Déjà vu. Omid Team eliminated!

Omid Team has been eliminated from the group stages of the AFC Asian U23 Championship and with it the eternal dream of qualification to the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

In the final do and die match against winless China, Omid Team struggled badly and wasted chance after chance to score goals until the 85th minute when a dubious penalty call by the referee allowed Noorafkan to score from the spot-kick. It was one goal too little and too late despite Uzbekistan losing their match against South Korea 2-1.

Uzbekistan qualified as the second of the group with 4 points, same as Iran but with a better goal difference of one goal.

In a match of wasted chances, especially the one that profligate Mehdi Ghaedi wasted while the goal and the net was at his mercy, wide open with the Chinese keeper stranded and nowhere near covering his goal. Ghaedi got the loose ball and with all the time and options available to him, he decides to head the ball into the empty net but he missed by a big margin!

How cruel and how heartbreaking!

This was the final nail in the coffin as the likes of Sayyadmanish, Shojaei, Mehdikhani kept shooting blanks and wasting chance after chance against a Chinese team that had nothing to play for but pride.

At the end of the day, this Omid Team did not deserve to qualify with these players and coaches.  The passive, back-foot approach, the helter-skelter style employed by Hamid Estili once again looked out of date against opponents who embody many of the principles associated with modern football. Estili, never an accomplished coach in the first place had a disadvantage with a bunch of individual players, who did not truly understand the concept teamwork and tactical (not that there was much of that in evidence) discipline, hence that combination turned into what the experts expected, failure of Team Omid.

It was Déjà vu.

That eerie feeling that the fans and media personnel have lived through the situation on numerous spells. The same lame excuses, the same justifications, the same “We were unlucky” and the same “We will do better next time, inshallah!”

44 years since the last Olympics, and by the next cycle, it will be 48 years wait. At this rate, we will be passing the half-century of years since Iran has made the Olympics Games football competition, a feat that nations who are supposedly below Iran in World Football Ranking have achieved many times.

Ultimately, in this current messy organizational structure and management deficiencies in Iran’s football at all levels, fans have to get used to failures after failures. You reap what you sow, nothing more nothing less. Deep-rooted changes have to be implemented and cleansing is done by competent professionals rather than devout loyalists. Success is achieved only by skillful, learned, experienced professional who base their work on systems and processes of modern football management.