Day: June 3, 2024

Ghalenoei’s antic continues.

As Team Melli departs for Hong Kong for what can only be considered a formality and practice match, head coach Amir Ghalenoei’s team selection raises significant questions about his motives and judgment.

The exclusion of Ramin Rezaeian, one of the standout performers in Iran’s league with Sepahan this season, is particularly perplexing. To Ghalenoei’s embarrassment, Rezaeian, a versatile player capable of filling multiple roles on the pitch, scored a hat trick in his last match just a day before the squad for Hong Kong was announced. Despite this impressive performance, Ghalenoei did not provide a convincing explanation for Rezaeian’s omission, a pattern observed throughout his tenure with the team.

In contrast, Ghalenoei was more transparent about the exclusion of Hossein Hosseini, citing emotional pressure as a reason for giving Esteghlal’s goalkeeper a break for the Hong Kong match.

While Rezaeian’s exclusion appears to be a poor decision, the inclusion of 35-year-old Shojaa Khalilzadeh is equally questionable. Although Iran is not expected to face a stern challenge from Hong Kong, Khalilzadeh has struggled against tougher opponents and seems unprepared for the upcoming stages of the qualifiers. Even in the domestic league with Tractor, Khalilzadeh’s performances have ranged from poor to average. Ghalenoei’s decision to rely on a slowing central defender, who was outplayed in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup 2023 against Qatar, raises doubts about his strategic planning.

Team Melli’s midfield also appears to lack creativity, command, and control. Saman Ghoddos is probably the only player who has consistently performed well as an attacking midfielder. Ahmad Nourollahi, who has been a close second, finds himself on Ghalenoei’s bad list. Nourollahi, an Al-Wehda player, was excluded from selection due to disciplinary reasons after abandoning the Team Melli camp without permission. While this decision might be justified, it leaves a void in the midfield that will be difficult to fill.

As Ghalenoei continues to navigate his controversial team selections, the fans and media are left questioning whether these decisions will benefit Team Melli in the long run or hinder their progress in crucial stages of the qualifiers.

Team Melli departs for Hong Kong

Team Melli convoy left for Shanghai, China en route to Hong Kong for the return match against Hong Kong in the qualifying stages of the FIFA World Cup 2026. Persepolis player Mehdi Torabi could not accompany the national team despite being invited by the coaching staff due to illness (food poisoning).

Also, Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Ghaedi have taken direct flights to Hong Kong from Rome and Dubai to join the squad at their destination. Iran’s national team has gained 10 points before the fifth week of Group E of the qualifying round of the FIFA World Cup, like Uzbekistan, so the two teams have secured their early qualification to the next stage. Team Melli will play against Hong Kong on Thursday at 15:30, then return to Tehran to play against Uzbekistan on June 11 at Azadi Stadium.

Amir Ghalenoei: Insights on Iran’s Football Journey

Absentees justifications

Amir Ghalenoei, the head coach of the Iran national football team, recently shared his thoughts on the team’s achievements and upcoming challenges. Speaking on the sidelines of a practice session just before heading to Hong Kong for the match in the qualifying rounds of FIFA World Cup 2026, Ghalenoei highlighted several key points:

  1. Victory Against Turkmenistan: A Milestone
    • The recent match against Turkmenistan held significant importance for Team Melli. Not only did we secure a win in Ashgabat, but it was also the first time they defeated Turkmenistan. This victory ensured our qualification to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers and qualification to the AFC Asian Cup 2027.
    • Despite winning by just one goal, the three points earned were invaluable. Ghalenoei emphasized the team’s resilience and determination.
  2. Leadership in the Group
    • Another noteworthy achievement was becoming the group leader. This position reflects the team’s consistency and performance throughout the qualifying matches.
    • Ghalenoei praised the players’ efforts and teamwork, acknowledging their role in securing this leadership position.
  3. Balancing Experience and Youth
    • The coach discussed the importance of integrating young talents into the national team. Players invited to the previous camp showcased their skills in league matches, providing hope for the team’s future.
    • Ghalenoei emphasized that these young players should learn alongside experienced teammates. Their development will contribute to Iranian football’s growth in the long term.
  4. Seyyed Hossein Hosseini’s Absence
    • Addressing Seyyed Hossein Hosseini’s absence from the current camp, Ghalenoei clarified that the decision was based on various factors.
    • While Hosseini performed well in the recently concluded league, he faced mental challenges after the Esteghlal vs. Peykan match. The coaching staff engaged in discussions with him, considering both physical and mental aspects.
    • Ghalenoei hinted that Hosseini’s situation could be resolved, and he might be invited to the match against Uzbekistan.
  5. Ramin Rezaian’s Prospects
    • Ramin Rezaian, another player under consideration, could feature in the next camp. His potential and performance will be closely monitored.
    • Team Melli’s departure for an away trip without training in Tehran is a rare occurrence. Ghalenoei expressed optimism about the team’s adaptability and the changes they’ve implemented.

In summary, Amir Ghalenoei’s insights provide a glimpse into the team’s dynamics, challenges, and aspirations. As they prepare for future matches, Team Melli aims to maintain their winning streak and continue making strides in international football.