Analyzing Wilmots’ selection.

Marc Wilmots started his first official match with Team Melli in the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers with a 2-0 win away to Hong Kong, is determined to build his own team rather than rely on the previous one created by Queiroz.

Morteza Mansouri
Morteza Mansouri (Sepahan)

In an evolutionary move, the Belgian head coach of Iran’s national team made a few changes to his players’ list for the next two matches against Cambodia at home and away to Bahrain. Wilmots is determined to show that he plans to evaluate and pick new players. The new squad list indicates that the Belgian coach has a great deal of confidence in the domestic League players, unlike his predecessor.

Wilmots invited Mohammad Mohebbi (21 Years) and Morteza Mansouri (29 years), two key players for current league leader Sepahan, for the first time. Wilmots’ decision to continue including Siavash Yazdani and Mohammad Naderi’s in the squad is another proof that he has much confidence in the domestic league players.

Although neither Yazdani or Naderi played in the match against Hong Kong, however, they were preferred over the experienced but ageing Vouria Ghafouri of Esteghlal. The four new players along with the regular defence players Majid Hosseini, Morteza Pouraliganji, Hossein Kanan-Zadegan will significantly lower the overall average age of Team Melli squad

The most notable omission in the list, however, must be the exclusion of Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who has been a regular fixture in the national team’s camps for the past seven years. Jahanbakhsh has just recovered from a slight knee injury and was a non-utilized bench player in today’s 3-0 Brighton win against Tottenham Hotspurs in the English Premier League.

Jahanbakhsh has been having an unfortunate time since his move to Brighton at the beginning to last season. The record signing by Brighton failed to score a single goal in all competitions last season. With the change of the head coach, Jahanbakhsh failed to even make it on the bench for his club and has yet to feature in the Premier League this season. His performance with Team Melli in the AFC Asian Cup was far from brilliant either.

Wilmots has also created a serious competition in goal for the ever-present Alireza Biranvand. In contention for the number one spot in the goal are Payam Niazmand and Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri, who have both managed to keep a clean sheet record after six weeks of Persian Gulf Premier League competition matches.

Biranvand, despite some flashes of brilliance, with the penalty save from Cristiano Ronaldo is the top of his achievements, has many suspect moments and quite a questionable temperament. Many critics believe that Niazmand is a better goalkeeper but lacks the international experience of Beiranvand.

Persepolis with five players, Tractorsazi Tabriz with four and Sepahan Isfahan with three players have the highest number in the new list of Team Melli squad. Esteghlal also has only two players after Vouria Ghafouri and Seyyed Hossein Hosseini were crossed off the final list.

Team Melli will play against Cambodia on Thursday, October 10, in Tehran and then travel to Bahrain to play against their national team on October 15th.