Tag: Ahmad Noorollahei

Another Defeat for Team Melli, qualification in peril.

Team Melli lost its second consecutive game in the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualification rounds when it lost to Iraq 2-1 in the match played on Thursday 14th November in Amman Jordan.

The First half ended 1-1, Iraq starting the scoring through Muhannad Ali in the 11th Minute, While Ahmad Noorallahei equalized in the 28th. As the match was at the dying minutes of the added time, Iraq was awarded a corner which it turned into a goal to the bewilderment of Team Melli players.

The starting line-up for Team Melli was much more reasonable than the previous one against Bahrain. Wilmots finally realized the ineffectiveness of a 3 man forward game plan, leaving the midfield area in tatters and seriously deficient.  The idea of using some experience in the midfield was a good one to start with, hence the selection of Masoud Shojaei. However, the veteran 35 years old Tractor player is hardly up to the task. His inclusion in the lineup not only did not add any value for the team, on the contrary, his constant errors, but poor passing and couple of fouls committed resulted in his dismal 10 minutes before time leaving the team in a risky position. Iraq scored when Iran was one man short.

The Team Captain’s action after being given the second yellow card and the subsequent red card were distasteful and unworthy of Team Melli Captain.

Shojaei, who was booed several times in Azadi more than 10 years ago, because of his poor performances, has hardly had a good game for Team Melli and this one is another for the archives. This could probably see the end of his career with Iran’s Team Melli.

The highly tense match started with Iraq pushing forward and pressing the Iranian players on the ball. In this first quarter that pressing worked as they scored the opener.

As the match went on, Iran finally got a grip on the game and started playing, however, and surprisingly, there were too many long balls from the back to the forward line which was all dealt with quite easily by the Iraqi solid defence. There was no solid control of the midfield that Iraq had 5 players. Sardar hardly saw a decent ball from the midfield while Mehdi Taremi was nowhere to be seen in the match.

The equalizer scored by Iran was not a result of some nicely played passing game but due to the persistent and the brilliance of Mohammed Mohebbi who chased what looked like the Iraqi defender ball just near the corner. He robbed the ball, dribbled past a couple of his markers and sent it back to Noorollahei who wiggled his way past two defenders and shot a venomous ball into the far side of the goal.

It was a goal created and scored by two individual brilliant plays.

The match went on to be a scrappy affair with far too many interruptions with both side players trying to cheat and deceive the referee to gains advantage. There is far too many of this happening in the Asian Football. The Sri Lankan referee was cool enough to deal with them but he could and should have given at least two yellow cards to Iraqi players for play-acting. The referee’s decisions, however, were non-factors in the result.

This result puts Iran qualification to the World Cup in a real precarious position. Neither the result nor the performance was good enough to give the fans confidence in the team. It is a far cry from Queiroz’ days at the same stage of the qualification for World Cup 2018. It is obvious that Wilmots’ way is still not being understood or implemented.  He is still learning how to deal with this new challenge. His absence from Iran and limited time to train and coach the team does not help either and it is starting to show.