Tag: Alireza Jahanbakhsk

Team Melli to the semi-finals of AFC Asian Cup 2023

In one of the grandest performances of an Iranian team for many years, Team Melli defeated the mighty Japanese 2-1 in regulation time at the Education City Stadium on Saturday.

The quarter-final match was an early final between the Number one and two teams in Asia.

A late Alireza Jahanbakhsh penalty was the difference as Team Melli Iran came from behind to defeat Japan 2-1 and booked their place in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ semi-finals on Saturday.

The two teams had met in the semi-finals of the previous edition, with Japan emerging 3-0 winners and they looked on course to repeat the win when they took the lead before the half-hour mark, but two second-half goals from Mohammad Mohebi and Jahanbakhsh turned things around for the Iranians at Education City Stadium.

image content

Captaining Team Melli on the day in the absence of Ehsan Hajsafi, Jahanbakhsh nearly opened the Iranians’ account in the 13th minute when he picked up Saeid Ezatolahi’s pass down the left flank and curled a shot that nearly caught goalkeeper Zion Suzuki off-guard, but fizzed just over the crossbar.

The first test for Suzuki came after 18 minutes when Hidemasa Morita lost possession on the edge of the Japanese penalty box, allowing Ezatolahli to control the ball and hit with his left, but his shot was too central and the Japanese goalkeeper had no problems in dealing with it.

image content

Morita more than made up for his mistake 10 minutes later. The central midfielder embarked on a solo run to beat three Iranian defenders and arrive into the box before drilling an effort that made its way into the back of the net despite goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand’s best efforts to make the save.

image content

IR Iran’s biggest chance to equalise before the break was a Saman Ghoddos half-volley after he controlled the ball with his chest, but the Brentford midfielder narrowly missed the target.

image content

Nine minutes after the restart, Team Melli were able to restore parity after a long pass from Suzuki was interrupted and the ball fell to Sardar Azmoun who supplied a through pass to Mohebi. The forward was left with just the goalkeeper to beat and coolly slotted into the bottom corner for the equaliser.

image content

IR Iran thought they had completed their comeback in the 64th minute when Azmoun latched onto a long ball, dribbling expertly past two defenders and powering past Suzuki into the near post, but the AS Roma forward had strayed marginally offside and the goal was overruled.

The Japanese goalkeeper was called into action again to stop a spectacular Ezatolahi volley from the edge of the box and confidently produced the required save with just six minutes left to the end of 90.

image content

Deep into four minutes of added time, IR Iran got a golden chance to win the game when Ko Itakura brought Hussein Kanaani down inside the box. Jahanbakhsh stepped up and emphatically dispatched it into the top corner to earn coach Amir Ghalenoei’s side the all-important victory.

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.