Tag: Alireza Biranvand

Iran comes out of AFC Annual Awards empty handed

The Asian Football PConfederation Annual Award ceremony was held without any achievement for Iranian football as the Iranian representatives returned home empty-handed.

The top Asian football awards event was held in Hong Kong yesterday (Monday) and various prizes were awarded to top players. Various countries, including Japan and East Asia in general, which have been leading the West for many years, have won numerous awards, but the most prestigious award  (Asian Player of the Year) was given to the Al Sadd and National Qatari Team player, Akram Afif.

Al-Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez received the award on behalf of Afif who is involved in the Gulf Cup football tournament currently held in Doha, Qatar.

Although Iran had candidates in five different categories, the Iranians failed to win any awards. Alireza Biranvand (Asian Footballer of the Year nominee), Sardar Azmoun (Asian Legionnaire of the Year), Mehdi Javid (Asian Footballer of the Year), Katayoun Khosrowyar (Asian Football Coach of the Year) and the Iranian Football Federation (Best Inspirational Federation) were Iran’s representatives. The day before the ceremony, however, Mehdi Taj and the director of the Ministry of Sport’s Information Center had revealed that Beiranvand has not won the award! Despite Iran’s lack of success and absence from the honours awards, an Iranian, Alireza Faghani, currently working and residing in Australia, was selected as Asia’s best referee in 2019. The fact is that award was the result of his individual genius and talent, rather than a proper system and mechanism of producing quality referees like himself (Faghani).

According to the famous French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Recent national teams and club football failures such as World Cup qualifying defeats against Bahrain and Iraq, failure of Iranian clubs in AFC Champions League teams, Futsal Club failure, loss of AFC top rankings, not to mention various other failures at age-group football and so on were another stern reminder of lack a predetermined programming, quality, planning and long term systematic strategy in Iran.

The achievement of the existing system, or lack of it to be precise, and the poor mechanism has resulted in the failure to win the men’s and women’s titles of the year, as well as the Asian men’s and women’s coach of the year, which is highly regarded in Asian football but Iran has not won the title for many years. Although Alireza Biranvand is one of Asia’s top male candidates and Katayoun Khosraviar is one of Asia’s top female candidates and Alireza Faghani’s selection as Asia’s best referee is a delight and Iranian football is proud of the presence of such figures, their success is due to their innate talent, individual brilliance, rather than being products of a  Collaborative attitude and system. Their personal efforts are hardly derived from the organized, progressive and systematic football regime.

Alongside the growth and promotion of East Asian football, the Qataris have shown by their impressive achievements in the individual and team sectors that success is not just a matter of genius and talent, but the planning and existence of competent and capable managers who can lead to the achievement of plans and goals. Iran football managers are found wanting in this department and have failed time and again to meet the expectations of the passionate fans.

Recent events and successive failures are another important warnings for Iranian football, proving that the successive qualification for the  FIFA World Cup twice in a row, the AFC Champions League final appearance by Persepolis in 2018, and even the winning AFC footballer of the year in 2004 were all the  outcomes and efforts of talented coaches and footballers, and has nothing to do with management systems or development efforts of Iranian managers or the Ministry of Sports.

It is no secret that besides Iran’s weak Asian football lobby for prizes, the current dilemma is the incompetence of sheer lack of skills by the executives of the football federation incapable of properly executing programs that were practically implemented in countries that are way behind Iran’s capabilities and riches.  Other countries, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, became West Asia’s flagship solo and team achievements.

With the present incompetent football management at the three most important levels (Clubs, Football federation and the Ministry of Sports) any success will be in isolation, any award-winning will be individual brilliance, any titles will be miracles of those poor passionate Iranian fans that have waited for over 4 decades.

The present Iranian football system will NOT produce winners and champions. However, the bleakest of the news is the fact that there is no prospect in sight of a White Knight on horseback who can save Iran’s football. There are plenty of critics armed with rhetorics, but no strong leader to take control of the situation and develop it like a real professional.

Branko ignores Queiroz comments.

The Persepolis football coach says there is no information available to the Iranian National Football team, and every 11 of his players deserve to be invited to this team.

The Persepolis head coach commented on Queiroz and his return to Iran, as well as the statements he has made that there is a place for wither me (Queiroz) or him (Branko) in Iran “ I have no comment on his statement. I do not know at the moment who is the head coach of Team Melli. I do not know when the national team is continuing or assembling and the federation have not informed us about the details of the training camp. I also do not want to say anything until I get information. Ask him yourself, because he has said what he said. Of course, Iran has become larger since he said that !”.

Branko spoke on the presence of Biranvand in Team Melli said: “I trust Biranvand. He could tell me I am going to Team Melli camp and instead he goes to Shamal (north), I still trust him (laughter). But as far as I know, it is a practise everywhere in the world, and according to FIFA rules,  two weeks before the start of the training camp, the federation shall send a letter with details/duration of the training camp and formally invite the players. Of course, this is a preliminary list and a few days before the actual start of the camp, they send the original letter of invitation. Same as they did for Bashar-Rasan, it was done by his country’s federation who informed us how many days the player is wanted by his national team, because the player is obliged to introduce himself back to his club after 24 hours after the completion of the training camp. If the player comes from a different continent, that time is 48 hours to introduce himself back to the club. This is the FIFA rule.”

“I do not know which players have been invited because I do have not received anything.” he said about the Team Melli’s list and the invitation of a player from Persepolis. “So I cannot comment. I am very happy to be with my players and I cannot comment on this. I do not know if the players were invited from the federation or where they were invited by someone else. I do not think it’s logical to invite players by SMS and I therefore I would not comment on that.”

Commenting on a question in reference to Sadegh Moharrami and why he was not invited to the national team when he was in Persepolis, “I do not know if he was invited. I have not seen the list and I cannot comment. There is no doubt that Sadegh Moharrami is a very good player.”

“Every eleven of my players deserve to be in the national team squad,” Branko said, answering the question of whether some of Persepolis’s players were left out of the national team.

Persepolis coach continued: “I have no disagreement with anyone. Have you ever heard that I oppose someone and talk about someone? If I’m having trouble with me, I do not know. Have you heard me say something bad or give a comment on the players list?. It’s natural that all players want to be invited to the national team.”

Realistic chances of Team Melli in Russia.

With less than twenty days left to  the world Cup, what are the realistic chances of Team Melli against he might of Spain & Portugal? The other team in the group, Morocco, is not to be taken lightly either.

The World sport media is full of reviews about the Russia world cup and there are always those predictions of course. When it comes to Group B, the majority would pick the two European giants as the favorite to qualify ahead of Iran & Morocco. It is a fair assessment based on track records and achievements of the past.

However, time and again, football has shown us that winning is all about being the better team on the day and even being that good is no guarantee of winning the match. That is one beauty of football that makes it by far the most attractive sport in the world. So, can Team Melli surprise a few and qualify from this tough group, the answer is YES, very much so.

It is not a wishful thinking, but based on decades of observation of the team and the current style under the control of one Carlos Queiroz. If there is anything that is certain with the Portuguese master, it is his passion for tight defenses and his ideology that strong defenses can win you matches which has been his predominant tactics all through his reign with Team Melli.

Queiroz has an amazing record with Team Melli. In fact, the last time he lost an official match was 4 years ago against Bosnia in the World Cup. Since then, he only lost two friendly games against Tunisia and Sweden.

With the majority of Team Melli players making a living in European leagues,  that fear and complex about World Class European players does not affect their performance anymore. The cold feet syndrome hit the team in their first ever world cup in 1978.

This group of players can play against the best of them. The defenders will be dealing with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, and Diego Costa like any other forwards they have dealt with before, albeit with special instruction by the Maestro Queiroz. The chances of the two stars putting a few goals still exists but it is far from a forgone conclusion.

Team Melli strength really lies in the attack. Up front is where the two golden boys of Iran can make a difference, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Sardar Azmoun. These two can beat defenses and can score against the top ranks, but they need the supply from the midfield. Much of that support will be on the shoulders of Ashkan Dejagah , if he full recovers  , and Saman Ghoddos another amazing talent for Iran.  The success or failure very much depends on how the midfield performs in both the defensive and offensive duties.

Team Melli biggest challenge is in the goal. Number one choice Alireza Biranvand has been in abysmal form lately. Conceding goals aplenty with his club, he showed that he really lacks what it takes at top class.  The other two on the list are hardly more experienced than Biranvand with Amir Abedzadeh , the son of legendary , Ahmad Abedzadeh , just making his debut against Uzbekistan. It is certainly a worry for Queiroz and will be interesting to see his pick. Knowing that Queiroz never shies from making dramatic calls, it very likely that he might drop his number and pick the unlikeliest of choices.

Mazaheri, Zob Ahan keeper , has been in truly fine form in the Persian Gulf Pro League and with his team in the AFC Champions League, however, Queiroz might favor Abedzadeh as he is playing in Portuguese league and that might give him an edge.

Biranvand dipping form, a worry for Team Melli.

Just as most Team Melli fan breathed a sigh of relief for having a strong and reliable goalkeeper between the post of Team Melli goal line, Alireza Biranvand has hit his lowest form since joining Iran’s squad.

After years of unceratinity and problems in the goalkeeping post with several changes of goalkeepers, it was apparent that the young Biranvand has displayed the form that augurs well for the future of Team Melli. His reflexes, Aerial command and body frame is a source of confidence for the coaches and defenders alike. It seems all is settled at the back and the guardian of Team Melli during the world cup 2018 would be none other than Alireza Biranvand.

Biranvand kept 17 clean sheets in the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers including 12 consecutive clean sheets lasting 1108 minutes. This is a statistic of the highest caliber.

And then, the Syria match!

For the first and last time in Round 3, Iran concedes a goal, in fact two goals against Syria. On both of the goals, Birnavand was the culprit and weak. The second Syrian goal in the added time of the match, was particularly embarrassing as mild shot by Syria’s Omar Al Souma passed between Biranvands wide open legs into the net.

This was the start of a spiral dive in form by Biranvand as Persepolis look exposed with Birnavand in goal. Almost all the goals conceded had a hallmark of bad goalkeeping. The Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal scored 4 goals passed him in the semifinal first leg of the AFC Champions League. In the Persian Gulf League, Biranvand was not doing well either as he was a culprit in several of the goals conceded that resulted in Persepolis dropping from the top spot of the league table.

Branko Ivankovic had enough of the long spell of bad performance by Biranvand and has benched him for the next Persepolis league match; however, the concern remains if Queiroz has still confidence in him. If the last 5 or 6 matches are to go by, Team Melli cannot rely on Biranvand and must find a suitable replacement. Haghighi, who is playing in Sweden now, has been called again. He is the most natural replacement if Birnavand does not improve vastly. In all cases, goalkeeping is once again becoming a worry.

Second consecutive FIFA World Cup for Team Melli

  • Iran reach second consecutive FIFA World Cup™
  • Team Melli defeat Uzbekistan to join Brazil and Russia at the finals
  • Carlos Queiroz’s side have yet to concede in Group B, after eight games

The scenes in Tehran were jubilant. Coaching staff and players streamed onto the pitch and celebrated in unison. Giant flags were waved, prayers were undertaken and bear hugs handed out by team-mates. Iran had done it: they had reached the promised land of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. Team Melli’s 2-0 victory over Uzbekistan was enough for Carlos Queiroz’s side to secure their seat on the plane to Russia next year.

“I want to thank all the fans for their support during the qualification campaign,” talismanic midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh said, speaking to the AFC after the game. “The results we have achieved are for you and I hope we can now win the last two games. We all have happiness in our hearts.”

The second goal in the match that sealed qualification was scored by Mehdi Taremi, who bagged his eighth World Cup qualifying strike on the road to Russia.  

“I am very happy that we have qualified for the World Cup for the second time in a row and that we have brought happiness to the Iranian people,” Mehdi Taremi, said speaking to the AFC after the victory. “I feel so happy that I was able to score a goal and that my goal was able to help us win the match. We are very happy and it shows the great progress we are making in Asia. I hope we continue to perform like this in the future and qualify for the World Cup every four years.”

Despite some question marks over whether the Portuguese would remain in the role after Brazil 2014, Carlos Queiroz has masterminded a majestic march back to the global finals, with the side going almost 1000 minutes without conceding – their defence unbreached in the third round so far.

“Carlos Queiroz and his colleagues have done so much for Team Melli,” Iran’s striking legend Ali Daei said. “One of the most important things he’s done is bringing in so many young players and changed the major players of the team. We are now one of the best sides in Asia, along with Australia, because we haven’t lost against any Asian teams in recent years.”

Fans will be hoping that it is fifth time lucky for the Iranians, who will be looking to progress beyond the first round at the World Cup for the first time in Russia.

A new face in Team Melli’s final prectise session.

Team Melli conducted its last practise session before the China game at Sanat Naft research institute field in Tehran today morning. The session was attended by all the 23 players of the squad and no injuries were reported among the players. There was an initial fear that Alireza Jahanbakhsk who received a knock against Qatar, might be absent for this match, however, Jahanbakhsh practised with the squad and there is no sign of any problem.

The interesting event was the appearance of a new face in the coaching staff. A Portuguese coach named Alexander López , turned up quietly and started coaching the three goalkeepers, Alireza Biranvand , Mazaheri and Akhbari. Of course, Team Melli management from Saket to the PR officer maintained absolute silent about the sudden disappearance of the American Goal Keeping coach Dan Gaspar who has accompanied  Queiroz for a long time and was the most popular of all the coaches amongst the players and the administrators. It is believe that he has been sacked like Peyrovani, Nekounam & Aghajanian.

What is known of these changes, is that Queiroz by his own wisdom, suddenly decides that these staff are of no use to his plans and fires them. Dan Gasper was the only non-Iranian  in the list. Since there has been no official announcement,  or communication by the FFIRI , that is the strongest of the many speculations.

Lack of transparency, covert like practices, extreme self-centeredness has marred Team Melli for many years now. In such circumstances, rumors and speculation play a major role and as such , is detrimental for the squad.

In another development, The Italian Marcello Lippi , China’s national team head coach , failed to appear for the post-match press conference. The Chinese failed to provide a justification for his absence which is mandatory practice by the FIFA ruling, hence China will be fined. Not that such a fine will rattle the finances of the Mega-rich Chinese.


Weather , a serious concern for Team Melli vs. Syria

Selection of Malaysia as the venue for Home matches of Syria seems to be an act of haste or desperation. Malaysia , a country whose fan have consistently showed disregard for Asian football , in the region of 10 to 12 hours flying from the Middle East , and worst of all , in the height of the rainy season , is not exactly an ideal venue for a World Cup qualifier.

The Syrians could not have made a worst choice , but then again , it is not as many countries have volunteered to host the political outcasts with politics rather than anything other factors playing a major role in limiting the worn-torn country’s choice.

Alireza Biranvand
Alireza Biranvand

Iran has to endure a tough time in Tunku Abdelrahman stadium, where the pitch is also not too ideal. Chances of thunderstorm and torrential rain, similar to the one against Papua New Guinea’s match exists and threatens to spoil the match. In that  last match played in Malaysia , the last 15 minutes should have been abandoned due to the water-logged pitch. But as the match was a friendly, all stakeholder decided to carry on with the job in nearly impossible conditions.

This weather pattern could repeat itself today against Syria adding to the concerns of Carlos Queiroz. One of the critical positions that is in the head coach top priorities is the goalkeeper. Sousha Makani , is the most experienced of the 3 keepers however, he is never been a reliable and competent custodian of goal. Many questioned his return to Team Melli , but Carlos Queiroz has his own unorthodox means in player’s selection.

Makani might well be the keeper for the match ahead of Akhbari in the absence of the excellent Biranvand who is not available.

Makani played against Papua New Guinea but it was far from a testing match. The Syrians , despite the dearth of goals scored, are a much more serious opponents and seem desperate to break the jinx against Team Melli.

Team Melli Squad for Guam & India matches.

Carlos Queiroz announced the name of 23 players for the upcoming two matches vs. Guam and India.

The exciting change in the team is the introduction of 3 younger players to supplement the fresh look team that the Portuguese coach selected after the Asian Cup 2015. The average age of the team significantly dropped to 25 years.

The 3 new players are Omid AliShah (Persepolis) Mohammadreza Akhbari (Tractorsazi) and Mehrdad Ghanbari (Zob Ahan). Team Melli squad has 8 legionnaire plyers while 15 of them play their football in the domestic league.

The major absentees are Karim Ansarifard and Masoud Shojaei both of whom have suffered major decline in their forms. Reza Ghoochannejad is also absent due to injury.


1. ALISHAH, Omid
2. AMIRI, Vahid
3. AKHBARI, Mohammadreza
4. AZMOUN, Sardar
5. BIRANVAND, Alireza
6. DEJAGAH, Ashkan
9. GHAFOORI, Vourya
10. GHANBARI, Mehrdad
11. HAGHIGHI, Alireza
12. HAJSAFY, Ehsan
13 HEYDARI, Khosrow
14 HOSSEINI, Jalal
16 KANANI, Mohammad Hossein
18 MONTAZERI, Pejman
20 REZAEIAN, Ramin
21 TAREMI, Mehdi
22 TEYMOURIAN, Andranik
23 TORABI, Mehdi

Solutions for the goalkeeping calamity in Iran.

It is no shame to admit that the recently concluded league season, was one of the worst for the goalkeepers in Iranian teams. Some, like Dariush Esfandiari, even call it a tragedy.

Every single team in the Persian Gulf League suffered goalkeeping headaches, some worse than others. Persepolis lowly rank in the table which is one of its worst in the history is attributed to several factors but it was on the field that the team performed poorly especially at the defense and goalkeepers’ end. Sousha Makani has proven that he is inconsistent, unreliable and a keeper who cannot be trusted when called upon to deliver. On top of those erratic performances Makani is also quite poor in discipline, a player who has created numbers of incidents at the club. He was sacked from the team only to return back after a few kisses. His last match in the league, the Tehran Derby ,  resulted in 3 match suspension for his role in skirmishes at the end of the game.

Rahman Ahmadi

Whether it is fair or otherwise, many experts in Iran attribute Tractorsazi’s failure to win the league and poor performance in the AFC Asian Champions league to their goalkeeper Hamed Lak. Frankly, the keeper was dreadful in many crucial games and definitely cost his team some precious points. Putting all the blame on him is open to debate.

Alireza Biranvand
Alireza Biranvand

Alireza Biranvand, young, so promising and so confident when he came through the ranks, was as another huge disappointment for his side, Naft Tehran. Rahman Ahmadi was the no.1  Keeper for Team Melli after the dismissal of Seyed Mehdi Rahmati , but he soon flopped and lost his place in Team Melli while his repeated mistakes with his club Sepahan relegated him to reserve and the bench. Mohsen Frouzan had a torrid time in Esteghlal goal. Many hailed his arrival with the blues but he has shown little to raise the fans’ trust and confidence.

 Dariush Esfandiari , the goalkeeping coach  of Gostarish concurs to the fact that it was a “disastrous “ season for Iranian goalkeepers. His own team suffered quite badly like the rest. Esfandiari has some interesting thoughts on the reasons behind such failures by Iranian keepers.

“Much of the problem with goalkeepers stems from their demeanor, their personality and what is their mindset.   Goalkeeper need to act professionally and be trained by dedicated experts because they are the last wall of defense. If Keepers concede easy goals, the chances of the team winning would be minimized. No team can challenge for honors without a competent keeper.” Dariush Esfandiari commented.

 “There is obvious weakness at foundations level. Professional trainers need to be available for these keepers. Goalkeeper coaches must not be marginalized and not considered as peripherals in the team. I urge the federation to establish a program for the clubs to increase the level of competency and standards of Goalkeepers coaches in Iran. It is as important to do that at foundations levels, all the way to the seniors. I dare to say that it is even more important at foundations. This program has to be run with the aid of qualified professionals”

“We must utilize this opportunity to correct the situation else Iran will be facing a real disaster in this important post in the near future. This season was the alarm bell, it was loud and clear. The federation and clubs have to act to establish a competence program for goalkeepers. We can send Iranian coaches for specialized Goalkeepers coaching workshops. Turkey is a good place to start as they have some advance set ups there.”

Hossein Faraki does it again . Sepahan lift the League title for the 5th time.

A thrilling finale to the Persian Gulf League season which saw the championship change hands three times in 90 minutes, ended today. Tractorsazi Tabriz, Naft Tehran and Sepahan Esfahan were all in it for the championship title, with the first two meeting in Tabriz and Sepahan facing Saipa t home.

The final day of the league began with Tractorsazi leading the table and needing a win against the other contender Naft Tehran to secure the title for the first time in the history. Naft was in the same situation as Tractorsazi , while Sepahan not only needed all the three points of the match against Saipa , but also for the two teams drawing in Tabriz , in order to snatch the title.



Snatch is the most appropriate term for Sepahan eventual Championship title as they have been chasing the leaders for weeks without actually making the top until 9 minutes from the season end.

The match in Tabriz in an over-filled Yadegar Imam stadium estimated to be at 70,000 started shockingly for the host as Ezzati scored Naft’s goal within 9 minutes. That result meant the title was for Naft, but Tractorsazi soon responded. The brilliant partnership between Ando Teymourian and the Brazilian forward Edinho , produced two goals for the Azeri team. The first one came on the 37th minute when a nice weighted cross from Ando found unmarked Edinho on the right. The top league scorer, calmly dribbled the on rushing Naft Defender Shiri, before slotting the ball to the right far corner of Biranvand goal to score the equalizer.

Eight minutes later on the stroke of halftime , the roles was reversed as Edinho, on the left flank, was the provider of an immaculate low cross which found the on rushing Teymourian, to head home past Biranvand reach to the far end of the Naft goal. On both of Tractorsazi goals , Biranvand was found wanting and guilty of poor positioning and action.

Now , Tractorsazi was the champion despite Sepahan leading Saipa in Esfahan.

In the second half Tractorsazi cemented their lead with a third beautifully taken goal by the young and promising forward Farid Karimi, who was surrounded by 4 Naft players but managed to beat them and easily put the ball under Biranvand’s open legs!

3-1 for Tractorsazi as Yadegar Imam Stadium erupted.

Naft Tehran, A fine team with grit and talents.
Naft Tehran, A fine team with grit and talents.


But there was more action and thrill awaiting the fans. The fate of this match turned upside down when only two minutes after Tractorsazi’s goal, Ando Teymourian, the most experienced of Tractorsazi players, got his marching orders from Iran’s top referee Alireza Faghani. With just short of half an hour to go, suddenly Tractorsazi was feeling the heat.

In the 76th minute and after consistent waves of Naft attacks, Ali Ghorbani pulled another goal back for his team to make it 3-2. Tractorsazi had 14 minutes to hold on to their lead to win the title, but Lenardo Padovani , the Naft defender took full advantage of a horrible mistake by Hamed Lak in Tractorsazi’s goal to score the equalizer.

It was a massive heartbreak for Tabrizi fans.


Sepahan were still leading Saipa for the remainder of the 9 minutes of the League season 2014/15 as the two goals scored by Mehdi Sharifi in Esfahan was good enough for the Esfahani team to win its record 5th title.

Hossein Faraki, proved beyond shadow of doubt that he is currently the best Iranian football coach by far, winning his second title in a row with two different clubs.


As far as Team Melli is concerned , the matches of the last few rounds and the thrilling finale , showed plenty of promise and talents to replace the old guard in the team, if only one Carlos Queiroz allows that to happen. The Portuguese coach , was nowhere to be seen in any stadiums for the last day of the league as he has left Iran and missed the thrills of what he labels as a boring league.

The worrying part is that Team Melli will be truly struggling in the goalkeepers department as Naft Tehran’s Alireza Biranvand and Tractorsazi’s Hamed Lak both where culprits in their performances. Their standard was consistent with their earlier showings in the league. Both are on Team Melli squad list but certainly liabilities and hardly worthy of a place in Team Melli. With Peykan relegated and with them Mehdi Rahmati, it is difficult to see him bounce back that soon or be picked up by Queiroz. There are no other significant talents who can be considered a worthy candidate for Team Melli goalkeeper position discovered in the league.