Tag: AFC Asian Cup 2019

A critical look at Team Melli.

Team Melli got the result it wanted against the UAE and put further pressure on Korea Rep for the race at the top of the group. With qualification assured, it was an excellent opportunity for Dragan Skocic to introduce changes in the lineup, but to the great disappointment of many, he stuck with the same players except for those enforced changes such as through suspensions or Covid.

If the mission of Skocic was just to finish the match with three points and minimum damage, then he achieved that objective, but it was far from pretty. A countless number of passes went astray, the finishing in front of the goal was abysmal, final balls lacking accuracy, misunderstanding between players and lack the sense of urgency and accuracy. Players were guilty of some unprofessional works at this level. Team Melli must look beyond the final two games of the group, although the one against Korea is a good test, and start looking forward to how would they like to play and compete.

To be recognized and accepted, Team Melli has a long way to go in a relatively limited time period.

Player’s selections and Opportunities

Skocic pick for the match was frustrating. If Team Melli has any aspiration to stand and be counted amongst the elite in Qatar, then Skocic must think positively and bravely to build a team of 23 highly-rated players and not just stick with a skeleton of 11 to 13 fixed starters. That was Queiroz regime style and despite the limited success of Queiroz’s team, it failed to go beyond the group stages in Russia and did not win the title in the Asian Cup 2019.

To give players confidence, Skocic must offer them the chance to play and perform. The bench players must be as good as the main players. Bench players must be integrated and there is no better way of such integration except actually giving them the minutes at any opportunity.

Skočić missed that opportunity against the UAE. Perhaps fear of losing was the catalyst and that is understandable. It is not a crime for a coach to be result-oriented, however, there is a time when the future integration and strength of the team must take priority.

Shaky individual Performances

Non-performing players or those who are consistently playing sub-standard games must realize that they would lose their place in the lineup. For example, both Ghoddos and Gholizadeh were poor against Iraq, yet they both kept their places against UAE. To create the spirit of competition amongst the players, Skocic could have dropped them for this match to send a signal to everyone else that there is no such thing as a permanent place in the team, sub-standard performances have consequences, there are alternative options who can fill the gap and the team is more important than the interest of the individuals.

That methodology has proven to work, as the problem with Taremi proved not long ago.

Most professional coaches religiously adhere to this mindset, Skocic must follow too. If a player is selected to play, he must deliver.

If a player continues playing weakly and yet he is still picked up for matches, there will be a sense of injustice and disappointment in the team the consequences of which is unimaginable.

Players must feel that bad performances will have consequences and hence give it 100% effort. Players in Team Melli must understand that there are at least two if not more players that can take their place if they do not deliver. This is missing in Skocic team.

Professional players of this generation will develop a false sense of security and believe in their own vitalness. Only a good professional coach can change that.

Disciplinary acts.

Then there was another disturbing part. The disciplinary record of Team Melli is absolutely dismal. There are far too many yellow and red cards awarded to them. It is an indication of lack of guile, professionalism, and most probably negligence.  There are certain Team Melli players that one feels could be dismissed anytime due to a wild or mistimed tackle, pure negligence, and lack of maturity. leading to suspensions and negative effects on the team. Whatever it takes, Skocic and his coaching staff must strengthen the mental agility and emotional control of the players. The World Cup is too valuable of a place for the Team to lose players through suspensions because of loss of concentration.

Game Plan

While there were some nice touches and inter-passing, despite the lack of continuity, the game plan against the UAE was not clear specifically at the forward end. There were few crosses on the flanks while Iran has the best players who could cross. There was also a lack of aerial firepower up front where the like of Taremi can excel, the direction and control of the midfield were lost mainly due to the failure of the Team Melli midfielders in keeping the ball and timely distribution. Game plans normally do not cater for players’ dismissal and that could have been a reason for the bewilderment of the team, however, even with one player short, Team Melli still managed to miss at least two certain goals!

Creativity and flexibility.

Team Melli is struggling to break down compact defense teams. Even if that is successfully done, the rate of conversion against the chances created is poor. There has been an embarrassing number of easy scoring chances missed

The problems stem from the heart of midfield. The sight of Team Melli probing from side to side, with a painful lack of incision, has left some critics lacking in confidence in the team. Flanks that feed the tall attackers seem to go missing in action. Apart from Jahanbakhsh, no other midfield player seems to have the vision and the creativity that is required at the top-level competition. The generations of Khodadad Aziz, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Ali Karimi, Nekounam which then continued with Mojtaba Jabbari, Ando Teymourian, and Ashkan Dejagah have served the Team well through the years, now such creativity is simply lacking.

The root cause is the standard of the domestic league in Iran which is feeble and has failed to produce the quality required at the international level. The solution at Skocic’s hand. Somehow he must address this complicated issue.

Another Semi-Final heartbreak for Queiroz!

Carlos Quieroz experienced yet another heartbreak in the semi-finals of the FIFA Arab Cup when his team, Egypt conceded an injury-time goal to lose 1-0 to Tunisia.

Queiroz lead Team Melli to two World Cups in Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018. He was also the head coach in the two editions of AFC Asian Cups 2015 & 2019 and was on the brink of making the final of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in UAE before losing heavily to Japan in his last match as the head coach of Team Melli. Queiroz and Iran were denied the trophy that eluded team Melli for over 40 years. On the other hand, this loss to Tunisia in Doha was yet another setback for the veteran coach who does not seem to make it to the finals nor win trophies.

The match which was refereed by Iranian Alireza Faghani was a sell-out.

Faghani whistled for a penalty in the second half for Tunisia, however, after he reviewed the VAR, he changed his decision and canceled the penalty.

Faghani, who was given the tough task of refereeing this highly sensitive and volatile match, succeeded in controlling the match while awarding a yellow card for Carlos Queiroz for continuous encroachments. The Portuguese coach of Egypt continued his bickering even after the yellow card which saw the no-nonsense Faghani return back to Queiroz to give him the last warning pointing to the stand, a place that Queiroz would have ended up if he did not shut his mouth.

Carlos Queiroz will now have the tough task of taking Egypt to the World Cup 2022.

Payam Niazmand to Portuguese club Portimonense.

Seyed Payam Niazmand, 26-year-old goalkeeper, who is playing for Sepahan Esfahan will join the Portuguese club Portimonense until June 2024, with a 10 million euros termination clause.

In Portugal, several clubs competed for the signature of Team Melli goalkeeper, with some notable foreign teams in the race, however, Payam Niazmand opted for the Algarve team, which has managed to secure his signature.

The Iranian international who played the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, represented the teams of Paykan FC and Sepahan, before arriving at Portimonense.

The club issued a statement confirming the arrival of Niazmand with a welcome message that said “the administration of Portimonense Futebol SAD, thanks Payam Niazmand for having faith in the project that was presented to him and wishes him the greatest personal and sporting successes in defending the alvinegra goal.”

Niazmand joins Ali Alipour in Portimonense.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh status in Brighton in jeopardy.

For the second match in a row, Alireza Jahanbakhsh did not make the 18 man squad for Brighton & Hove Albion match against  West Ham. Jahanbakhsh was left out of the team for the first match of the new Premier League season away to Watford which Brighton won 3-0, and then he was again omitted from the squad for the home game against West Ham which ended in a draw 1-1.

It seems that the Seagulls’ coach Graham Potter has little belief in the ability of the Team Melli winger to produce the goods in the Premier League. After a difficult season last year marred by injury and absence from Brighton team for the AFC Asian Cup, Jahanbakhash failed to sparkle despite his record signing from Alkmaar. The top scorer of the Dutch League failed to score a single goal for Brighton.

Despite his failure to score, the former Brighton coach had a lot of confidence in Jahanbakhsh as’s abilities and skill as he was on the top of Houghton’s pecking order upfront.  However, Houghton was using Jahanbakhash in the role of a wingback rather than a forward. The Iranian had to be available to defend when the team was under attack. That was one of the reasons, but certainly not THE reason, for his lack of scoring. Statistics of last season shows that Jahanbakhsh was not getting much goal scoring opportunity but was used more as a provider on the flanks.

Whatever the case was for last season disappointing performance, Jahanbakhsh’s chances to be part of the Brighton lineup seems to be quite slim and him lasting in the club, to be in doubt. The Transfer window in Europe is still open until 2nd September. One way out of this situation is for Brighton to seek a buyer for Jahanbakhsh. Rumours of the Iranian returning back to the Eredivisie with his former club started a couple of weeks back but it seems to have died down quite quickly.

Jahanbakhsh himself remains hopeful to return back to form to gain the confidence of Graham Potter. With the fine performance of the current squad, the competition for places in the team is quite tough. Jahanbakhsh really needs to work extra hard to convince the boss of his value else his future in Brighton and the premier league is in jeopardy

Saman Ghoddos to English Championship side Brentford

Date: 6th August 2019 at 7:49pm
Written by: 

EXCLUSIVE by Pete O’Rourke

Brentford has agreed on a deal to sign Amiens attacker Saman Ghoddos, Football Insider understands.

Brentford have lined up a deal for the Iranian international to replace Neal Maupay following his departure to Brighton earlier this week.

A source at the Beeds has told Football Insider that Ghoddos, who played for Iran at the 2018 World Cup and AFC Asian Cup 2019, is now set for talks and a medical at Griffin Park as Brentford look to finalise the move before Thursday’s transfer deadline.

Ghoddos can play in an attacking midfield role or anywhere across the frontline and Brentford have been tracking him for some time.

The Bees’ Championship rivals Fulham and Queens Park Rangers tried to sign Ghoddos before he joined Amiens last summer from Swedish club Ostersunds.

Ghoddos scored four goals and provided four assists in 27 games in his debut season in Ligue 1 last season, while he has 18 caps under his belt for his country.

In other Brentford news, it can be REVEALED that the club are plotting a £3million move to sign a forward from another Championship side.

Team Melli and Omid Team will set up joint Training camp.

Iran’s Team Melli and Omid Team will be setting training camps at the same time and end up playing a friendly match after the conclusion of the camp at the national teams’ Training camp in Tehran.

From 10th to the 15th of July, there will be a busy period for the national football federation teams in the training camps. The objective of this Team Melli camp includes further familiarization by Marc Wilmots with the team members.  Wilmots will be unable to call upon the foreign-based players of Team Melli and has to contend with the domestic league players.

However, in order for the Belgian coach to gain more knowledge of his players and to make changes as he deems necessary, this will be a good opportunity for him to discover further talents and proceed on his changes by allowing younger players the chance to perform.

Wilmots hopes to have a more solid idea for the team formation for the month of September and to organize a game on the official FIFA day. In the last two friendlies,  Wilmots used a mix of AFC Asian Cup and World Cup players in both the Syria and South Korean games. He is working on the team’s weaknesses, including defending, and said he was looking to fix the team gradually. Nevertheless, Wilmots said he is pleased with his team performance in the last two matches, his first at the helm of Iran, and in his recent interview, he said that he is glad that former national team coach, Carlos Queiroz.he had left a good legacy for him.

On the other ground, there will be also another national team training. Iran’s Omid Team Olympics hopefuls will set up camp at the same time sharing the facilities with the senior team.  Farhad Majidi , who has already set up a training camp in June, is looking to further improve the team for the much tougher assignment in Thailand in the qualifiers of the Olympics.

He will be focused on technical and psychological issues of the squad, which will mainly consist of previous players from the Omid team’s past camps. Majidi will continue to invite new players for the camp, especially since there will be tough competition for places and players need to show their ability to be part of the Omid Team, Majidi said.

The young head coach of the Omid team who is hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games is looking forward to the match with the senior team. Wilmots and Majidi teams will play a competitive friendly at the end of the five-day camps, which is likely to be played on No. 2 ground that has a natural grass surface.

It is also likely that Pejman Montazeri, who has just announced his retirement from international football, will be honored and appreciated by his teammates in the same camp. Montazeri played for Team Melli for about 10 years and has represented Iran in the World Cup and Asian Cup.

China 0 Iran 3: Azmoun punishes the Chinese defense.

Team Melli produced an impeccable performance in Abu Dhabi today to defeat China in the quarter finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019. It was a real statement of intent by Queiroz’s men as Iran progressed into the last four with this commanding 3-0 quarter-final win over China PR.

Sardar Azmoun, who was the man of the match, scored one and set up another in the first half. While substitute striker, Karim Ansarifard sealed the win with late strike in the second half to set up a clash of giants against Japan in the semi-final next Monday.

Marcello Lippi has been tipped to bring his time as China coach to an end after this tournament and his side crashed out with a whimper, all three goals being scored following defensive lapses.

Azmoun celebrates

China failed to heed the warning after surviving an early scare when Azmoun’s header was cleared in front of goal by Zheng Zhi, the striker capitalizing after Feng Xiaoting let a long ball bounce to tee up Taremi for a simple finish –  his third goal in as many matches at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.

Taremi was denied a strong penalty appeal for a trip by Zhang Chengdong and missed a sitter from three yards, but Iran extended their lead in the 31st minute.

Azmoun profited from yet more sloppy defending by racing in behind and rounding Yan Junling, the goal allowed to stand following a brief VAR check for a potential foul on Liu Yiming.

Lippi has not been afraid to tinker with his formation during matches but his reversion to a midfield diamond did not have the desired effect.

Iran sealed the three-goal win late on through Ansarifard, who made the most of a gift from Shi Ke to slot home from Taremi’s through ball five minutes after replacing Azmoun.

While the result spells the end of the road for the Chinese, Iran remains in with a chance of claiming their first Asian Cup crown since 1976. Based on the dominant manner in which the Iranians claimed the victory against China, they might even be heading into that tie at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium as favorites.

Immaculate display of attacking prowess

It did not take them long to assert their authority on Thursday and they threatened as early as the fourth minute, when Alireza Jahanbakhsh played a teasing first-time ball across the face of goal that was just too far for Azmoun to reach.

Two minutes later, China had an opening of their own with Hao Junmin breaking through down the right and playing in a cross that would have spelt a certain goal for Wu Lei, only for Ramin Rezaeian to halt the threat with an amazing recovery challenge.

Azmoun threatened again in the 10th minute when he was left unmarked at the back post at a corner and would have opened the scoring with a free header if not for Zheng Zhi being alert to the danger and clearing just before the line, but there was to be no denying Iran eight minutes after.

There looked to be no real danger when the Iranian defence played a long ball over the top but Feng Xiaoting’s hesitation saw him recklessly lose possession to Azmoun, who did well to unselfishly square a pass to hand Taremi with a simple finish.

The Al Gharafa star should have doubled his and his side’s tally in the 26th minute from a similar position when he was left with a sitter after being picked out by Hossein Kanaanizadegan’s flick-on from Ashkan Dejagah’s freekick, only to fire wide with the entire goal gaping.

By now, China’s 2006 FIFA World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi had seen enough and was motivated to make two substitutions even before the half-hour mark, but it still seemed only a matter of time before the Iranians’ supremacy reaped a second goal.

That duly arrived a minute after the half-hour mark and – this time – it was Liu Yiming who was the culprit despite being the favourite to make an interception, allowing Azmoun to nip in and win possession and casually take the ball past Yan before slotting into the unguarded net.

With a two-goal advantage now in their grasp, Team Melli were never in danger relinquishing control of the contest in the second half, and even had further chances to add to their tally which would have certainly but the result beyond doubt, although they were never really threatened by a lacklusture Chinese outfit.

And, in the first minute of injury-time, they finally added the gloss on an emphatic victory after profiting from another China error; Shi Ke’s poor touch handing possession straight to Taremi, who immediately threaded a ball through for substitute Ansarifard to latch onto and finish into the bottom corner.


IRAN: Alireza Beiranvand, Ramin Rezaeian, Morteza Pouraliganji, Hossein Kanaanizadegan, Milad Mohammadi, Omid Ebrahimi, Ehsan Hajsafi, Ashkan Dejagah (Rouzbeh Cheshmi 76’), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Saman Ghoddos 68’), Mehdi Taremi, Sardar Azmoun (Karim Ansarifard 86’).


CHINA PR: Yan Junling, Liu Yiming, Feng Xiaoting (Xiao Zhi 28’), Shi Ke, Zhang Chengdong, Hao Junmin, Zheng Zhi, Wu Xi (Zhao Xuri 25’), Liu Yang, Wu Lei (Yu Dabao 75’), Gao Lin.

Newcastle Eyeing Milad Mohammadi.

In some big transfer news coming to the AFC Asian Cup, Iran defender Milad Mohammadi has suddenly emerged as a shock candidate to join Premier League side Newcastle United, per Daily Mail.

The full back has played a single game in this edition of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 however he has impressed with his display in the tournament, and has put some big clubs on notice thanks to his defensive and attacking prowess.

Newcastle United are suffering injury problems in defence following the blow suffered by Paul Dummett, meaning they need to head to the transfer window for cheap options.

In Mohammadi, they could have that cheap alternative that may just get them through the remainder of the Premier League season and help them stay up.

The 25-year-old currently plies his trade at Akhmat Grozny, but has been offered to Newcastle in order to end the Magpies’ and Rafael Benitez’s woes.
It is not clear how the Russian Club is willing to release Mohammadi and on what term, especially that they are in a good position in the League table. Akhmat Grozny is currently in the eighth position with 23 points after 17 rounds. Milad Mohammadi has played 16 matches and scored 1 goal for the Russian Premier league side.

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

Jahanbakhsh doubtful for Yemen match.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh who has been suffering from a hamstring injury is doubtful for the first game of Team Melli in the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

The Brighton & Hove Albion winger has been sidelined for almost three weeks now. Although he has resumed training recently and even managed to join Team Melli squad for the Training Camp in Doha, his main focus was on light work and physical strength exercises. Jahanbakhsh did not play against Palestine or Qatar in the last two test matches before the tournament.

For Queiroz, Jahanbakhsh’s absence from the game against Yemen and even against Vietnam in the next match, will not be a major concern as Team Melli has enough strength in-depth to win both matches without Jahanbakhsh. However, starting from the match against Iraq and the next round matches, his presence is significant. The only other concern will be if Jahanbakhsh shows rusty signs because of  injury and lack of playing competitive football for some time.

Iran will meet Yemen in Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi in the first match of Group D of the AFC Asian Cup. In the other group match Vietnam will take on Iraq.

Jahanbakhsh is currently the most expensive Iranian player. A lot is expected from him after what was a disappointing World Cup. Along with Sardar Azmoun, he is the major hope of Team Melli in the Asian Cup.