Tag: AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™

Team Melli loses in thrilling semifinal

Qatar moved within one match of retaining their AFC Asian Cup™ title after emerging 3-2 victors against Iran in their Qatar 2023 semi-final at the Al Thumama Stadium on Wednesday.

Almoez Ali, the 2019 Most Valuable Player and top scorer, struck the winner eight minutes before the end in a thrilling last-four tie which saw the Maroons snap a six-game losing run against Team Melli to set up a final meeting with Jordan.

image content

Both teams made two changes each to their starting lineups, Iran’s Ardeshir Ghalehnoy reinstating Ehsan Hajsafi and Mehdi Taremi while Marquez Lopes gave starts to Yusuf Abdurisag and Homam Ahmed.

It was Team Melli who got off to a spectacular start, Sardar Azmoun capitalising on Qatar’s inability to deal with a throw-in to hook an acrobatic effort past a stranded Meshaal Barsham in the fourth minute.

image content

Qatar, however, did not trail for long, drawing level 13 minutes later with Akram Afif’s cutback setting up Jassem Gaber for a shot that took a deflection off Saeid Ezatohali, looped over Alireza Beiranvand and settled in the back of the net.

Iran continued to dominate possession with Qatar relying on counterattacks, and it almost paid off for the hosts in the 32nd minute when Afif pounced on a loose back pass to surge unchallenged but hit his shot straight at a grateful Beiranvand.

image content

The Al Sadd SC star, however, was not to be denied two minutes before the end of the first half when after receiving a pass from Ahmed Fathy on the left, he took a couple of steps before unleashing a powerful drive for his fifth goal of the tournament.

image content

Iran were quick to assert control when the second half got underway and needed only six minutes to restore parity, a VAR review determining Ezatohali’s shot had hit Fathy’s hands. Jahanbakhsh calmly slotted home from the penalty spot for his second goal of the tournament.  

Qatar’s response was almost immediate, but for the heroics of Beiranvand who pulled off a smart save near his post to deny Abdurisag with Shojae Khalilzadeh then making a goal-line clearance of Pedro Miguel’s header from the subsequent corner.

image content

Having had to rely on counter attacks for glimpses at goal, Qatar burst into life in the 82nd minute when Abdulaziz Hatem laid the ball to an unmarked Ali, who had ample time to pick his spot before slotting home, the goal taking his overall tally to 11 as he moved into second place in the all-time topscorers list.

Thirteen minutes of additional time gave Iran hope, but a surging Afif run was checked by Khalilzadeh, with a VAR review replacing an initial yellow card to red.

Even then, Iran twice came close to drawing level, Jahanbakhsh’s attempt hitting the left upright and Barsham getting his palm to a goalmouth scramble as Qatar held on for victory. 

What is required for Qatar?

Team Melli’s done it again, folks — they’ve blasted their way into the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, just like they pulled off in 2019. And guess what? They’re just one heart-thumping match away from hitting the finals for the first time in a whopping 48 years. Feels like forever since they last made it this far back in 1976, right?

So, mark your calendars for Wednesday, because Iran’s squaring off against the home team, Qatar, in the semis. And yeah, while we did give them a 4-0 drubbing recently in Amman, don’t kid yourself thinking this rematch is in the bag. We’re talking about a fresh showdown at Al Thumama Stadium, and this ain’t gonna be a walk in the park. We’re in for a slugfest that’s gonna be gritty, fierce, and all kinds of intense. And if it comes down to penalties, you better buckle up — it’s gonna be edge-of-your-seat stuff. All that jazz about Iran’s past domination? Throw it out the window, because when that whistle blows, it’s anybody’s game.

 It is a new chapter and a new game.

The heartwarming aspect from inside the camp is that Coach Ghalenoei has acknowledged the significance of psychology within his squad. While the emotional side of the game hasn’t traditionally been a strong point for the Iranian team, their recent victory against Japan showcased the grit, determination, and discipline of Team Melii players. As they face Qatar, who have the home advantage and crowd support, maintaining this mental fortitude will be crucial. In terms of player abilities and skills, Team Melli holds a clear edge. However, the potential pitfall lies in other factors that could affect their performance.

The physical side of the game is also an advantage for Iran, What are the potential fail points, though, are these factors:

  •  Arrogance
  •  Undermining the opposition
  •  Discipline failure.

Although the technical and tactical aspects of the game are important, Ghalenoei has greatly improved his reputation in this tournament by making smart decisions even under pressure. It is hoped that he will continue to follow this strategy and build upon it in the final match. This game will be crucial in terms of mental preparedness and emotional intelligence, as even a single mistake could mean the end of the team’s dreams. Iran has come close to advancing to the finals and winning the title in many AFC Asian Cups, but has always fallen short. However, a great team can create its own luck and emerge victorious despite any setbacks. Considering the fact that this match is being hosted by Qatar, it is likely that the refereeing may be biased towards them. It is important for the players to understand this and avoid making unnecessary protests against the referee. Additionally, the use of VAR technology may also work against Team Melli.

The defenders must be extra careful not to commit fouls in the penalty area. In the last five games, two penalties have been called against Iran, and such statistics are considered risky. Players’ behavior is of utmost importance.
The sweet win against Japan should not overshadow the fact that Team Melli still has problems in several areas. Players need to forget Japan completely and prepare for Qatar. Japan is history, and the result will not guarantee success against Qatar, which is ranked 58, 37 ranks below Iran (ranked 21).

Throughout various matches, we’ve observed Team Melli perform inconsistently, sometimes playing well in the first half and poorly in the second, or vice versa. It’s crucial for Ghaleneoi to not only select the best players but also to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Qatar team and choose players who are better suited to face their style of play, even if they are not necessarily the most skilled players in the squad.

Qatar is expected to employ a similar strategy to Syria, which involves maintaining a compact defense and relying on its fast forwards for quick counterattacks. This tactic was successful for Syria, as they were able to frustrate Iran. It is crucial for all Team Melli players to be aware of these tactics, and patience will be essential in this match. This game presents the best chance for Iran to qualify for the finals of the Asian Cup, and it would be a shame to see this opportunity lost due to careless mistakes that have been made before.

A grand performance by the boys deserving of champion.

The win against a Japanese team, which has dominated Iran for many years including that bitter defeat in Ali Ain in the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019, was a big relief in all senses.

In the best performances of Team Melli in Asian Cup so far, Mohebbi and Jahanbaksh scored, but the credit goes to every single player in the team. Those players stood up to their biggest challenge and came out as winners.

Credit has to go to Aradeshir ‘Amir’ Ghalenoei, the head coach who had to arrange a makeshift team due to the suspension of Taremi, injury to Majid Hosseini and Sadegh Moharrami. In a masterstroke, Ghalenoei played Milad Mohammadi instead of the Captain and much more experienced Ehsan Hajsafi, He supplemented the defensive midfield role by playing Omid Ebrahimi to support Ezatollahi and finally, he used the stronger Mohebbi instead of Ghayedi on the flanks.

It was indeed a gamble that worked very well. The return of Kananizadegan stabilized the central defense. Ramin and Milad Mohammadi on the wings were a source of headaches for the Japanese.

Sardar Azmoun was majestic. Top-notch performance, powerful in attack, visionary, individual skills, and provider of the gem of pass to assist Mohebbi’s goal. Azmoun played one of his best matches for a long time. He should have been awarded that wonderful goal, except for VAR which declared him offside by a millimeter.

Beiranvand was never really tested because of the solid defense protecting him, and the goal he conceded was a touch of fortune for the Japanese. Mohebbi exceeded expectations. His constant runs, hustle, and physicality were marvelous. His finishing from the Azmoun pass was a touch of class.

Even Ezatollahi upgraded his performance in this match.

And what about the warrior Omid Ebrahimi? He was all over the pitch, tackling, shooting, and hustling as if he was 20 years old. Perhaps one of his best games in the long career with Team Melli.

It is difficult to pick up the MVP of this match, but Saman Ghoddos and Sardar Azmoun are the closest to the title. Ghoddos was inspirational. His Vision, tact, skills, and determination were the qualities that a player needed to challenge the top team in Asia. He was never intimidated by the quick and pacey Japanese. Hardly put a foot wrong.

And Finally to Alireza Jahanbaksh. The Captain and the man who was assigned the heavy responsibility to take the penalty kick in the last moments of the game. The psychological pressure was immense not just in front of the capacity crowd but with 88 million Iranians watching.

He took the penalty in a style appropriate for the Captain of the team.

Now, comes the more difficult task, not necessarily technical or tactical but emotional and psychological. The players need to be back on the ground treat the next opponent with respect and play the best football that they have proved they are capable of.

Team Melli to the semi-finals of AFC Asian Cup 2023

In one of the grandest performances of an Iranian team for many years, Team Melli defeated the mighty Japanese 2-1 in regulation time at the Education City Stadium on Saturday.

The quarter-final match was an early final between the Number one and two teams in Asia.

A late Alireza Jahanbakhsh penalty was the difference as Team Melli Iran came from behind to defeat Japan 2-1 and booked their place in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ semi-finals on Saturday.

The two teams had met in the semi-finals of the previous edition, with Japan emerging 3-0 winners and they looked on course to repeat the win when they took the lead before the half-hour mark, but two second-half goals from Mohammad Mohebi and Jahanbakhsh turned things around for the Iranians at Education City Stadium.

image content

Captaining Team Melli on the day in the absence of Ehsan Hajsafi, Jahanbakhsh nearly opened the Iranians’ account in the 13th minute when he picked up Saeid Ezatolahi’s pass down the left flank and curled a shot that nearly caught goalkeeper Zion Suzuki off-guard, but fizzed just over the crossbar.

The first test for Suzuki came after 18 minutes when Hidemasa Morita lost possession on the edge of the Japanese penalty box, allowing Ezatolahli to control the ball and hit with his left, but his shot was too central and the Japanese goalkeeper had no problems in dealing with it.

image content

Morita more than made up for his mistake 10 minutes later. The central midfielder embarked on a solo run to beat three Iranian defenders and arrive into the box before drilling an effort that made its way into the back of the net despite goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand’s best efforts to make the save.

image content

IR Iran’s biggest chance to equalise before the break was a Saman Ghoddos half-volley after he controlled the ball with his chest, but the Brentford midfielder narrowly missed the target.

image content

Nine minutes after the restart, Team Melli were able to restore parity after a long pass from Suzuki was interrupted and the ball fell to Sardar Azmoun who supplied a through pass to Mohebi. The forward was left with just the goalkeeper to beat and coolly slotted into the bottom corner for the equaliser.

image content

IR Iran thought they had completed their comeback in the 64th minute when Azmoun latched onto a long ball, dribbling expertly past two defenders and powering past Suzuki into the near post, but the AS Roma forward had strayed marginally offside and the goal was overruled.

The Japanese goalkeeper was called into action again to stop a spectacular Ezatolahi volley from the edge of the box and confidently produced the required save with just six minutes left to the end of 90.

image content

Deep into four minutes of added time, IR Iran got a golden chance to win the game when Ko Itakura brought Hussein Kanaani down inside the box. Jahanbakhsh stepped up and emphatically dispatched it into the top corner to earn coach Amir Ghalenoei’s side the all-important victory.

Players that need to stand up and be counted.

There is no need to overcomplicate the issues for tomorrow’s match between Team Melli and their strongest opponent yet, Japan.

Simply, Iran has to win by playing their best match of the tournament. To do that, a few players need to elevate their game and need to stand up and be counted.

Against Syria, It should have been far more comfortable than what it was after Team Melli dominated the first half which finished with a 1-0 lead. A rash tackle by Beiranvand led to a penalty and the Syrian equalizer changed everything.

At some point, it looked like Team Melli was content with the draw.

Against Syria and the group matches, many players failed to impress. These players need to double their efforts for Japan’s match to make it to the semi-finals.


The hope of Team Melli fans, the highest Team Melli scorer, the icon who plays alongside the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Dybala in the Italian Serie A. Azmoun has been far from convincing, even his body language is suspect. He needs a major upgrade of his game and a unique performance against Japan to put everyone’s mind at ease. The team particularly needs his aerial power against Japan.


Player whose moves, runs and crosses are essential for the forwards. He has the abilities and the skill but he lacks application and purpose. He is capable enough to be a threat to the Japanese with some self-belief and confidence. Ghalenoei should also encourage him to shoot when the situation is right.


Despite his vision, skills, and experience, he still fell short in previous games. He also needs more fighting spirit the type he displays for his club Brentford. Whatever the problem is, he never seems to complete a 90-minute game. For everyone’s sake, we hope he has the lungs and the stamina to do that against Japan.


The longish injury just before the start of the Asian Cup could be the reason for his slow return back to form. Team Melli badly needs Rezaeian’s runs on the right flank. He is the perfect player for this match to send crosses for Azmoun. An on-form Rezaeian could win Iran the match against a vulnerable Japanese keeper and defense.


Not convincing in his last few matches, however, this should be the match to redeem himself against a tough skillful opposition. He needs to speed up physically and mentally. He has to support both the forwards and the defense. Ezatollahi must form the first line of defense against the Japanese attacks. It is a mighty task, but this match will determine if he is good enough for Team Melli.


Some criticism against him for conceding three goals, most of which he could have prevented, but he was also the savior. Tomorrow, his errors should be minimal. His towering presence will be essential. His position awareness in the box is vital. A good performance by Beiranvand will lead to a Team Melli victory.

Majid Hosseini out of AFC Asian Cup 2023

Team Melli central defender has lost the chance to play the rest of the Asian Cup 2023.

According to news reports, Alireza Shahab, Team Melli physiotherapist, has announced that the defender has a serious injury preventing him from joining the squad. Majid Hosseini, sustained damage to the internal ligament in his ankle. In the past few days, treatment measures were carried out for this player, and fortunately, his condition is much better. He added that functional re-evaluations were done on this player’s leg and based on the results, considering the high level of the competition and to protect the player’s health and professional future, it was decided to continue the treatment and not to involve him in heavy training for the next three weeks.

Ghalenoei “Some of our players have inappropriate behaviour”

In the post-match press conference following Iran’s win against Syria in the round of 16, Team Melli head coach, Amir Ghalenoei, breathed a sigh of relief and admitted it was a difficult win despite his team being superior to the Syrians.

“thank God that we managed to qualify for the quarterfinals. I would like to thank all the players of the national team for their tremendous efforts in this game. Even with one player down, we managed to control the game and even had more chances.”

He added: ” We should have finished this match with a difference of four or five goals. I think it was one of our best games of the competition until we conceded the goal. Unfortunately, some players played in a way that put pressure on the national team. This look down and some inappropriate behavior of some players should be resolved in our team and we should address such negative attitude and this behavior before the next match “.

Iran qualify for the Quarter-Finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2023

Team Melli defeated Syriain a cesarean style after a penalty shootout in Doha, this evening in the last match of Round 16 stage of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023. The match ended 1-1 after extra time.

Team Melli was the much better side during the match and had over 70% of ball possession in the first half. Mehdi Taremi won a penalty in the 34th minute which he converted himself to score his third goal of the tournament.

However, despite the superiority in every department, the forwards wasted many chances to score. Taremi and Azmoun were guilty of some glaring misses. The second half was another. The turning point was right on the hour when a loose ball from the center towards Iran’s goal, was headed by Shoja’a Khalilzadeh right in the path of the Syrian winger Pablo Sabbagh in the 6-yard area. Beiranvand, rushing out to block Sabbagh, looked like he fouled him but the Korean referee called it a goal kick. VAR referee asked the the referee to review the footage after which he reversed his earlier decision and announced a penalty while awarding Beiranvand a yellow card for his reckless tackle.

Omer Khrbin easily dispatched the penalty to make it 1-1.

Team Melli’s profligacy continued after the Syrian equalizing goal as the players lost concentration. Mehdi Taremi was yellow-carded for one of his famous simulations in the Syrian penalty area. That card was to prove quite costly near the end of the match. Three other players got yellow-carded in that period.

The profligacy of Iranian players continued with many chances missed in front of the goal. Then came the final minute of the match during a Syrian counter-attack, where a Syrian winger, dribbled past the defense and was heading towards the goal. Mehdi Taremi grabbed the player and fouled him, giving the Korean referee no choice but to award Taremi the second yellow and subsequently, the Porto player got his marching order. Team Melli played 10 minutes of added time plus the 30 extra minutes with one man down.

Despite the extra man, Syrial hardly created any serious threats on Beiranvand’s goal, while Ansarifard and Mohebbi made life difficult for the Syrian backs and the Keeper in extra time.

In the penalty kicks, Alireza Beiranvand redeemed himself and saved a penalty while all the Iranian players scored theirs.

Iran will meet Japan in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2023.


K. Ansarifard 1 – 0 1 – 1 Pablo Sabbag
R. Rezaeian 2 – 1 2 – 1 Fahd Youssef X
O. Ebrahimi 3 – 1 3 – 2 Aiham Ousou
M. Torabi 4 – 2 4 – 3 Alaa Al Dali
E. Hajisafi 5 – 3

Ghalenoei: “We have no problems in our defense!”

Asian Cup at 19:30 on Wednesday, 11th of Bahman in the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha. 

Amir Ghalenoei, attended a press conference before the game with Syria on Tuesday afternoon and brief the press on the status and conditions of his team for the then proceeded to answer the questions by reporters.

Syria is a team with a great coach

Team Melli’s head coach said “Considering the knowledge we have of the great head coach of the Syrian team and the players of this team, we know that we will have one of the most difficult games ahead of us. They only concede a single goal in the group stage, which shows that they have a good defensive structure. We are playing against a hardworking team. We must run and focus so that we can implement our tactical plans with the least mistakes.

We have learned the necessary lessons 

Emphasizing that his team is ready for the match against Syria, Ghalenoei continued: “Iran’s national team has great players, of course, in order to achieve success, we must have good quality and play with focus. The previous results and behaviors have taught us the necessary lessons. This issue has already shown itself in individual behaviors as well as team issues. Now we have to play with strength and concentration.”

We have changed our attitude 

About Syrian, he said “This team is very good in terms of defensive structure, but we have also made good progress. We have changed our attitude and moved from a defensive structure to attacking football with possession. This shows that we have been able to be effective in this time. In the club team, you can have 150 training sessions per year, but at the national team level, you cannot have more than 20 training sessions. We managed to change the attitude of the national team which was prevailing for several years.”

The goals we we conceded, had nothing to do with the defensive structure

About his team’s defensive problems: “The two goals we conceded in these games had nothing to do with our defensive structure or weakness. They were individual mistakes, which is also a part of football. We have to make people enjoy football. That’s why we have to play offensive in the match against Syria. The characteristic of Iranian football is that it must be present in the defensive third of the opponent and play offensively. We hope the players will implement the tactical orders on the field. have high concentration and minimize individual mistakes so that we can win with an acceptable performance.”

return to the events of the past ; I was wronged

In response to a journalist’s question about the events of his previous coaching in the 2007 Asian Cup, Ghalenoei said: “They brought a head coach in the worst possible situation, the federation did not have a president, football is suspended, two political groups were involved. A head coach comes, doesn’t lose, scores 11 points, and leaves the team without a loss. I wasn’t sad about being abandoned, I was sad about the cruelty that happened and the bad treatment I received.” 

They made a program and wrote 300 articles against me

Ghalenoei continued: “Nowhere in the world would they treat a coach who had taken over the team in such difficult situation treated me. There was a certain group that had a problem with me and they produced a TV program targeting me and wrote 300 articles against me. I was surprised myself. Certain political conditions prevailed in the country.

Do not break the sanctity of people

Ghaleneoi continued :” My request is that you treat people in such a way that we do not break the sanctity of people. I myself have left out many players, rightly or wrongly. But I have tried not to break anyone’s sanctity. I tried to be honest in my behavior. These players are really smart and intelligent and we have to be honest with them.”

We have no problem with the defense line 

Commenting about remarks in his defensive line up, lack of cohesion and defenders mistakes, he said ” Kananizadegan is a good player who will be absent in this match. However, we have good players that we can use. We also have good young players who can gradually join the team. We are not worried about the player who is unable to play because we can solve these problems by moving positions.


Azmoun receives a knock in training

While Team Melli was active yesterday in training sessions, preparing for the upcoming match in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 against Syria, the team’s forward Sardar Azmoun received a slight knock which forced him to leave the practice early and head for treatment room.

While the injury does not look serious, some media reports have already speculated that Azmoun might miss the clash with Syria on Wednesday.

There were no official statement by the team on Azmoun’s condition yet.

Iran will face Qatar in the Round of 16 match at Abdullah Bin Khalifa stadium , Doha , Qatar at 19:00 local time.