Gholizadeh to the Polish Leauge

Ali Gholizadeh has been officially transferred from his Belgian club to Lech Poznan in Poland.

Last night Sporting Charleroi Club of Belgium officially confirmed the departure of Iranian player Ali Golizadeh and his joining Ekstraklasa club Lech Poznań, of Poland. Golizadeh joined the Belgian club from Iran’s Saipa team in 2018, and in his five seasons in this team, he scored a total of 23 goals and 26 assists in 143 games (9656 minutes).

The 27-year-old Iranian winger was on loan in the second half of the last season to the Turkish team Kasımpaşa.

Gholizadeh, born in Ardabil, started his senior career at Saipa. He has represented Iran in all age levels until being picked by Carlos Queiroz for Team Melli in which he has now made 30 appearances scoring 4 goals and providing one assist.

This is the first time an Iranian footballer plays at the senior level in Poland. The transfer fee is rumored to be in the region of 1.8 million euros, which makes this Iranian player, the most expensive transfer in the history of the Polish league.

Lech has won the Polish league a total of eight times, most recently in 2022, and is the most popular football club in the Greater Poland region. The Stadion Poznań is the home ground of Lech Poznań, and was one of the venues for the group phase of Euro 2012. It has a league capacity of 43,269 (all seated). The stadium was originally built between 1968 and 1980. 

Gholizadeh loaned to the Turkish side Kasımpaşa

Team Melli midfielder Ali Gholizadeh will end the season in Turkey at Kasımpaşa SK, currently 13th in the Turkish Super Lig championship. He leaves Sporting de Charleroi where he arrived in the summer of 2018. He was loaned until the end of the season with an option to buy.

Gholizadeh seemed to be desperate to leave Belgium due to a personal problem. Gholizadeh, who completed the initial steps of joining Kasımpaşa in the past few days, officially joined this team and signed his contract today.

The plight of Team Melli players in Europe

The spiral dive of Iranian footballers’ fortunes have continued since the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup 2022.

It is safe to say that apart from Mehdi Taremi, in one match against England, none of the Team Melli players displayed any meaningful football or quality in the World Cup to attract interest from European clubs, or even regional Persian Gulf leagues. As if this was bad with no buyers turning up for the Iranian stars, most of the Team Melli players (on the edge or above 30 years old) even household names are struggling in their clubs too,

Perhaps the most noticeable fall from grace and drop in form has to be that of Sardar Azmoun. The days when the central forward of Team Melli was in Russia playing for Zenit, were perhaps the greatest achievement of any Iranian player in history. Not only Azmoun won several titles with the St. Petersburg club, he also achieved the title of top scorer in the Russian league to become only the second Iranian footballer to do so after Alireza Jahanbakhsh in the Netherlands Eredivisie.

Then came that dreadful transfer to the Bundesliga.

No doubt, the injury to Sardar was a great setback at the time when he needed to prove himself at Bayer Leverkusen, however, even after full recovery, Azmoun was far from convincing and lacked the quality to earn himself a place in the starting line up for a middle of the table Bundesliga club. Now, Leverkusen is thinking of cutting their losses by loaning him to other clubs.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh is another player whose winning the top scorer title was a bad omen. His time with Brighton in the Premiere league was best to be forgotten. On his return to the Eredivisie with Feyenoord this time, it was hoped that Jahanbaksh will rediscover himself and find the quality that abandoned him in England. It was not to be as Jahanbakhs steady decline and poor showing made him a semi-permanent bench warmer. Jahanbakhsh never utilized the occasional playing time he was afforded to prove himself. It is safe to say that he will be on the unwanted list of Feyenoord by the end of the season, barring a miracle, that is.

in Charleroi, Ali Gholizadeh was a lively and important player. The winger had enough quality to force the Belgian club to renew his contract for another three years, however, the jinx of drop in form hit Gholizadeh too, this time in Belgium. Recently, it seems that the winger of Team Melli has been facing domestic problems complicating the matter even further.

Royal Charleroi will face the Union team in the framework of the 23rd week of the Belgian league. Charleroi’s 20-man squad was announced for this match, while the name of Iranian winger Ali Gholizadeh was once again missing from the list. In last week’s game against Club Brugge, Gholizadeh was left out by head coach Felice Mazo’s, and this happened for the second week in a row. The Belgium website ‘le Soir claimed that Ali Gholizadeh’s mind is somewhere else and this Iranian player is getting closer and closer to the exit door of the club.

Saman Ghoddos continues to be a fringe player in the Premier League with Brentford, with cameo appearances every now and then. Saeed Ezatollahi plays in the second division of the Danish league, which even the local media hardly covers. Ehsan Hajsafi and Milad Mohammadi play in AEK Athens, The latter has seen action in 10 of the 19 league e matches his club played only six as a starter while Hajsafi fared much better with 12 matches starting and 1 substitute out of 19.

Majid Hosseni’s club Kayserispor is currently ranked 8th in the Turkish Süper Lig. With the domestic league at halfway stage, Hossini has featured in 15 out of 19 matches, displaying acceptable form in most of the matches. He is one of the few successful Iranian players in Europe.

The onus on Mehdi Taremi  to continue being the flag bearer of Iranian footballers. Although far from perfect, Taremi continues displaying quality and scoring valuable goals for his club. He is the only Team Melli player who is making headlines in Europe.

Ali Gholizadeh seeking to leave Royal Charleroi!

Team Melli  Iranian winger Ali Gholizadeh, who joined Royal Charleroi S.C. in Belgium from Saipa Alborz club back in 2018, is currently trying to have a release from his contract from the Belgian first division club.

Gholizadeh, who had extended his contract with Charleroi until 2025 just before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, plans to get his club’s consent for leaving city domestic issues. Gholizadeh has stated personal and family problems with the move. The Team Melli winger has had two bad games in his last matches. He was dropped from the squad against  Club Brugge as he was not even included in the 20-man list of his team in this week’s meeting. Although the Belgian media have announced in the past days that Gholizadeh has offers from the Middle East, the player has informed his club that his wife has returned back to Iran due to medical issues and for this reason, it is necessary for him to terminate his contract with the Belgian side to be beside his ailing wife. On the other hand, it was mentioned that a team from the UAE,  Etihad Kalba of the Emirates under the head coach of Farhad Majidi was one of Gholizadeh’s suitors, but this news has not been confirmed yet.

What are the options of Skocic against South Korea?

Any coach who loses nearly half of his starting players needs to be worried, Skocic is not an exception despite his assertion in the pre-match press conference that Iran will stick to the same game plan and will not resort to a defensive game.

Sadegh Moharrami, Saeid Ezatollahi, Alireza Jahanbaksh, Saman Ghoddod, and Mehdi Taremi, are the five players who started the last match against the UAE but will be missing from the game against South Korea.

Perhaps the two most significant and important players would be Taremi, whose goals have been pushing Iran up in the table and winning the games for Team Melli, and then Jahanbakhsh, an inspiration and a key player whose much-improved game has meant a powerful Iranian side that has not been defeated in the competition. It is not that the rest of the absentees are less important, but the reality is that Jahanbakhsh’s and Taremi’s absence has the biggest impact.

Despite that, Iran’s bench is far from poor and has many players that can fill the gap. Skocic will have to wight his options carefully and play a balanced game against the Koreans. He is right in saying that Iran will not go into a defensive mode, as this will just give the Koreans an advantage, so what are his options?

Expected Line-Up

In the goal, there is very little doubt that Amir Abedzadeh will continue being the number one ahead of Beiranvand.

Amir Abedzadeh

In defense, the absence of Moharrami can be easily covered with several options. Milad Mohammadi and Majid Hosseini are both available and capable despite the fact that it will not be their ideal posts. Mohammadi is a left-back while Hosseini normally plays in the center. A switch of posts is quite possible, however, since the team needs pace against the nifty Koreans, Mohammadi seems better suited for this match.

Milad Mohammadi

Middle of the field, where Team Melli has had good control in the qualifiers, is the most affected with the loss of two key players. For the holding defensive Midfield, Milad Sarlak, is a player with industry and stamina seems to be a good option for a starting place along with Ehsan Hajsafy.  This selection will give Skocic another option as Hajsafy can also operate as the pseudo-right back and switch play at that post. For the offensive side, Nourollahi and Gholizadeh are the most suitable combination. With the scheming of Nourollahi, and the close tight control of Gholizadeh, the forward line will be fed properly in the offensive moves. Vahid Amiri can be employed slightly further up the line or operate as a winger in a 4-4-2 system. Skocic will most probably start him in the midfield role before seeing how the game is progressing.

Milad Sarlak
Ahmad Nourollahi

Upfront, there is little doubt that Sardar Azmoun will take his rightful place as the sole forward, Despite a drop in form after recovering from injury and covid, Azamoun remains the best options upfront in the absence of the talismanic Taremi.

Sardar Azmoun

Much will depend on the progress of the match but our prediction is that Skocic will start with 4-5-1 system that will switch to 4-4-2 in the offensive part.  Other players for consideration are Mehdi Torabi, Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, Karim Ansarifard.





Group A: IR Iran tighten grip with victory over Syria

the-afc.com    – 16.Nov.2021

Amman: A dominant display from the Islamic Republic of Iran at the King Abdullah II Stadium saw them cruise past Syria 3-0 on Matchday Six of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar on Tuesday.
Team Melli went into the game off the back of a five-match unbeaten run, and they cemented their place at the top of Group A with a fifth win in their last six, moving up to 16 points, while Syria was rooted to the foot of the group without a win and remained there after the game.

A touch away from creating a goalscoring opportunity, Syria watched on as Omar Al Soma’s attempted through pass at the edge of the opponent’s box was intercepted and turned into the quickest of counterattacks with Vahid Amiri supplying an exquisite overhead pass for Sardar Azmoun, who broke through between the Syrian center-backs and kept his composure to slot home the opener for IR Iran in the 33rd minute.

Both Amiri and Al Soma were involved in the build-up to another attempt nine minutes later. This time the Iranian winger attempted a cross on from the left with Syria’s number 9 blocking his path and Al Soma’s misfortune continued as he was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box, leading to the visitors being awarded a penalty that Ehsan Hajsafi (pictured below) duly converted to make it 2-0.

A quick Syrian response saw the Qasioun Eagles come within millimeters of instantly halving the deficit as Mahmoud Al Mawas showed nifty feet to trick two Iranian defenders and rifle from just outside the box, but he watched in agony as his effort beat goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh only to cannon off the underside of the crossbar and out.

Ahmad Nourollahi nearly found the back of the net for the second game in a row as he attempted his luck in back-to-back shots just after the 70th minute, but the Shabab Al Ahli midfielder was denied on both occasions by the fingertips of Syrian goalkeeper Khalid Al Haji who made flying saves.

Gholizadeh went from provider to scorer, doing so in style with his last touch of the ball before being replaced by Mehdi Ghayedi in the final minute of the match.

The RSC Charleroi winger beat the offside trap and went on to waltz his way past three Syrian defenders before calmly placing the ball into the bottom corner to confirm the Iranian victory with a third goal.

Iran continues their campaign at home against Iraq at the end of January while Syria’s chase of a first win sees them traveling to third-placed United Arab Emirates next.

Late strikes secure Iran victory against Lebanon

Group A: Late strikes secure IR Iran victory against Lebanon
Saida: Stoppage time goals from Sardar Azmoun and Ahmad Nourollahi saved the Islamic Republic of Iran at Saida International Stadium on Thursday as Dragan Skocic’s side claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over Lebanon in Group A of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar 2022.
Azmoun showed his predatory instincts once again for his country as he cancelled out Soony Saad’s opportunistic first half opener before Nourollahi smashed home a low drive to earn the visitors all three points as the qualification campaign for Qatar 2022 reaches the halfway stage.
It was a remarkable escape for the five-time FIFA World Cup qualifiers, who remain on top of Group A as a result of win that broke the hearts of a Lebanese side that looked set to hold on for a historic victory.
The Iranians move on to 13 points and stay two clear of Korea Republic at the summit of Group A while Lebanon remain on five points from the first five games of the campaign.  The result, though, was a cruel blow for Ivan Hasek’s side, who put on a disciplined defensive performance that frustrated their visitors until deep into injury time.
IR Iran started the game on the front foot and seemed set to dominate when, with less than four minutes on the clock, Alireza Jahanbakhsh saw his shot was deflected wide for a corner after Vahid Amiri had danced through the Lebanese defence.

Goalkeeper Mostafa Matar had to be alert in the 28th minute when the Lebanese midfield stood off Jahanbakhsh as the PSV Eindhoven winger drove into the home half before unleashing a long-range effort that was tipped over the bar.

In the 37th minute, however, the hosts took an unlikely lead. Hasek’s side had made few incursions into the Iranian half but a cross from wide on the right touchline by Abbas Asi caught out a defence that expected the ball to sail out of play.
Instead, the strong wind from behind the Iranian goal held the ball up and Saad, the only player alert to the situation, controlled with a deft first touch before clipping a neat finish over a startled Alireza Beiranvand.
The Lebanese almost doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half when Beiranvand’s mishit clearance fell at the feet of Mohamad Haidar, but his attempt was deflected wide for the home side’s first corner of the game.
That was a rare sight of goal for a Lebanese side that started to drop deeper as the second period wore on.
Azmoun looked set to equalise as the half approached the midway point only for Matar to push the Zenit St Petersburg man’s right-foot shot over the bar while Ali Gholizadeh squandered another opening 12 minutes from time.
Azmoun, though, finally broke through in the first minute of added time with a trademark finish from inside the area as the pressure finally paid off and, four minutes later, Nourollahi smashed his drive home from the edge of the area to cap a remarkable comeback for Skocic’s team.

Team Melli players rating vs Korea Rep.

Alireza BEIRANVAND :[7.8] Saved a last-minute shot and was commanding on aerial balls. Still delays passing the ball and puts himself in awkward positions.Shojaa KHALILZADEH: [7.8] another commanding performance from the central defender. He offsets his lack of pace with his positioning and close marking.
Sadegh MOHARRAMI [6.8] the goal scored was a lapse of concentration in otherwise a good performance.
Hossein KANANI-ZADEGAN [7.6] Again formed a formidable line in the center of defense with good understanding with Khalilzadeh hardly allowing the Koreans any space.
Ahmad NOUROLLAHI [7.4] the burden of dominating the midfield against tough opposition brought the best out of him. Was working hard His cross attempts from right on the line could have been better.
Saeid EZZATOLLAHI: [7.9] Slowly but positively getting better in the team formation. His shot that shaved the upright was delightful. Tackling and passing were much better than in the earlier matches.
Vahid AMIRI [7.0] is industrious and diligent but he lacks the punch and final telling touches.
Ali GHOLIZADEH: [6.5] nearly incognito in the first half. There was no sign of the magic slalom runs on the flanks and mostly content with retreating back to support the defense.
Mehdi TAREMI: [7.4] Taremi is a player that can be frustrating and wasteful at times. He seems to shoot without looking at what is in front of him, like a wall of defenders! His swerving kick that hit the woodwork was spectacular. The understanding he is building with Azmoun is a hopeful sign for Team Melli.
Alireza JAHANBAKHSH [8.1] High rating is due to the goal he scored to save Team Melli. He still needs to apply himself and make a difference on the wings and midfield.
Sardar AZMOUN: [7.9] worked tirelessly up to the end and once again provided an assist in the highest class to Jahanbakhsh for Team Melli equalizer. He tends to be a reckless tackler a player who has not mastered the art of tackling and as such he received his third yellow card of the qualifiers.


Omid NOORAFKAN [6.7]: while undoubtedly has a lot to offer, his reckless tackles and lack of concentration can cost him dearly in the team. Awarded a yellow card 6 minutes after being brought in.


DRAGAN SKOCIC [6.7]: His lack of adventure in the first half and poor substitution give him a low mark. The team lacked direction and energy in the first half and the offenses were carried out on long direct balls where the midfield is bypassed. If such tactics yield results, then no one would complain, but it didn’t. Clearly lacks a ball carrier and a ball distributor in the midfield and that needs a solution. With so much talent on the bench, his substitutions were nothing short of awful.

The team tactics look predictable as it seems there is no variety in play and no second option.

Team Melli qualifies to the next round Of World Cup preliminaries

Iran defeated Iraq 1 -0 in Muharraq Stadium in Bahrain to qualify for the next round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The goal was scored by Sardar Azmoun in the first half from a perfect diagonal pass from Ehsan Hajsafy.

In a match that started with lots of stress on both teams, the first 20 minutes of the match was more like street football with many loose passes, poor tackles, and as expected much theatrics and grass rolling by the Iraqi players.

Team Melli however, was quite strong against the Iraqi midfield who had just one player that could slice the Iranian defenders in Bashar Resan. However, he was tightly controlled to minimize any threats from him which isolated Iraq’s lone forward Muhand Ali, and rendered him ineffective.

The goal scored by Azmoun was a beauty in all sense of the word. A long cross-field pass from Gholizadeh who spotted Hajsafy run on the left flank, the captain controlled the ball, run a few meters, and sent a diagonal immaculate pass to the onrushing Azmoun to slot home. A classical finish by Azmoun.

IN the second half, with Iran still in control, the Iraqi’s run out of steam as they hardly created any serious threat to Beiranvand. ON the other hand, Team Melli had at least 5 scoring chances for scoring all wasted because the shoots were directed at Jalalk Hassan’s body. It started with Azmoun who received a glorious pass from Taremi, similar to the goal against Bahrain. Azmoun shot into the Iraq goalkeeper. Then it was Aligholizadeh’s turn who wiggled past all the Iraq defenders and was facing Jalal Hassan, but his timid shot was gladly collected by the keeper. The true miss of the match must be the last-second ball after some great work by Kaveh Rezaei to give Ghaedi a perfect chance to score from meters away. The substitute missed too and spoon after that the referee whistled for the end of the game.

Although Iraq hardly created any threat, it was like a cesarian win for Team Melli. The starting lineup was far from perfect and a close analysis of the match will show Skocic that there are quite a few things that need revision and improvement on the team.

In Any case, Iran well deserved this win and will join the 11 other qualified teams in the third round.

Iran starts with a comfortable win against Hong Kong

Iran defeated Hong Kong 3-1 in the preliminary rounds of FIFA World Cup 2021 in the match held this afternoon in Muharraq Stadium, Bahrain. Iran’s goals were scored by Ali Gholizadeh (23’), Vahid Amiri (61’), and Karim Ansarifard (84’). Hong Kong’s lone goal was scored by Cheng Siu Kwang (85’).

From the onset and a one-sided match, Team Melli took full control of the field, however, they found it difficult to penetrate the solid-packed Hong Kong defense. The solitary goal scored by Gholizadeh was the result of individual skill rather than a team plan.

While the result was quite satisfactory and puts Iran second in the table two points behind Iraq, it was far from polished. In a worst-case scenario, that performance was concerning. The team was clearly short of group practice and coherence. There was a definite deficiency of understanding between players with many passes going astray. The worst of these misunderstandings was upfront between Azmoun and Taremi. None of the very few passes between them, including some unnecessary back heels, were effective. The most concerning issue however was the two forwards body language. There was a hint of frustration and perhaps lack of serious application evident in their game. They were both rightly substituted midway in the second half.

Tactically speaking, Skocic boys could not find a way through the center of defense. In a system where the other team parks the bus, several other solutions, and plans have to be applied, such as dribbling and short fast passes. The inter-passing of the forwards was too slow and too predictable.

A plethora of corners for Iran failed to produce a single goal against the compact Hong Kong Defense.

After the late substitutions, including the introduction of Torabi, Ghoddos, and Ansarifard, Iran played better and managed to score two more goals in the second half.

There are a lot of areas that Skocic needs to be concerned with in this team. Lack of group practice and hence poor understanding between the players is the biggest concern for the next match, however, the commitment and the mental status of key players remains a peril. Matches are not won on history and reputations. Without 100% commitment, it will be difficult to play against mentally tough teams despite being inferior technically to Team Melli.

Iran will meet Bahrain Next. It will probably be the toughest test and a must-win. Psychological preparation is as important as physical for that encounter.