Grand performance by Team Melli

The Performance

There was indeed a general agreement that Team Melii did not perform very well against Syria in the empty tribunes of Azadi stadium. We gave the team the benefit of the doubt and considered their preparation as the worst in recent history.

Five days later, the Team Melli that turned up in Doha put the impressions of the Syria match to bed. A different lineup, 3 days or 6 sessions of practice, better organization, and with the Head Coach on the bench, the result was nothing short of admirable in every department.

Let us take a closer look at the Iraq match. Bear in mind that it was an away game for Team Melli and only 5days from the previous match.

Iraq had a total of 2 shots on target only, Iran had 12.

Iraq created 2 chances, Iran 12 out of which Team Melli scored 3 goals.

Iraq was slightly better in ball possession with 52% against Iran’s 48%

Now, Iraq is a strong contender for qualification. They have just stopped the Koreans in Seoul a few days back and were narrowly defeated by Team Melli in Bahrain. However, the early goal must have ruined Dick Advocaat’s plans from the onset. Scoring a goal in a counterattack, parking the bus for the rest of the match, and performing the circus of theatrics, time-wasting, faking injury is the hallmark of Iraqi football. They do frustrate teams, especially strong oppositions, by such tactics, and many times, they get the desired result. That early Jahanbakhsh header, however, ruined it for the Iraqi team.

Star Player

 Team Melli was efficient, strong, and highly organized in both the attack and defense and those factors reflect the result. As a group, they performed well with each player conducting their task effectively.

However, there are some outstanding individual performances, too. The players that need a special mention are:

Ahmad Noorollahi: The maestro of the team, a midfielder who was the engine of a very efficient midfield, perhaps the man of the match.

Mehdi Taremi: with one brilliant assist and a magical well-taken goal, deserves a mention.

Sardar Azmoun: Despite him being incognito most of the match, and that is no fault of him, his persistence and skills to find Taremi for the second goal, was world-class.

Shojaa Khalilzadeh: Another solid and error-free performance that deserves credit.

….And the star on the rise

The grand performance of Omid Noorafkan was a breath of fresh air. The Sepahan player was considered one of the best young players in Iran in his early footballing career. This 24 years player was a victim of changing so many clubs at early ages of development which never really stabilized his career. Now with Sepahan, he was worthy of being in the starting Team Melli’s lineup.

His performance against Iraq was truly outstanding. He hardly put a foot wrong and was the icing on the cake fr this Team Melli team.


The shortfalls, especially in the discipline department, still exist, but fortunately, it was not bad against Iraq. Saeid Ezatollahi’s yellow card was totally silly and uncalled for while Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s unnecessary plunge could have been a card with a different color.