Tag: Abu Dhabi

Lippi ” China need ‘more focus’ ahead of Iran Asian Cup quarter-final clash”

Marcello Lippi said China need to learn how to focus for an entire game ahead of their crunch Asian Cup quarter-final with Iran, the biggest – and possibly last – game of his tenure.

The Italian World Cup-winning coach hailed his players after they overcame Thailand 2-1 to reach the last-eight, saying they had proved they were among the best in Asia.

But Lippi, 70, said China still had a habit of drifting in and out of games after another Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in which they trailed 1-0 midway through the second half.

“Chinese players have to improve psychologically,” said Lippi, who is expected to leave China after the Asian Cup following two and a half years at the helm.

“Sometimes they need to be much more focused and concentrated and pay more attention during the game. It’s a psychological thing. It’s very important to have the same intensity, the same determination from the beginning of the game.”

China were under the cosh against Thailand on Sunday until Lippi switched his formation at half-time, turning the tables as they swamped the Thais for much of the second period.

But Iran, Asia’s top-ranked team, will provide a much stiffer test and the expectation is that after Thursday’s game in Abu Dhabi, China will be packing their bags.

Lippi already appeared to be defending his record when he volunteered statistics that in his 10 competitive matches, China have won six and lost only two, to Iran and South Korea.

“That means I have to be very proud of my players,” he said, adding: “I’m very satisfied because this team is getting great results and we’re in the quarter-finals, which means we’re one of the top eight Asian teams.”

Reaching the quarters matches China’s performance of 2015, when the Asian Cup had only 16 teams rather than 24. China have never won the trophy in 11 previous attempts.

However, Lippi also sounded the alarm for future Chinese teams after fielding an ageing line-up including four starters in their thirties, and only one younger than 26.

Captain Zheng Zhi, widely expected to quit the national set-up after the Asian Cup, remains a vital cog at 38, while goal-scorers Xiao Zhi and Gao Lin are 33 and 32 respectively.

“I can say this is a problem for the future of the Chinese team,” Lippi said. “Because if the best players are always (in their thirties) it means that right behind them there aren’t any young players coming up.”

Queiroz “It is a 50/50 match against Oman”

Abu Dhabi

In the pre-match Press conference today, Carlos Queiroz has said that the group stages and the results achieved by the teams are history. He labelled his side’s AFC Asian Cup Round of 16 match against Oman as a ’50-50′ tie.

Queiroz has analysed the performance of Oman and seems to be highly impressed with Pim Verbeek’s Oman. The Portuguese head coach of Team Melli warned his players to be on their toes against the Gulf Cup champions ahead of the last 16 tie at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

“The Oman team is a very good team. They have prepared well and have achieved fantastic results over the last year or so. They played 23, 24 matches and only lost two or three.

“They have a very good coach in Pim Verbeek and we must be careful against them,” said Queiroz.

Oman may have qualified as one of the four best third-placed teams but turned heads with fighting performances against Uzbekistan and Japan before losing 2-1 and 1-0 respectively.

Their determination to qualify for the knockout stage was so great that they kept pushing right till the end against Turkmenistan on Matchday Three, with the third goal coming deep in stoppage time, with the 3-1 win sealing their place.

“They have been very impressive but having said that, I am confident that if we play our game and the players express themselves, we will progress,” Queiroz added

Focus, said the Portuguese tactician, will be key.

“The group stage results do not matter now. We played for points then but now, it is about survival. I rate the match as 50-50 with everything for the winners and nothing for the losers.

“There is no room for mistakes, regrets, apologies and tomorrows. It all comes down to 90 minutes and we must make sure we come out on top.”

Iran, stressed Queiroz, will keep the game simple.

“I always tell my players to keep it simple. Control the ball, pass the ball, don’t lose the ball and score. When we have the ball, we must always be positive and think of scoring.”

That they have done very well, having defeated Yemen 5-0 and Vietnam 2-0 before playing to a 0-0 draw with Iraq.

“We have our dreams, our aspirations and our targets. When we started, I said we had seven finals to play and tomorrow is the fourth one. I am confident my players will deliver what is expected of them.”

Verbeek’s Oman are also equally confident, despite having to face the Continent’s top ranked team.

“Rankings do not matter in a match like this. We will do everything we can to advance to the quarter-finals. My players are excited and confident,” said Verbeek, who has guided Oman to their first AFC Asian Cup knockout stage in four attempts.

“These are the kind of games we train for, whether as coaches or players. Iran are a fantastic team and they will be a challenge but as everyone saw, we are a team who fight till the end,” said Verbeek.

Aussie fitness guru working magic with Asian Cup favourites

By Vince Rugari
The Sydney Morning Herald

When serial pest Peter Hore ran onto the MCG and cut down the goal nets on November 29, 1997, Dr Craig Duncan watched the agony unfold from his lounge room in Sydney.

More than two decades on, Duncan is still a proud Australian – but all his knowledge, intuition and mental energy is now dedicated to Iran, the team who profited from the carnage on that fateful night.

Iran are one of the favourites to take out this year’s Asian Cup, and for good reason. They are Asia’s top-ranked team according to FIFA and one of the confederation’s traditional superpowers. Team Melli are coming off a World Cup campaign in which they only narrowly failed to qualify from a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

Coached by famed Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz – who was linked to the Socceroos job following Ange Postecoglou’s resignation – Iran have arguably their most talented squad since the ‘golden generation’ that knocked Australia out of qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France. But they have not won the Asian Cup or even made the final for 43 years.

That’s where Duncan, one of Australia’s leading sports scientists, comes in. A key cog of Postecoglou’s backroom team during his time in charge of the Socceroos, he was brought into the Iran set-up in October at the behest of Queiroz and his assistant Mick McDermott to help harness Iran’s incredible potential.


Duncan has been given a broad high performance role, contributing in a number of portfolios including fitness, sports science and rehabilitation to assist in bringing the absolute best out of their players at the Asian Cup.

For those who know Duncan, it should come as no surprise that he has not pondered the significance of being an Australian working for Iran in football since starting his new job.

“That was the past and yes, at that moment in time, I remember very little other than being obviously upset that we didn’t qualify for the World Cup,” he told the Herald. “I remember that guy taking down the net. But I have not thought one moment of that night. It has nothing to do with the project I am now working on.”

Many Socceroos fans would love to see the two nations to cross paths again. Despite being in the Asian Football Confederation since 2005, Australia has incredibly managed to avoid Iran through three Asian Cups and three World Cup qualifying campaigns. That night is still the last time they met.

If Australia finishes second in Group B and Iran tops Group D as expected, the only way they can face each other in the UAE is if both teams make the final.

On form, the Socceroos would go in as rank underdogs. Team Melli are in imperious form, having begun their Asian Cup run with a 5-0 belting of Yemen. Next up are a fast-improving Vietnam on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi, a clash which should be one of the most entertaining of the tournament so far.

Duncan cannot speak highly enough of Queiroz, the former right-hand man of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United who is reportedly set to take over Colombia after the Asian Cup. “His attention to detail, his work ethic, his wisdom, his overall intelligence is just unique. It’s just a very enjoyable experience to be around him,” he said.

Duncan naturally is keeping an eye on the Socceroos, but his priorities are clear. “There’s absolutely players I have known there for a long period of time and I wish them all the best,” he said.

“It’s obviously my country, but I’m very focused on what is in front of me. You can’t wipe away what I went through with a lot of those guys in the last World Cup cycle. But football’s a world game and there’s always new challenges.”

Jorge Fosati to replace Queiroz in Team Melli !!

An Colombian website  caracoltv claims that the next Team Melli coach will be coming from Uruguay. The site mentioned Jorge Fosati as the successor to Carlos Queiroz whose contract ends after the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

The website wrote that while Carlos Queiroz is expected to lead the Colombian national team, Jorge Fosati will take the helm at Iran’s national team. Day after day, the news that Carlos Queiroz’s will be taking over the head coach job of the Colombian national team are getting stronger , naturally a replacement coach should also be appointed to lead Iran in place of the Portuguese. In the meantime, Jorge Fosati of Uruguay is on the verge of being appointed to that post in Iran’s national football team. A few days ago, the Colombian Football Federation has denied any communication with Luis Felipe Scolari.

In Abu Dhabi, Carlos Queiroz has neither denied nor confirmed this news after he was asked by a reporter prior to the game against Vietnam. He asked the media to only ask questions about the match as any other question about his future is an insult to the team and the fans.

Carlos Queiroz is preparing Team Melli to play Iraq for a top of the table match in Dubai in the final match of Group D of AFC Asian Cup 2019

Iran vs Vietnam preview

Abu Dhabi:
teammelli.com reports

With the first match jitters safely overcome, Islamic Republic of Iran’s Saman Ghoddos says Team Melli are looking forward to locking horns with Vietnam in an AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Group D tie on Saturday.

The three-time champions opened their campaign on a high note, defeating Yemen 5-0 on Monday, but Ghoddos admitted Iran had gone into the match nervous.

“It’s not easy to play the first game in a tournament. It’s always stressful and nervous and you’re trying to do your best so sometimes the play can be a bit stiff, but we showed a good result by scoring five goals and keeping a clean sheet.

“So that’s very important and we have big confidence in the team now,” said the midfielder, who plays for Amiens SC in the French Ligue One.
Iran however, said Ghoddos, are not thinking of the title just yet despite scoring the highest win in the first round of matches.

“That’s not a thought in our minds right now, because it’s a long tournament and it’s tough games.”

“We’re just looking forward to the next game, and right now that’s Vietnam. That’s important for us, to just think about the next game and not think too many steps in front.

“To be honest I haven’t watched the other games, just to keep focused on my own game, so I don’t know the level yet,” added Ghoddos, who came on as a substitute to score Iran’s fifth goal against Yemen.

Saman Ghoddos

Iran have seen enough of Vietnam to know the Southeast Asians will be handful at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

“The coach and his team have analysed them and we have watched some videos. It’s a good team, all respect to them.

“However, we are going to play our game and we are not thinking so much about the other team.”

The Vietnam coach realises the magnitude of the task that lies ahead of his team but is also aware that after the slip up against Iraq, the match against Iran is a must win.

Park Hang-seo’s charges were the team in control for most of their group D opener against Iraq, and deserved at least a point for their efforts. However, a sweetly struck freekick in the dying minutes of the game left them with nothing to show for their efforts – a scenario that Hang-seo is keen to avoid a repeat of when Vietnam takes on pre-tournament favourites Iran today.

“It was disappointing as we led twice only to lose [against Iraq] but now, we must focus on Iran and getting a good result against them,” he said.

Hang-seo, who masterminded Vietnam to an impressive AFF Suzuki Cup victory just recently, spoke also of how his team cannot match up to Iran in many aspects of the game but has the mental fortitude to see a victory through.

“We will be playing the strongest team in Asia tomorrow. They are technically, tactically and physically better than us but having said that, we will play to our strengths to get the desired result.

“It will be very hard for us as Iran are a highly experienced side but my players have got strong mental strength and I believe we can overcome Iran,” he said.

Notes from the Asian Cup 2019 – First round.


The Asian Cup which is held in UAE, has brought a lot of interest from sport community across Asia and from other parts of the world. The media is buzzing and reporters from far places have gathered to cover this major event. The Japanese, by far, are the biggest group.

Iranian media is present as always, but I cannot help notice the smaller numbers, relatively speaking, compared to the previous tournaments. The economic situation in Iran and the exchange rate of the Riyal to dollar has a massive effect on this shortage. It is three times more expensive for the Iranians to travel abroad and that is if they are lucky to get the hard currency.  Iranian football federation FFIRI, which has always subsided and supported a number of journalists to cover major Asian completions and especially the Asian Cups, has found itself in dire straits this year. Simply put, there are not enough funds to support larger number of media personnel.


The first match against Yemen was disappointing in the number of Iranian fans. Although, the majority of the 5300 fans in Al Jazeera Club Stadium were Team Melli fans, it was less than expected in a country that has a large number of Iranian expatriates.  But, even with those small number, the Team Melli fans like always, were colorful, vociferous and  cheering the team all the way to the end.

With that famous chants of “Iran Chikaresh Mikoone…Soorakh Soorakhas Mikone” reverberating through the stands, it gave the stadium a fantastic atmosphere which many foreign journalist who have never attended Iran matches before, a sense of appreciation and admiration. “You should experience 100,000 fans do that in Azadi…Now, that is will surely energize your adrenaline.“  I told some of them.

The fans played its expected role in supporting the players and for that Team Melli players showed them respect and went toward both sections to thank the fans.


Carlos Queiroz seems to be calm and collected person during interviews and press conferences. It does not reflect his character on the field and during training with the players. Whatever pros and cons he has , at the end of the day and for what it is worth, he is the perfect coach for Team Melli and I hope his legacy stays in Iran for a long time.

Iranians by nature are not a much disciplined nation in the style of Japanese and Europeans.  That reflects on players naturally. In football, lack of discipline is a recipe for disaster.   Years after years of watching Iranian football, I have detected this lack of discipline in and out of the field by even the most famous and popular players. In fact, the most popular they were and more indiscipline. There is one shining exception in Ali Daei.  Carlos Queiroz has changed all that. He showed and continues showing his players and staff f the meaning of discipline and respect. For that alone, this man deserves accolades and one hopes his legacy in Team Melli stays for a long time to come.


But Queiroz has this other side of his character , the combative !

After the match with Yemen, I was not alone in thinking that there were some wild tackles flying from Iranian players on the opposition. Really uncalled for in a game against weak opposition like Yemen where risks of yellow or even worst red card is present. Many Foreign and Iranian journalist thought that this was not necessarily, while some put it to player’s nerves in the first match.

In the post press conference, however, Queiroz was in total denial mentioning an incident that Azmoun pushed a Yemeni player to the ground. Queiroz defended his star player by saying that the Yemeni player pushed first!!! Mr. Queiroz….this is NOT a school yard where a boy pushes a boy to the ground and beats him up because that boy shoved first. A simple act like that push by Azmoun and he could have ended up in the shower because of violent conduct, subsequently suffering through a day off in the next match.

Arab teams are notoriously famous for provocation and Queiroz after so many years in this area should know much better than excuse his players for retaliation!  Has he already forgotten what happened to Mehrdad Pooladi in Australia against Iraq???

Queiroz is not thinking beyond the first match in Asian Cup


Abu Dhabi: Carlos Queiroz will lead tournament favourites the Islamic Republic of Iran into the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 having instructed his players to focus on winning one game at a time as the nation aims to end a 43-year drought at the Continental championship.

The Portuguese coach leads a squad that leans heavily on the one that represented the country at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia in the summer, with 18 of the players who impressed against Morocco, Spain and Portugal slated to make the trip to the UAE.

But while the strength in depth of Queiroz’s squad has the Iranians marked out as one of the nations fancied to win the title, the former Real Madrid coach claims his focus is solely on his side’s opening game against Yemen on January 7 in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s the first game and there are no small teams in the first game,” Queiroz told the-AFC.com. “Everyone’s hopes are open and the challenge is in front of everybody in the first game.

The first game is always the most difficult game in these kind of competitions because it’s everything for the winner and almost nothing for the loser in a short competition of three games. It is a game we need to win, like always. It’s a crucial game.

Iran go into the clash as Asia’s No. 1 ranked side while Yemen are 26th in Asia and 135th in the world, but Queiroz is wary of the threat posed by Jan Kocian’s team and knows his players must be fully focused on the task at hand.

“I was checking the results of the Iran national team in different competitions, at under 17s, under 20s, and never has Iran beaten Yemen in any official competition,” he said. “There’s a reason for that: Yemen might draw or lose, but Yemen are a tough team to beat.

When the game starts against Yemen, we need to get rid of the frustrations we have around the team and focus on ourselves. It’s about the 11 boys on the pitch that start the game against the Yemen team. It’s about the coaching staff, it’s about ourselves and we need to go for it.

We cannot start a game like this in the Asian Cup and think about anything else. It’s 90 minutes to play for the people, 90 minutes to play for the joy and happiness and pride of Iran.”

Iran have not won the AFC Asian Cup since the third of three consecutive titles in 1976, but the country remains one of the Continent’s strongest, with Queiroz leading the nation to back-to-back appearances at the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 2014 and 2018.

And although the country’s status among the elite of Asian football is undisputed, the 65-year-old continues to warn his players against complacency.

Of course, it is well known and recognised and well appreciated that the Iran national team have made fantastic progress in terms of attitude, organisation and discipline but the biggest mistake that happens around teams is that when you have good moments some people think that it’s enough, that we don’t need to do anything more,” he said.

They have the wrong perceptions that the other competitors are just sitting at home and watching us, but this is a completely wrong impression because Qatar is working hard, UAE, Saudi Arabia.

“They’re working harder because they saw the progress of Iran and they have put huge efforts into coming from behind. Palestine, all these teams, Vietnam. People think this competition is easy, but Vietnam have made fantastic progress over the last few years. They have a great mood in this moment because they have just won an important competition in Southeast Asia.”

We cannot follow on this track, where some people think that things are easy for us. It’s the opposite, because the people who want to think things are easy in football are just trying to jeopardise our hopes. We will be humble, respect all of our opponents and try to do our best.

With that in mind, Queiroz stresses that it is Yemen rather than who Iran might face at any other stage of the tournament – including the final in Abu Dhabi on February 1 – is uppermost in his mind.

In these kind of competitions there is no tomorrow if we don’t win the present and first of all our Asian Cup final is against Yemen,” he said. “I don’t care about anything else around us.

And when we finish the game against Yemen, then it’s time to think about Vietnam and after that Iraq. For the moment I want to develop this kind of instinct in my team, to keep all of our energy so that it explodes in the 90 minutes against Yemen. All the rest doesn’t count for us.”

Saeid Ezzatollahi is out of Asian Cup 2019

Saeid Ezzatollahi  the Iranian national team midfielder who  has recently joined Team Melli squad in Doha, has been declared unfit and will lose the chance to take part in the 17th AFC Asian Cup 2019.

The disappointing news on Ezzatollahi who was injured and recently recovered, was released after the medical team examined the English championship side, Reading the defensive midfielder for fitness and recovery. In consultation with the coaches, it was decided that Ezzatollahi was not at the optimum shape and condition for the grueling tournament. Ezzatollahi  has not featured for his team , Reading for the last three weeks but it was hoped that he will be fully recovered by the time the championship starts in Abu Dhabi. Queiroz personally relayed the bad news to the midfielder.

The news is a big blow for the team and the supporters.

Team Melli head Coach will be announcing the final squad list  for the Asian Cup 2019 on Wednesday, and he has already mentioned that he needs fully fit and ready players against the tough opponents in the Asian Cup. Queiroz has emphasized, that the list of omitted players will be privately discussed with the individuals and will be conducted in a civilized and respectful atmosphere before being publicized.

Team Melli is scheduled to meet Qatar on December 10 at Khalifa Stadium at 20:00. The seventeenth Asian Cup will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates on January 5th, and the Iranian team is set to end 43 years of misery at these Championship. Yemen, Vietnam, and Iraq, are Iran opponents in the group stage of the competition

Team Melli Final Training Schedule for AFC Asian Cup announced.

Iran’s football federation announced the schedule for the final Team Melli training camp up to the AFC Asian Cup 2019  in UAE.

the federation’s official website mentioned that after the approval of the President of the FFIRI, the training plan will be held in Qatar and will last until the AFC Asian Cup.

The squad will utilize Camp Aspire facilities that was provided by the Qatari Football Federation. Most training session will be held in Camp Aspire while official matches will be held at designated stadiums. The camp will start on  December 17th  and conclude on January 2nd  2019. The squad will fly to Abu Dhabi on January 2nd, ahead of its first game on December 7th against Yemen  in Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.

During the training Camp in Doha, Team Melli will play 2 friendly matches and possibly a third against Lebanon which is yet to be confirmed.

The first match will be against Palestine on the 24th December, and a week later , Team Melli will face Qatar..

Meanwhile, the final roster for the Asian Cup will be announced on December 26th.

Iran to face Iraq, Yemen and Vietnam in AFC Asian Cup 2019

The draw for the AFC Asian Cup was held In a grand spectacle at the United Arab Emirates Burj Khalifa,

Team Melli , Asia’s best ranked side, who are looking to secure their fourth title and their first since 1976, were drawn in Group D alongside 2007 winners Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen, who will be appearing in their first tournament since their unification.

 Hosts UAE, who were positioned in first place in Group A, will kick-off Asia’s most prestigious tournament against Bahrain at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on January 5, 2019.

The host nation will be looking to improve on their second place finish the last time the competition was held in the UAE in 1996, but will face formidable opponents in India and Thailand who complete the cast in Group A.

Meanwhile defending champions Australia were drawn in Group B with 2004 and 2011 quarter-finalists Jordan, Palestine, and Syria, who return to the competition following their absence in Australia 2015.

Continent powerhouses and 2015 finalists Korea Republic, who are on the hunt for their first title since 1960, were drawn in Group C with two-time runners-up China PR as well as two debutants in the UAE 2019 – Kyrgyz Republic and Philippines.

In Group E, two-time champions Saudi Arabia were drawn with 2011 hosts Qatar, Lebanon, who will be returning to the competition for only the second time after a 19 year absence as well as DPR Korea.

The tournament’s most successful side with four titles, Japan are in Group F and will face Uzbekistan, who have progressed past the group stage for the last four editions of the competition as well as Oman and Turkmenistan.

In an action-packed night graced by some of the biggest names in Asian football, the final draw also introduced a USD$14.8 million total prize money, the unveiling of a stunning new trophy, a cutting-edge Molten match ball and the launch of the tournament’s official mascots – Mansour and Jarrah.

The Zayed Sports City Stadium will also host the final on February 1, 2019 after 28 days of enthralling action with the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium and Al Nahyan Stadium hosting the remaining matches in Abu Dhabi.

Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium will host the matches in Al Ain and Sharjah Stadium in the Emirate of Sharjah. Al Maktoum Stadium and Al Rashid Stadium are the two venues in Dubai.