Tag: Ali Daei

Azmoun has an amazing scoring record.

Sardar Azmoun scored against Palestine to reach the 50-goal mark equaling Karim Bagheri. As Azmoun has a higher Goal Per Match GPM, he stands second only to the legendary Ali Daei whose record will not be broken anytime soon.

Azmoun is only 29 years old and has a good 5-6 years left for him to reach a scoring figure close to Daei. He has been playing for a decade for Team Melli and narrowly missed selection for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014. However, he has been present in every season since, and this year he celebrates 10 years with an amazing record of 50 goals.

Azmoun’s records show that he played an average of 7.6 matches for Team Melli every year and scored 5 goals in these 7.6 matches an average of .66 GPM. A terrific record only bettered by the legendary Ali Daei whose Goals Per Match is 0.74

Astonishingly, Sardar has yet to play in the domestic league, although he was registered with Sepahan at the start of his career. As he was playing abroad all his career, he missed many chances to play for Team Melli.



1ALI DAEI113.74N


Only 8 players in the history of Team Melli have managed to pass the 100 caps club, the latest of them is Karim Ansarifard. The list is headed by Javas Nekounam followed by Daei with Ehsan Hajsafy lurking in third place with 15 matches short of Daei. The 33-year-old Team Melli Captain has a good chance of surpassing both Daei and Nekounam as Team Melli is involved in the FIFA World Cup 2026 preliminaries with games coming thick and fast.

1Javad NEKOUNAM 157
2Ali DAEI 151
3Ehsan HAJSAFI 136
4Mohammad Ali KARIMI 130
5Jalal HOSSEINI 114
7Andranik TEYMOURIAN 101

Iran-Palestine: Match preview

  • 24 hours to go for Team Melli’s first Match.
    * Palestine will not be easy prey.
    * Ghalenoei “We will play attacking football”

Iran and Palestine will start their campaign in the 18th AFC Asian Cup 2023 at Education City Stadium at 20:30 local time. In the pre-match Press Conference, both managers followed the standard narratives and claims about the importance of the match, with Ghalenoei considering it like a Final for Team Melli!

What is certain though, is Palestine will be playing a solid defensive game, perhaps like parking a double-decker in front of their goalkeeper. The responsibility is on Ghalenoei to form a plan to break this tactic which is now being followed by many weaker teams in front of more powerful opposition.

This gameplan by Palestine, with an eye on quick counterattacks on Iran’s goal might spring a surprise on the final result. The more the Palestinian team can hold on, the more difficult is the task for Iran and that includes the psychological pressure and fan’s reaction to a deadlock.

On the other hand, an early goal by Iran will make Team Melli play at a comfortable pace and dictate the match. On paper, Iran is a much stronger team in every sense. They have the experience, the pedigree, the quality, and have been playing some eye-catching football recently. They are undefeated in two years since losing to the USA in the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Palestine has not enjoyed much success at the international level and has been winless since they defeated Bahrain 2-1 in March 2023. Palestine played eight matches since and has failed to register a win, losing 5 times and drawing 3. In those 8 matches, they scored one goal only while failing to score in seven. This team has a big problem up front. On the other hand, they have a solid defense and one that has yet to crash against the might of Australia, Uzbekistan, and Saudi Arabia.

So, expecting a goal ruch from Azmoun and Taremi, is easier said than done, hence the importance of an early goal.

Interestingly, they have two professional players who play in the Israel league. They have not featured as regulars as many other professionals occupy the starting lineup.

First time
This will be the first meeting between Iran and Palestine in the AFC Asian Cup; the last time Team Melli faced a team for the first time in the competition was on 12 January 2019 v Vietnam – scoring a 2-0 win.

Win target
Palestine is yet to register a victory in the AFC Asian Cup, having gone winless (D2 L4) in the 2015 and 2019 editions; this is their third appearance in the competition.

Iran are unbeaten in each of their last 20 group stage games (W15 D5) in the AFC Asian Cup; in fact, the last time they lost the opening game in the competition was a 1-2 loss to Iraq in 1996, having won the last six such games since then on the bounce. 

Terrific duo
No player recorded more touches in the opposition box in 2019 than Iran’s duo of Sardar Azmoun (42) and Mehdi Taremi (33); Palestine’s best player in this category in the previous edition was Mahmoud Wadi with six such touches. 

Sardar Azmoun has scored 49 goals for Team Melli. He needs just one more goal to equal Karim Bagheri who has 50 goals and is only second to the legendary Ali Daei in the list of the highest scorers of Team Melli.

Possible sanctions against athletes.

Iranian athletes could face punishment if they don’t participate in annual Quds Day marches across the country later this month, according to IranWire, in what would be yet another example of state interference in sports.

The Islamic Republic’s authorities are organizing the rallies on the last Friday of the Islamic month of Ramadan, which this year falls on April 14, in solidarity with the Palestinians.

A directive seen by IranWire and signed by Karamali Iraji, the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Sports and Youth, says that athletes are required to attend the rallies, citing the “noble cause of…the Palestinian resistance,” a resolution of the Coordination Council for Islamic Propagation and instructions by the Tehran Governorate.

The directive was agreed upon last week during a meeting between Minister of Sports and Youth Hamid Sajjadi and his deputies.

The source at the Ministry of Sports and Youth who provided the document to IranWire said that copies were sent to all provincial sports boards across the country.

The ministry is considering possible incentives for athletes who will attend the state-sanctioned rallies and punishment for those who won’t, the source said.

Iranian sports has become increasingly politicized. Most sports bodies had been taken over by political or security-military organizations, with former members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps holding key positions in clubs and federations. Many footballers were sanctioned or punished for their support of the protests including Ali Karimi, Aldi Daei, Vouria Ghafouri.

Earlier this year, the European Union imposed sanctions on Sajjadi for pressuring Iranian athletes into silence, including climber Elnaz Rekabi who competed in South Korea without mandatory headscarves amid widespread anti-government protests inside Iran.

Last month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it had “expressed serious concerns over the past few months vis-à-vis the situation of the Iranian athletes and the Olympic community as a whole in the current context of the upheavals and demonstrations in the country.”

The IOC has urged the Iranian National Olympic Committee to “take appropriate action with the highest authorities to protect the athletes and members of the Olympic community from a humanitarian perspective.”

The statement warned that the IOC Executive Board “reserves the right to take any appropriate action” relating to the participation of the Iranian NOC and athletes in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, “depending on the developments in this situation.”

Hossein Faraki seems to be the lead candidate for Team Melli job.

With the withdrawal of Amir Ghalenoei and Mehdi Tarter, the exclusion of Yahya Golmohammadi from the initial list, and the outright rejection of the offer to coach Team Melli by Ali Daei, Hossein Faraki seems to be the leading candidate for the job.

Notwithstanding the two other candidates (Majidi & Nekounam) both of whom have discipline and stability issues in addition to lack of proper international experience required for the job, Faraki seems to tick all the boxes of FFIRI and most importantly to the authorities, being politically acceptable and loyal.

 In an interview with ISNA, Hossein Faraki acknowledged that his name was amongst several for the post of Team Melli head coach and said ” I was offered the chance for the job in a call made by FFIRI leadership. They sent me an invitation and asked me for a roadmap and plan for participating in the AFC Asian Cup 2023. Of course, there are other options and they specified a deadline for me to respond.”

He continued: “Anyway, it is the national team and it is where I played for many years and had coaching experience too. In the last one or two years, I have had proposals from several clubs, which I have not yet decided on. One of the reasons was the Corona issue, and after that, I realized that the place I want to go to, must have the right conditions and atmosphere to conduct my job. Maybe some clubs have problems and lack facilities, and I also wanted to be in a place where the conditions are available so that I can have an impact. I would like to do something for the national team if I can,”

The former coach of the national team added: “If I feel that something can be done, I will think about it. Many people would love to see me take the post and would love for this to happen to me and for me to get what I deserve. There are different opinions in this regard. Some agree and some disagree, but everyone is entitled to his opinions are it should be respected “

” So far I have not sent my program but I am in the process and will soon submit it to the federation. It will be sent by tomorrow and whatever the outcome will be, it will happen.”

“I don’t like to talk about speculation,” Farraki said about the selection of an Iranian or foreign coach for Team Melli. “Anyway, the decision maker is the Football Federation. Many of our coaches have potential and the desire of every coach is to lead the national team. We also need to motivate the Iranian coach. Foreign coaches have their own values, but under the current circumstances, it is better to give the Iranians the opportunity.

Faraki was born in Tehran on 22nd March 1957 and started his playing career with PAS Tehran from 1976 to 1992), He played for Team Melli  (22 caps/11 goals for Iran), and his coaching career included Esteghlal Tehran, Sepahan Isfahan, Persepolis Tehran

Hossein Faraki played for Team Melli in the first Iranian qualification for the World Cup in 1978. He also won third place in the AFC Asian Cup 1980 in Kuwait with the national team. Faraki served as assistant coach to Branko Ivankovic for three years. Faraki also has the experience of being the head coach of Iran’s Omid national team in 2004. He led Foolad Khuzestan to the League Title in 2012-2013. He also led the Sepahan Isfahan team to the title in 2013-2014, so within 2 years, he has led two different clubs to the championship titles in the Iran Premier Football League.

Iranian domestic coaches.

Since the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup 2022, Team Melli has had no coach or program. It is in fact, disbanded.

Mehdi Taj hinted recently that the FFIRI will be looking much closer at domestic coaches for Team Melli citing difficulty in wages payment and bank transfers.

The problem is, there are NO suitable, competent Iranian coaches who can effectively lead Team Melli.

Iranian candidates for Team Melli

Of the domestic coaches’ names, there are several that can be considered but are not necessarily capable at this time to coach at the international level. Beginning with Ali Daei and Amir Ghalenoei. They are the only two who have led Team Melli and are qualified to do so again. Daei however is in the bad book of the regime, and he himself has no interest whatsoever to coach the team again. He has also been away from football for some time. Ghalenoei, on the other hand, is active and coaching a flourishing club in Gol Gohar. Ghalenoei however, has never been popular with the establishment, and a person whose demeanors and constant finger-pointing at others for his own failures and defeats, have ranked low in popularity and competence.

On the newer generations, we have Yayha Golmohammadi, Javad Nekounam, and Alireza Mansourian. The latter is out of work since he parted company with Sanat Naft Abadan, while his coaching career is not considered successful in general. Nekounam, former Team Melli captain and record holder of most games played for Team Melli, currently is the head coach of Foolad Khuzestan. Nekounam, attitude, antics, and general lack of leadership skills, controversial, ill-spoken, and on the technical side, uncertified coach, he cannot possibly be a serious candidate.

That leaves, Yayha Golmohammadi as the most serious candidate. The current coach of Persepolis has a successful CV which includes two Persian Gulf Pro League titles in the 2019–20 and 2020–21 seasons with Persepolis. Political dissent and possible reluctance by the club to release him might create difficulties in getting the job at the helm of Team Melli.

Apart from these five aforementioned, no other coach comes even close to making the mark.

But national coaches are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Lack of domestic Iranian coaching talents.

Jalal Chiragpour, the former head coach of Iran’s Team Melli, rejected the idea of an Iranian coach or Queiroz or Bronco to lead Iran’s national football team. In justification,  Chiragpour said: “We want a coach who can educate the players and teach them the style and mentality of modern football; Not a coach who does not allow anyone to see the training sessions, play friendly matches behind closed doors, and not allow journalists to attend the training. Team Melli team needs a “teacher-coach”.

With less than two months left until the next FIFA day (20–28 March 2023) the window of the national team’s games, the FFFIR continues to proceed slowly and calmly and seems in no hurry to choose a head coach. Some coaches and experts believe that the federation can choose a temporary coach (Caretaker) for Nowrooz at least and finally, after the end of the current season of club competitions, can make its final decision.

Jalal Chiragpour said “I have to say a few things about the Iranian coach. If we had an Iranian coach who had received coaching degrees from outside Iran, we could count on him. In this case, we would say that this Iranian coach is more educated than FFIRI’s Education Committee.

Referring to the state of the football federation’s Education Committee, whose task is to promote local Iranian coaches,  Chiragpour said: “Iran’s Education Committee is 30 years behind the modern science of the world football. Our resources are 30 years behind the world. We still teach handouts from 1974 and earlier. That’s why I say that no Iranian coach can become the head coach of the national team because they all got their coaching certificate from an outdated, archaic training institution. If FFIRI had sent a number of coaches to five or six countries like Germany, Portugal, Brazil, England, Spain, or France five or ten years ago and paid for their training, we would have a cadre of competent and certifies coaches. Our football would have changed for the better, but because they have not done anything to train the future coaches, and the football federation does not care much for coaching education, our domestic football has fallen behind even smaller neighbors.”

Teacher-coach vs. Manager coach

Chiragpour said: a “Teacher coach” is the type of coach whose work ethic is like a teacher, educator, or instructor. “Manager-coach” is  manages the team in a professional and commercial way. He deals with ready made, skilled players who need or require only little guidance. If he does not have quality players, he buys talent and brings it to his team. Queiroz is a “Manager-coach”,

Queiroz was a manager and ordered to summon such and such a player some of them with dual nationality. Or he would find talent in Manchester. No one knew why, but he made good choices about talent. The technical committee or the board of the football federation should specify whether they want a “teacher-coach” or “manager coach”?

“Team Melli requires a Teacher Coach”  Cheraghpour stated. “the foreign coach of the national team should teach Iranian footballers. We want someone to teach these players skill sets and tactics that they are not exposed to at club levels.

Mehdi Taj “National coach is better for Team Melli”

Mehdi Taj, in a TV show, said that a national coach is much better than a foreign import to lead Team Melli.

This represents a U-turn and a change of heart from a person who has always advocated the recruitment of foreign coaches for Team Melli.

Taj admitted that the federation’s limited financial resources are a big obstacle against recruiting a foreigner. He emphasized the FIFA rule regarding the contract between coaches and football federation members of FIFA, in which a two months arrear and no payment by the federation not only gives the coach the right to unilaterally cancel the contract but also claim the rest of the contract period dues. It is believed that Marc Wilmots used this rule against FFIRI and managed to win the case. The remainder of the contract wages amounted to nearly 2 million Euros. Incidentally, it was Mehdi Taj who recruited Wilmots, and it was also Taj who failed with his administration to honor the contract with the Belgian coach by not paying him for over two months citing a lack of cash flow.

“We are considering domestic and foreign coaches,” the head of the football federation said about the final option for the national team: “There are two different views, one side has reservations about recruiting a domestic coach, while the other side fundamentally believes in them ( local coaches). We have always been proud of our domestic coaches. Mohajerani, Parveen, and Daei have worked hard for the nation, and recently, Nekounam and other coaches have also been there.”

“In the foreign dimension, for example, Queiroz has helped us a lot. We are under sanctions and are unable to pay a foreign coach,” Taj said, referring to international banking sanctions. If we have cash here, it is not practical to transfer it abroad. One of the defendants in the Wilmots case is me and other members of the board of directors. We were accused because we could not pay him. Calderon, Branco, and Stramaccioni are other examples who left and filed court cases against us because they didn’t get their money.”

It is clear that the next coach of Team Melli is going to be domestic. That cannot be good news for Team Melli fans as many believe that Iran’s domestic league has failed to produce any quality coach who is capable of leading the nation at the international level.

Iran football legend Ali Daei’s family barred from leaving country after anti-government protests

Daei is one of several Iranian celebrities who have come out in support of the protests ignited by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September.

Ali Daei, the prominent former football player in Iran who has expressed support for anti-government protests says his wife and daughter were prevented from leaving the country on Monday after their plane made an unscheduled stopover en route to Dubai.

Daei, who had his own passport briefly confiscated after returning to the country earlier this year, said his wife and daughter departed from the capital, Tehran, legally before the flight made an unannounced stop on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, where they were questioned by authorities.

The flight-tracking website Flightradar24 showed Mahan Air Flight W563 being diverted to Kish Island before traveling onward to Dubai a couple of hours later.

There was no comment from the airline or Iranian authorities.

Daei is one of several Iranian celebrities who have come out in support of the protests ignited by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September. The Kurdish woman died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code.

The protests rapidly spread across the country and escalated into calls for the overthrow of the theocracy established after the 1979 revolution, making it one of the biggest challenges to clerical rule in over four decades.

At least 507 protesters have been killed and more than 18,500 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not released figures for those killed or arrested.

Before his passport was confiscated, Daei, a top international goal-scorer, and former Iranian team captain and head coach had urged the government on social media to “solve the problems of the Iranian people rather than using repression, violence, and arrests.” He later said it was returned to him.

The leaderless protesters, rallying under the slogan “women, life, freedom,” say they are fed up after decades of social and political repression by a clerical establishment they view as corrupt and out of touch. Iranian authorities have blamed the unrest on foreign adversaries like the U.S. and Israel.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said in a statement Sunday that it had arrested seven individuals in the southeastern city of Kerman with a “direct link” to Britain who were involved in the protests. It said some members of the network had dual nationality, without elaborating.

Iran has arrested a number of Iranians with dual nationality in recent years and convicted them of state security offenses in closed-door trials. Rights groups say such detainees are denied due process and accuse Iran of using them as bargaining chips with the West, something Iranian officials deny. Iranian courts which are fully controlled by the regime extremist headed by Ali Khamenei issue death sentences in a kangaroo-like court where there is little or no right defense or independent observations.

Ali Daei in the news again

Team Melli legend and former Head Coach is being mentioned repeatedly in the media following the recent goal-scoring spree of Lionel Messi in the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Messi with five goals scored is on par with Kylian Mbappe, the French prodigy as the best scorer of the tournament. The Paris Saint Germain teammates will meet on the final on Sunday for their respective countries Argentina and France. With those 5 goals, Messi is fast advancing to overtake Ali Daei in second place among the World’s Top international scorers.

Messi is 13 goals short of Ali Daei’s tally and 22 short of Ronaldo, the record holder. With Messi having a few more years of his best football still in the tank, he is well-placed to overtake Daei and Ronaldo.

Rank Player Country Goals Caps Ratio First cap Last cap
1 Cristiano Ronaldo  Portugal 118 196 0.6 20 August 2003 10 December 2022
2 Ali Daei  Iran 109 148 0.74 6 June 1993 21 June 2006
3 Lionel Messi  Argentina 96 171 0.56 17 August 2005 13 December 2022
4 Mokhtar Dahari  Malaysia 89 142 0.62 5 June 1972 19 May 1985
5 Ferenc Puskás  Hungary 84 85 0.99 20 August 1945 14 October 1956
Sunil Chhetri  India 84 131 0.64 12 June 2005 27 September 2022
7 Ali Mabkhout  United Arab Emirates 80 109 0.73 15 November 2009 16 November 2022
8 Godfrey Chitalu  Zambia 79 111 0.71 29 June 1968 12 December 1980
9 Hussein Saeed  Iraq 78 137 0.57 5 September 1976 3 March 1990
Robert Lewandowski  Poland 78 138 0.57 10 September 2008 4 December 2022
11 Pelé  Brazil 77 92 0.84 7 July 1957 18 July 1971
Neymar 77 124 0.62 10 August 2010 9 December 2022

Ali Daei turns down Team Melli head coach post for the umpteen time.

After the drama of sacking Dragan Skocic and the theatrics of the FFIRI management, Ali Daei once again categorically refused to head coach Team Melli under current management and the shabby situation of the team.

Ali Daei, Javad Nekounam, and Amir Ghalenoui are the front runners to replace the sacked Team Melli coach to lead the team in difficult conditions in the 2022 World Cup, Among the candidates, Ali Daei was identified as the most suitable option.

However, the former head coach of Team Melli, who has been giving negative answers to all domestic and foreign offers for several years, was once again approached by the Football Federation, and once again he turned it down with an emphatic “No”.
One of the football federation officials confirmed Daei’s refusal in a conversation with Mehr reporter. “Daei has not agreed to replace Skocic in the current situation and has asked the officials of the football federation to consider this issue as finished and not to think about his presence on the bench of the national team.” Therefore, Ali Daei’s presence as the head coach of Iran’s national team in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is ruled out, and the football federation must look at its other internal options.

Daei seems to have learned his lesson and was wise enough to distance himself from this management and federation. The situation for Team Melli is critical and the chance of making a challenge for the two top spots in the group against the likes of England, Wales, and USA is becoming even more difficult now than before.

Daei knows very well that the lack of resources and leadership in Iran’s football plus the political interference from the government will make his task nearly impossible. The strong character of Daei and his fearless no-nonsense attitude will be impossible for the FFIRI and the government too.

Despite the pressure from a number of Team Melli players, the Ministry of Sports, and several members of parliament to reinstate Carlos Queiroz, the Football Federation strongly opposed his return to the bench of Team Melli. So that the head coach of the Iranian national team in the 2014 and 2018 World Cups has little chance to score a hat trick with minimal effort and lead Iran for the third time running in 2022.
The results of the Iranian national volleyball team with Behrouz Atai, the Iranian head coach of this team, caused the football federation to consider and maneuver the proposal of an Iranian coach who has the ability to gather the chaotic atmosphere the Team created by two partizan groups of players. The poor preparation and lack of international preparation matches on FIFA day, also frustrated many players as discontent is rife.

It seems that Mirshad Majdi, after consulting with some FFIRI Board Members has opted for a domestic option. Ghalenoui, like Daei, is also wise enough and cannot seriously entertain the idea of coaching Team Melli.

Javad Nekounam is the only other option. He lacks experience at the international level and has only been a coach for a few years. Despite the risks, it is believed that he will very well accept the challenge and hope for the best. The risk, however, is that a bad performance by Team Melli in Qatar or failure to qualify for the next round will ruin his reputiation career in coaching far too early in his career. He will also be the subject of the wrath of the fans.

How Iran fared against the opponents ?

Iran’s records against the teams of the group are quite healthy and that is quite a boost for Team Melli players ahead of the first game on November, 21st.

Team Melli played four times against possible and actual opponents. England remains the only team that has not faced Iran before. Team Melli managed 2 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss to the teams in the preliminary group.

By far the biggest and most famous result against the opponents here was in Lyon on 21st June 1998 when Iran beat USA 2-1 in one of the most anticipated matches of the 1998 World Cup. Estili and Mahdavikia were the heroes of the day scoring for Iran. But 20 years before that in Argentina, when the world cup had only 16 elite participationg teams, Team Melli gained a famous draw with overhyped Scotland or the Tartan Army coached by Ally McCloud who was promising the Scotland team will return home lifting the World Cup before a ball was even kicked. The Scottish team was a star spangle group of the best player in the English First Division, the predecessor of the Premiere League.

Team Melli also played a single match against Ukraine in a friendly international which at the time was making a name for itself in European football, in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Ali Daei scored the only goal of the match.

Iran’s loss to Wales came in a friendly match in the Araymehr Stadium and was part of the team’s preparation for the Argentine 1978 World Cup.

USA asked Iranian for a friendly in the states in 2000 hoping to get revenge for the loss in Lyon two years before. This match was played in the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California in front of 50,000 fans. Mahdi Mahdavikia was once again the scourge of the American team when he scored early in the sixth minute of the match. US team equalized through Armas in the second half, the match ending in a 1-1 draw with the USA not being able to exact revenge.

So, for all intent and purposes, Team Melli has no psychological disadvantage in preparing for the World Cup. Such head-to-head results should boost Iran’s hopes of qualifying from the group stages for the first time in history.

Head2Head Table

England 0 0 0 0 0
USA 2 1 1 0 1
Wales 1 0 0 1 -1
Scotland 1 0 1 0 1
Ukraine 1 1 0 0 1