Tag: AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019

Iran climbs to 22nd in FIFA World Ranking

Team Melli has reached one of its highest FIFA ranking in history as it achieved the 22nd spot in the world while maintaining the top of AFC Asian ranking.

In the list that was issued today by FIFA, Iran climbed 7 spots from last month to accumulate 1516 points just behind Peru and one spot above Austria.

The credit to this success gores to the results of Team Melli in the AFC Asian Cup where Iran played 6 matches winning 4 , drawing 1 with a single loss.

Japan took the 2nd spot in Asia and 27th in the world with a whopping 23 places climb after reaching the Finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

South Korea also had a very good rise with a 15 places climb to no 38 in the world and 3rd in Asia followed by Australia which lost 1 place to 42 and 4th in Asia.

The greatest climb was for Asian Cup 2019 champion Qatar who leapfrogged number of team and climbs an incredible 38 positions to 55 in the world and fifth in Asia.


AFC Rank FIFA Rank Team Points Previous Points Rank Change
1 22 Iran 1516 1481 7
2 27 Japan 1495 1414 23
3 38 Korea Republic 1451 1405 15
4 42 Australia 1441 1436 -1
5 55 Qatar 1398 1258 38
6 67 United Arab Emirates 1355 1309 12
7 70 Saudi Arabia 1344 1335 -1
8 72 China PR 1339 1317 4
9 80 Iraq 1310 1271 8
10 83 Syria 1286 1322 -9










Qatar stuns Japan to win Asian Cup 2019

In a tournament that has been as much about the geopolitical struggle in the region as much as the football itself, Qatar secured the sweetest of triumphs courtesy of goals from the competition’s top scorer Almoez Ali, Abdelaziz Hatim and Akram Hassan Afif.
To win the title was perhaps unexpected, but to do so in the United Arab Emirates, one of the countries to join with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt in breaking off relations with Qatar in June 2017, is likely to feel even more satisfying for those in Doha.

Almoez Ali's spectacular overhead kick gave Qatar the lead.

While Qatar’s participation in the tournament was ostensibly about football, the talk throughout has often steered away from the sport and instead centered on the political and diplomatic strife in the region.
Qatar’s 4-0 win over the UAE in the semifinal was particularly difficult for the host nation to swallow, but this result is likely to prove even more embarrassing with celebrations likely to last all night in Doha.
The boycott of Qatar, the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the Gulf Arab states in decades, followed allegations that the state was supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region.
Qatar rejected the accusations, labeling them “unjustified” and “baseless.”
Much of the criticism aimed at Qatar comes from its alleged support of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic group considered a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatar supporters cheer during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup final football match between Japan and Qatar.

Qatari citizens were given 14 days to leave Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, while all three countries banned their own citizens from entering Qatar.
Yemen, Mauritius, Mauritania, the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government also joined the boycott.
The air and land blockade imposed on Qatar also meant that the national team had to take a longer route to reach the UAE, flying via Kuwait instead.

Abdelaziz Hatim of Qatar scores his team's second goal against Japan.

But the off-field tensions have not appeared to have had any negative effect on a Qatari side that was ranked 93rd in the world going into the tournament.
Even when the Asian Football Confederation confirmed to CNN that the UAE football association had lodged a formal complaint with the Asian governing body over the eligibility of two of Qatar’s players, a complaint that was dismissed, Qatar seemed unfazed.

Qatar and UAE face off in Asian Cup

Its run to the final of the competition, which included victory over the much-fancied South Korea in the quarterfinal, and UAE in the last four, was remarkable. Under huge pressure and orchestrated anti-Qatari crowd booing their national anthem, the  unwelcome guest demolished the host with a 4 – 0 drubbing.  Each goal scored by Qatar was met by throwing objects, water bottles and obscenities against the celebrating Qatari players.
There were no Qatari citizens in the stadium, as they are not allowed in UAE but the Omani and Iranian fans did the job of support in the stadium instead of the absent Qatari fans.
And yet, against a Japan side, a four-time winner of the competition, it reached a whole new level.
Led by Ali, whose spectacular overhead kick was his ninth goal of the tournament, a new record for the Asian Cup, Qatar doubled its lead on 27 minutes when Hatim fired home.

Japan's forward Takumi Minamino scored in the second half.

Japan fought back in the second half with Takumi Minamino halving the deficit in the 69th minute, the first goal Qatar had conceded in the tournament.
But any hopes Japan had of rescuing the tie were firmly extinguished when Afif kept his cool to score from the penalty spot to settle the tie and start the celebrations.
For Qatar, the host nation of the next World Cup, 2022 cannot come soon enough.

Queiroz and the European style in Asia.

It is not a solid rule that a coach with a strong curriculum vitae and great experience can succeed, make a difference, lead a tactical revolution anywhere in the world, and with any footballing entity he trains.

Alberto Zaccheroni has been strongly established in Asia, where he lifted the AFC Asian Cup title with Japan, and had a reasonable time with UAE, not to mention that he was one of the biggest names in football world coaching beforehand. Yet , he failed to repeat the same success in UAE.

It is also not possible to think that moderately famous coaches with modest CVs and achievement have no keys to success. There simply no specific rule on that.

Zlatko Dalic for example, was not a great coach before coming over to train in the Persian Gulf,  training at club levels and not really to any great success, yet with Croatia , this man achieved a remarkable success.

The simple reality is that , many factors in football has to combine to produce success and lift trophies. Before coaching in Asia Marcello Lippi, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Alberto Zaccheroni and Carlos Queiroz, were household names, but that is no guarantee for winning titles.

The other reality is that the experience of most of the big names coaches is not so good in Asia, especially the European mindsets that have not been able to prove themselves, or have not succeeded in imposing their style on Asian footballers.

The nature of football in Asia and Europe is different in many aspects and that is the major reason for the lack of success of European coaching celebrities. It may be associated with physical weakness, mindsets, discipline, mental abilities and failure to absorb the European tactics, as hinted by veteran Italian Lippi when he talked about the players of China.

The current AFC Asian Cup  2019 wrote the final scenario in the march of Marcello Lippi, Goran Erikson and Carlos Queiroz, while continuing to swing Paolo Pinto with South Korea in spite of the state of anger sweeping the Korean fans  after their exit from the tournament and the loss of the dream they have been looking for 85 Years.

It is interesting to study Queiroz’s case

Carlos Queiroz has been with Team Melli for 8 years. More than any coach in the history of Iran National Team. The man coached Real Madrid, Portugal, UAE and South Africa with two stint as assistant coach to Sir Alex Ferguson in Manchester United. There is no denying his record of excellence. However, if one follows Queiroz’s career, a major lacking is noted in his CV. Queiroz is no title winner and has rarely succeeded in lifting trophies. Regrettably, he has no championship pedigree.

Queiroz succeeded in leading Iran to the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, and that was never achieved before him, it is a huge achievement but the big prize has always been the AFC Asian Cup.

It was a sad end for Queiroz tenure with Team Melli when they he was comprehensively beaten by Japan in the semi-final. Team Melli which has not conceded a single goal from the start of the competition, collapsed and lost by 3 goals. Queiroz , true to his character, blamed the momentary lapse of concentration of his players leading to the first goal for that defeat. The truth is much more complex. It was his failure to change the style of play and his poor reading of the Japanese tactics, that lead to this defeat. But the Portuguese man is adept in deflecting blame on something or somebody.

Ironically, he never talked about winning the title. Perhaps Queiroz never believed in his team’s ability and skill to lay a claim for the title. He did not even consider Iran Team good enough for the semifinal at the beginning naming Korea Japan Australia and China as the real contenders. Surely he knew his players much better than we do and hence he never intimidated the Championship.

His personal trait was quite suspect.

Carlos Queiroz was a man with so many persons created in one. By far the most contentious of Team Melli coaches. Frequently controversial, Creator of many soaps, divisive personality, and a person who will never shy from belittling or  insulting his opponents (the Donald Trump side of him). The man always depicted himself as the one that has the monopoly of knowledge and intelligence when it comes to football and Team Melli in particular (the Jose Mourinho side).

He could also be compassionate, caring and kind when he wanted to be.

The Portuguese, known for his controversial expressions and words, quoted the famous lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s song “The moment has come.”  Before he set course to what looks like a Colombian adventure.

Some will miss him, some are glad to see the back of him. In any case, credit must be given to the man for making a difference in Team Melli. It is doubtful that his legacy will survive, if a local coach is appointed to replace him.  A coach in the class of Queiroz or better might achieve the big success with this generation of Iranian footballers and win something. Queiroz has changed or at least tried to improve many aspects of the organization of Team Melli, his players mentality, discipline, physical training regime among many other positives of his career.

Al Ain: Ahead of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi-final between two unbeaten giants of Asia, the-AFC.com looks at the key facts and history surrounding the eagerly-anticipated clash.

No Taremi for Team Melli

The major team news ahead of the semi-final is the enforced absence of Mehdi Taremi, who will miss Monday’s clash through suspension having collected a second yellow card against China PR.

While card trouble has cost them the Al Gharafa star, who has scored three goals in UAE 2019, the Iranians will welcome back Vahid Amiri, while Yoshinuri Muto returns from suspension for Japan.

Outstanding yellow cards were erased following the quarter-finals, meaning only a red card in Monday’s match will result in a player missing the final.

Carlos Queiroz’s Iran have become one of only three teams in history to go through their first five games at an AFC Asian Cup without conceding a goal, but the amazing record of goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand goes back even further.

The Persepolis shot-stopper has represented his country in 20 competitive matches (including UAE 2019 and FIFA World Cup qualifiers and finals) and conceded only four goals, keeping a remarkable 17 clean sheets, with only Portugal, Spain and Syria finding a way past him.

Japan have claimed a piece of statistical history of their own in the UAE. Hajime Moriyasu’s side are the first ever to win five successive matches by a single-goal winning margin.

Asian powerhouses, divergent histories

The two sides are both Asian football powerhouses, having qualified for the past two FIFA World Cups – and in Japan’s case, every edition since 1998 – but the East Asians have had far more recent success on the continental stage.

While Iran are enjoying the excitement of being 90 minutes away from reaching the AFC Asian Cup final for the first time since 1976, Japan have been champions in four of the last seven editions, and three of the current squad were part of the victorious 2011 team.

Japan have only ever lost once at this stage of the competition, a 3-2 defeat to Saudi Arabia in 2007, which was also the last time the Samurai Blue lost any AFC Asian Cup match outside of penalty shootouts.

Despite making their first appearance in the last four since 2004, Iran have not a lost a single AFC Asian Cup match inside 90 minutes this century, with three of their previous eliminations coming from the penalty spot, and the other twp – both defeats to Korea Republic – suffered in extra time.

Unfamiliar foes

Despite their permanent presence in the latter stages of both the AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup qualifying, Japan and Iran have consistently managed to avoid each other in competition draws.

It has been over a decade since their last competitive fixture, a 2-1 Samurai Blue win in 2005, while their last AFC Asian Cup clash came back in 2004 when the two sides shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw in Group D.




H / A / N Matches W D L Goals + / –
H 3 1 2 0 5 – 4 1
A 3 0 1 2 2 – 4 -2
N 11 5 3 3 12 – 10 2
Total 17 6 6 5 19 – 18 1



Date Competition H / A / N score Stadium Attendance
13.10.2015 Friendly H 1 – 1 Azadi Stadium , Tehran 15,000
17.08.2005 World Cup Qualifier A 1 – 2 Nissan Stadium , Yokohama 65,000
25.03.2005 World Cup Qualifier H 2 – 1 Azadi Stadium, Tehran 120,000
28.07.2004 Asian Cup N 0 – 0 Olympics Sport Centre , Chongqing 52,000
11.08.1999 Friendly A 1 – 1 International Stadium, Yokohama 35,860
16.11.1997 World Cup Qualifier N 2 – 3 Larkin Stadium-Johor Bahru 22,000
18.10.1993 World Cup Qualifier N 2 – 1 Al Khalifa Stadium , Doha 15,000
03.11.1992 Asian Cup A 0 – 1 Big Arch Stadium , Hiroshima 37,000
01.10.1990 Asian Games N 1 – 0 Fengtai Sports Center-Beijing 10,000
20.01.1989 Friendly H 2- 2 Azadi Stadium, Tehran 50,000
04.12.1988 Asian Cup N 0 – 0 Qatar FC Stadium , Doha 4,000
22.09.1986 Asian Games N 2 – 0 Hanbat Stadium, Daejeon 30,000
20.11.1982 Asian Games N 0 – 1 Modeltown Stadium-New Delhi 10,000
18.12.1966 Asian Games N 1 – 0 Tarua Football Stadium-Bangkok 20,000
11.12.1966 Asian Games N 1 – 3 Chulalongkon University Stadium-Bangkok 10,000
08.03.1951 Asian Games N 3 -2 Ambedkar Stadium -New Delhi 30,000
07.03.1951 Asian Games N 0 – 0 Ambedkar Stadium – New Delhi 23,000

Team Melli vs China: players rating and performance review.

It was yet , another majestic display by Team Melli under the guidance of Carlos Queiroz. against China. Team Melli has not only enhanced its reputation as a team that can play modern and beautiful football, it also laid a solid claim and are the Chief contender for the title of AFC Asian Cup 2019.

Yet, neither Queiroz nor any of his players are talking beyond the next match. It is a wise and measured move but it does not mask the fact that from what we have seen in the last two weeks, Iran is the best team that has dominated its opposition and won matches deservedly on merit and perhaps with a class above the rest.

China was well beaten by Team Melli and much credits should go for one player, Sardar Azmoun. The Ruben Kazan forward was on a mission and he succeeded by mixture of strength, skill and determination. The Chinese defense, in truth, had a big role in the defeat of their team with some poor defending and suspect decision making.

China, however, was not a minnow team and did not lack the skills required at such level of football. They are guided by one of the world best and famous coaches in Marcello Lippi. A world Cup winner and a coach who has a trail of trophies behind him. Queiroz, on the other hand, out foxed the master in every department and his team came out a clear winner.

Queiroz has masterfully rotated the team for this tournament. He is the envy of the rest of the teams in UAE because he is spoiled for choices in every department. The absence of Vahid Amiri was not even felt. Hopefully , the same will be true against Japan when Mehdi Taremi will be missing due to his suspension.

Team Melli dominated the center and at times defended deep. their teamwork was a delight to watch. On my occasions, the series of short and fast passes interchanged between the players intimidated the Chinese who were chasing shadows. Despite the fact that most of the goals came either from long balls or route one followed by a Chinese defense blunder, that doe not hide the fact that Iran was the better team in all departments.

To be able to take advantage of the opposition mistakes , you need the quality player to do that. Team Melli had the right quality to punish mistakes by opposition defenders.

If there were some negative points, they were the same ones that were mentioned in other matches too and that is the wastefulness of the forwards, particularly Mehdi Taremi. It is very difficult to criticize a player who scored one goal and provided an assist for another, but Taremi was really appalling when he missed an open goal from a few meters after the ball was given to him on a plate by a perfect header from Kanani-Zadegan. It was a shocking miss!

Overall, it was an emphatic win in the quarter final of the AFC Asian Cup. Now……Bring on Japan.


  • Alireza Beiranvand (7.5): Hardly tested but when required he did his job perfectly.
  • Milad Mohammadi (7.5):  Routine day, defensive work was excellent, however, limited venturing forward to neutralize possible opposition fast breaks.
  • Morteza Pouraliganji (8): Another solid performance. His strong tackling and marking left very little space for the Chinese forwards.
  • Ramin Rezaeian (6.5): Improving with every match despite the fact that Queiroz wise squad rotation is not giving Rezaeian regular starting place.
  • Hossein Kanani-Zadegan (7.5): Only his second start of the tournament, however, he was as good as any of the regular players. When called upon for offensive work on corners, he nearly assisted in a goal but for Taremi’s profligate finishing from close range.
  • Omid Ebrahimi (7.5): Another solid exhibition of sheer power and tenacity. His defensive duties were executed perfectly. Strong and reliable as a holding midfileder. Tireless runner with great stamina.
  • Ashkan Dejagah (8): Continued where he left off. His vision, ability to find players on flanks and timely dribbling made a big impact on the game. Although he did not assist in the goals, his domination of the center of the park was excellent.  
  • Alireza Jahanbaksh (7.5): Continues his recovery and put up a good shift against China. Substituted in the second half.
  • Ehsan Hajsafy (7): Had a quiet game in the midfield zone. Nearly scored from a long range shot from outside the box, but the Chinese keeper saved it with full stretch.
  • Mahdi Taremi (7.5): Scored a goal and provided an assist for the third, however, he is still clumsy and wasteful. A player in his class should not miss an open goal, and that reckless challenge on a Chinese player cost him a yellow card and a suspension. Many rough edges to his game.
  • Sardar Azmoun (10): The best of the lot. A really great performance by Sardar capped with an assist and a goal. He was on turbo mode today running at the Chinese defense and creating havoc. He could have score more goals too.



  1. Saman Ghoddos (7): Proving his quality every time he comes on. He does need to have more playing time to reach the peak of his performance and improve his teamwork.
  2. Roozbeh Cheshmi (7): Had a decent game and stuck to the script.
  3. Karim Ansarifard (8): In his short spell on the field, he scored a beautiful goal which proves that he can be a clinical finisher. He needs to deliver more frequently to dislodge Taremi.


Iran vs. China : Match Preview

Abu Dhabi:

Team Melli head coach Carlos Queiroz has declared that his side are aiming to make the most of their undoubted experience when they face China PR in an eagerly anticipated AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 quarter-final encounter on Thursday.

After beating Oman 2-0 in the Round of 16, the Iranians head into the game having impressively won all four of their games en route to the last eight, and eager to claim what would be the nation’s first Continental crown since 1976.

Team Melli’s last attempt at AFC Asian Cup glory ended at the same stage when they dramatically lost on penalties to Iraq four years ago in Australia.

Although mindful of that result, Queiroz is determined for Iran to put what they have learned between then and now to good use when they face the East Asians

“No two games in football are ever the same, in football it is always a different story,” declared the Portuguese tactician.

“The game versus China is a new game, a new adventure, and one in which we can try to do our absolute best. However, what is key is to remember all the lessons we have learned – both when we have won and when we have lost – and put them to good use.

“This is just like a cup final as they are games which do not have a history, they do not have a past. You cannot lose a game because of history or statistics. This type of cup final match is very different to those we faced in the group stage and I believe the experience my players have will count for something in the game.”

“We are not favourites as I feel there are never favourites in a game like this. We are proud to be here for a game which is the most important game of our lives because it is the next game, and that is always the most crucial for both players and coaches.”

Despite China having impressed at the tournament so far, Queiroz is eager that his charges embrace the challenge rather than be distracted by what will undoubtedly be a formidable test.

“It will be a difficult game against a very tough team,” he said.

“China are a solid and well-prepared team with a great coach. We know a difficult task is in front of us, but we are excited and fully prepared. We are confident that we will play well, as we have the ability, our ambitions and our dreams.

“I want my players to keep it simple as football really is a simple game. It is just 90 minutes of 11 versus 11 and the players need to enjoy the match, enjoy the experience. If we are able to play with freedom and joy, I believe we will do well.”

Marcello Lippi reaction.

Iran, said China head coach Marcello Lippi, are the top team in Asia and there is a reason why the Central Asians has occupied the spot.

“Obviously Iran are one of the top teams in Asia, they played well at the (2018) FIFA World Cup and here too, are physically very strong, organised and have very good quality,” said Lippi at Wednesday’s pre-match press conference.

“From what we know of Iran, we know that we must be tactically perfect against them. There is no room for mistakes for they will punish you every chance they get.

“They are technically and tactically very sound and very good in playing long balls. We must be focused against them,” added Lippi.

 “Iran may be ranked higher than us and I would say they are the favourites but nothing is impossible in football.

“We have been working hard correcting our mistakes and I am confident my players are ready for what will definitely be a very hard match but one which I think we can do well in.”

“We have been improving and will go into the match against Iran confident,” said Lippi.

Lippi said he would decide after training on Wednesday on whether Wu Lei, who is nursing a shoulder injury, would start after a final training session on Wednesday.


Iran has only lost one official match match against China in their long history o competitions and that was in the World Cup Qualifiers in 1989. In Asian Cup , the two team met 6 times with Iran winning 2 while the rest were draws. The biggest win for Team Melli was in 2001 in the Civilizations Tournament when China lost 4-0. The biggest win for China was 2-0 in 1989.

H / A / N Matches W D L Goals + / –
H 6 6 0 0 17 – 4 +13
A 9 2 3 4 8 – 9 -1
N 9 4 4 1 13 – 8 +5
Total 24 12 7 5 38 – 21 +17

Asian Cup Results

Date Stage score Stadium Attendance
15.07.2007 Group C 2 – 2 National Stadium Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur 5,938
03.08.2004  Semi Finals 1 – 1 Workers Stadium , Beijing 50,000
17.12.1988 3rd Place 0 – 0 Hamad bin Khalifa Stadium , Doha 2,000
03.12.1984  Group B 2 – 0 National Stadium – Singapore 18,525
20.09.1980  Group A 2 – 2 Al Arabi Stadium -Kuwait City 10,000
05.06.1976  Semi Final 2 – 0 Aryamehr Stadium, Tehran 60,000


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.”

Team Melli vs Oman: players rating and performance review.

It was a clinical victory for Team Melli against a stubborn Omani team which has no inferiority complex playing against higher ranked and bigger teams.  The overall rating of the team performance was higher than average bordering excellent. A smartly taken goal by Alireza Jahanbakhsh to score his first goal in the tournament and a well taken penalty kick by Ashkan Dejagah sealed the victory for Team Melli in a match they dominated but could not close early enough

We will discover the positives and negatives of the match versus Oman and see if we learned from the shortfalls.

Beiravand’s save was crucial and this covered one deficiency in Team Melli otherwise impeccable defense. The lack of pace in the central defenders in this case Majid Hosseini despite his ability and youthful energy, left him chasing after a faster and more agile forward , tacking him from behind , conceding a penalty and a yellow card for good measure. Such shortfall does not necessarily render Hosseini incapable of playing for Team Melli at international level; it means that the covering work and the defensive tactics should cater for such instances. That is the work of a defensive coordinator or coach. Perhaps by experience, Hosseini would improve and does not indulge in tackles and fouls that risk him being sent off.

Sardar Azmoun is by far is the best forward in Team Melli. His physique, mental strength, skills and heading ability makes Azmoun an excellent asset for any team. He is easily the gem in the crown of Iran, but Sardar has shown his negative side too in Oman game by wasting easy scoring chances.

While Azmoun has the skills and ability to score from the most awkward of positions, he wasted at least 3 glorious ones on Sunday. One chance that only required mildest of shoot, another one which only required accuracy and a header that he would normally slot as easy as ABC. Against Oman he failed to convert any one of them. It was a battle between him and Taremi on how many chances they can squander.

Taremi , perhaps not as resourceful or skillful as Azmoun, had his bad day too. The golden miss was that ball that he could have either passed to Azmoun but instead he opted to lob. It was not a clever decision and the ball ended wide and nowhere near the target.

At the end, it really did not matter as Azmoun & Taremi colleagues have done the job already, but scoring chances will be far and few in matches against the stronger oppositions such as Japan and South Korea. If they are not taken, then it could possibly mean the end of a dream.

Very difficult to pinpoint why the Team Melli attacking pair missed so many chances. It could be anything of nerves, haste, overconfidence, casualness or negligence, whatever it is; it needs to be sorted out. Perhaps it is all in the mind. These two players can play a major role in Team Melli’s quest for the lifting of the title. They need to be sorted out by someone in the coaching staff.


A special mention has to be given to two distinct players. Alireza Beiranvand with that excellent penalty save as early as the first minutes of the game and the grand performance of Ashkan Dejagah who was like the dynamo of the team playing on of his best matches in Team Melli Jersey.

The significance of Beirnavand cannot be over emphasized for many reasons. Falling behind so early in a match not only has a negative psychological effect on the conceding team, while it hypes the other, against Teams like Oman it means parking the bus.

Thankfully, we did not have to experience that agony the moment Beiravand saved Ahmen Kanoo’s penalty.

About the performance of Ashkan Dejagah. The Tractorsazi’s midfielder hardly put a foot wrong, orchestrating the midfield, cleverly distributing the ball,  defending deep , challenging for the ball when required and overall being a good motivator , leader  and visionary. He was tireless and gave a few younger players a lesson in endurance too.

  • Alireza Beiranvand (9): The single player who made difference for his early save. However, he also made a number of excellent stops. His long throws,, are becoming a lethal weapon. Proved beyond any shadow of doubt, that he is the best goalkeepers in Asia, one one of the best in the world.
  • Milad Mohammadi (7.5):  Although his turbo runs on the flanks was not much in evidence today, he was convincing in defense and very little passed him. .
  • Majid Hosseini (4): Single handedly could have cost the team the game. Poor marking and a silly foul resulted in a penalty on the first attack by Oman. Later on he was quite lucky not to be sent off for another bookable offense. A day to forget for the young defender.
  •  Morteza Pouraliganji (8): Although did not face a strong offensive line, he did his job perfectly and dealt with the opposition attackers with ease.
  • Ramin Rezaeian (6): He is still rusty at times and lack of competitive match practice is evident in his game. However, he contributed well towards both attack and defense.
  • Mahdi Taremi (5.5): Wasteful and disappointing for the player who started this campaign so well. He has not scored since netting two against Yemen and needs a confidence booster match against China to keep him going. His most important contribution was winning the penalty which Ashkan Dejagah converted.
  • Omid Ebrahimi (7.5): The always reliable defensive midfield who never fails to impress and always delivers. He had yet another good game and alongside Dejagah, controlled the midfield not allowing the Omanis any chances to pressurize the Iranian defense.
  • Ashkan Dejagah (9): An excellent performance worthy of an Oscar. Has been Iran’s one of the best Team Melli players throughout the tournament. Did not put a foot wrong and ensured superiority in the middle of the park while feeding the flanks for offensive moves. Scored the team’s second goal, netting a crucial penalty in the 41st minute.
  • Alireza Jahanbaksh (7.5): Still not operating on all cylinders after the recovery from injury, however, Queiroz trusted him to start for the second match running, and he delivered. Troubled the opposition time and again and finally scored Team Melli’s first goals after a smart piece of play.
  • Vahid Amiri (7): Had a good game playing just behind the attacker. Always looked to play his teammates in behind the defense.
  • Sardar Azmoun (7): Very strong performance marred by awful wastefulness. He could have easily scored a hat trick. Shot wide from close range when it seemed easier to score than miss. However, the rest of his game, tackling and winning the ball was immaculate.


  1. Saman Ghoddos (6): Came on just before the 80th-minute mark and looked lively during the time he was on the pitch.
  2. Roozbeh Cheshmi (6): Replaced goal-scorer Alireza Jahanbaksh but couldn’t’ replicate his attacking input. However, he had a decent time on the pitch.
  3. Masoud Shojaei (N/A): Came on in the final few minutes as Iran looked to see out the match.

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???