, sparked when Tan stole possession on the quarter-hour. The midfielder was allowed to progress down the left and measure a delivery to the near post, where Ma arrived from the opposite flank to steer a finish across goalkeeper Niazmand.

Eastern attacker Ma was so far out of the international reckoning until recently that he did not make the squad for the under-23s’ Asian Games campaign last September.

Yapp needed a strong hand to beat out an effort from Azmoun, but Iran’s discomfort was laid bare when Amin Hazbavi sliced a panicked clearance past a post.

The visitors were given a break, however, when Qasim Matar Al-Hatmi, the referee, awarded a spot-kick for a foul by Yapp. The goalkeeper seemed to make clean contact with the ball as he dived at Taremi’s feet in the 32nd minute, but Hong Kong’s protests were waved away.

Before kick-off, the home fans had hoisted a banner emblazoned with images of Jorn Andersen, accompanied by the words “thank you”, in tribute to the Norwegian, who last week resigned as head coach.

Fans unfurl a banner to thank Jorn Andersen, the former head coach. Photo: Sam Tsang

And their backing created a wall of noise throughout as their team, in keeping with the progress made under Andersen, battled to recover from Taremi’s second penalty. Songs stuck in the throats of most of the 9,992 crowd when the dead-eyed Taremi angled a sidefooted shot into the corner to claim the match ball.

Pinto pounced on ponderous efforts to clear and caressed a first-time left-foot shot inside Niazmand’s right post, but Azmoun extinguished any comeback hopes. This was a night, however, that will be recalled for Luisser’s impressive first audition for the job, and the birth of two new Hong Kong stars.