Tag: AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020

Déjà vu. Omid Team eliminated!

Omid Team has been eliminated from the group stages of the AFC Asian U23 Championship and with it the eternal dream of qualification to the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

In the final do and die match against winless China, Omid Team struggled badly and wasted chance after chance to score goals until the 85th minute when a dubious penalty call by the referee allowed Noorafkan to score from the spot-kick. It was one goal too little and too late despite Uzbekistan losing their match against South Korea 2-1.

Uzbekistan qualified as the second of the group with 4 points, same as Iran but with a better goal difference of one goal.

In a match of wasted chances, especially the one that profligate Mehdi Ghaedi wasted while the goal and the net was at his mercy, wide open with the Chinese keeper stranded and nowhere near covering his goal. Ghaedi got the loose ball and with all the time and options available to him, he decides to head the ball into the empty net but he missed by a big margin!

How cruel and how heartbreaking!

This was the final nail in the coffin as the likes of Sayyadmanish, Shojaei, Mehdikhani kept shooting blanks and wasting chance after chance against a Chinese team that had nothing to play for but pride.

At the end of the day, this Omid Team did not deserve to qualify with these players and coaches.  The passive, back-foot approach, the helter-skelter style employed by Hamid Estili once again looked out of date against opponents who embody many of the principles associated with modern football. Estili, never an accomplished coach in the first place had a disadvantage with a bunch of individual players, who did not truly understand the concept teamwork and tactical (not that there was much of that in evidence) discipline, hence that combination turned into what the experts expected, failure of Team Omid.

It was Déjà vu.

That eerie feeling that the fans and media personnel have lived through the situation on numerous spells. The same lame excuses, the same justifications, the same “We were unlucky” and the same “We will do better next time, inshallah!”

44 years since the last Olympics, and by the next cycle, it will be 48 years wait. At this rate, we will be passing the half-century of years since Iran has made the Olympics Games football competition, a feat that nations who are supposedly below Iran in World Football Ranking have achieved many times.

Ultimately, in this current messy organizational structure and management deficiencies in Iran’s football at all levels, fans have to get used to failures after failures. You reap what you sow, nothing more nothing less. Deep-rooted changes have to be implemented and cleansing is done by competent professionals rather than devout loyalists. Success is achieved only by skillful, learned, experienced professional who base their work on systems and processes of modern football management.

Far too many gaps in Estili’s game plan.

There were no surprises in the performance of Omid Team under Hamid Estili against Uzbekistan yesterday.  Even with such a statement, many fans were hoping that the famous players with household names in Omid Team will make a big impact and cover at least part of the team’s weaknesses and gaps.

Players like Omid Noorafkan, Allahyar Sayyadmanish, Mohammad Mohebi are already full internationals who have played and scored for Team Melli while the likes of Mahdi Ghaedi and Reza Shekari are considered valuable players with considerable ability to improve. The former has already registered 8 goals in the Persian Gulf Pro League.

However, except for Omid Noorafkan who is being utilized in defense hence depriving the team of his wonderful vision and Pirlo-like passing, the rest of them were disappointing. Ghaedi huffed and puffed like always but his delivery and final touch remains suspect when his team really requires every effort.

The feeblest performance of the so-called stars was Shekari and Sayyadmanish up in the forward line. Not coordination, no proper communication, little or no significant passing, no awareness of each other position and individualist showmanship that was a big waste for Omid Team.

A smart seasoned coach would have immediately figured out that this combination upfront is not working and would have acted accordingly, but Estili for reasons beyond comprehension failed to notice that.

The Midfield lacked a strong leader such as Noorafkan, who was in the central defensive position. Mohebi was quite disappointing against the Uzbeks despite having a very good season with his team. He missed an open goal and a chance for his team to take the lead.

Omid team never looked like a coherent team with a strategy. Against Korea, we expect the same old tactics, or lack of it, and emphasis on individual performance rather than teamwork. Not that a victory is not possible, but with a year of disappointing performances by Omid Team, it is highly unlikely that Hamid Estili will find a magic wand to fix the things against the powerful and organized Koreans.

Realistically and no matter how high our hopes and expectations are, the chances of a tactically deficient Omid Team qualifying to the next round are on the balance. A win or even a draw against the Koreans will still keep the hopes alive. A defeat will almost mean the end of the road and those abundant and unceasing promises that this team is good enough to make it to Tokyo after 44 years of absence.

Omid Team arrives in Thailand

Iran’s Omid Team arrived in Thailand to start preparing for the upcoming AFC U23 Championship 2020. The squad flew to Bangkok then transferred to a domestic flight to fly south to Songkhla near the border with Malaysia.

Hamid Estili has made sure that the players have enough time to acclimatize before the competition starts on the 9th Jan against Uzbekistan.

Iran is unquestionably in the most difficult group facing the powerful Koreans, the defending Champion Uzbekistan, and the aspiring Chinese team. In simple term, there is no easy matches for Omid team in Thailand. A win in the first match will be the perfect result but by no means an assurance to qualify for the next round.

This championship is also the qualifying rounds for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The top 3 teams from this tournament will make it to Tokyo.

Tough draw for Iran in AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020

Bangkok: Iran’s Omid Team has been drawn in what must be the toughest group of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020.
Joining Iran are the defending champions Uzbekistan, Korea Republic and China in Group C. The Thailand 2020 Finals draw was held in Bangkok on Thursday. Iran had no representation in the draw ceremony.
Uzbekistan will open their defence of the AFC U23 Championship title in Group C with a match against Iran’s Omid Team. It promises to be an exciting group as all three of Uzbekistan’s challengers will be aiming to win the title for the first time.

The fourth edition of the Championship will be played across three cities – Bangkok, Buriram and Songkhla – with the tournament kicking off on January 8, and the final to be played on January 26. Besides Continental glory, 15 of the 16 teams will also be competing for places in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the top three sides will join hosts Japan as Asia’s representatives next July.

Hosts Thailand was drawn in Group A and they will have 2013 champions Iraq, Australia and debutants Bahrain to contend with.
Qatar, third in 2018, 2016 champions Japan, Saudi Arabia – runners-up in 2013, and Syria are in an exciting looking Group B.

Vietnam, runners-up in 2018, have DPR Korea, Jordan – third in 2013 – and United Arab Emirates for the company in Group D.
Should Japan make the last four stage, the other three semi-finalists will be assured of their places in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Under newbie coach Farhad Majidi, Iran’s U23 had a disappointing showing in the preparation matches two of which were against the same Uzbekistan team which they will meet on 9th January 2020. With the powerful South Koreans, who are a title contenders in their own right, waiting next for Iran, it is going a steep mountain to climb for Iran. Realistically, Iran chances look dim for qualification but would be more than happy to be in the top two teams. China, the other team of the group have been performing well qualifying to the finals with ease after beating Laos 5-0 and Philipines 8-0 while drawing with host Malaysia 2-2. The Chinese have two friendly matches arranged in South America in Late November with Colombia in Bucaramanga and then against Peru in Lima.

The star-studded Korean team who are the Gold Medal holders of the Asian Games 2018 may include Tottenham Hotspurs star Son Heung-min who is 27 now. However upfront they have Hamburger SV forward Hwang Hee-chan and Italian Club Verona Lee Seung-woo in the squad. It is not clear if these players will be released for this championship.



Group C match fixtures

9 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla   Uzbekistan Iran
9 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla South Korea China PR
12 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla Iran South Korea
12 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla China PR Uzbekistan
15 January 2020 Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani Uzbekistan South Korea
15 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla China PR Iran