Tag: Amir Abedzadeh

Progress of Team Melli legionnaires in Europe

As if the shambolic status of football is not bad enough, the disappointing news from Europe has cast a shadow on Team Melli with less than 100 days to go to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Nine key Team Melli players are engaged in the European leagues plus a possible few more candidates for selection which Dragan Skocic has been keeping a close look at.

Jahanbakhsh, Azmoun, Taremi, Ansarifard, Hajsafy, Mohammadi, and Sayyadmanesh are the main squad players in addition to Alipour who is one of the strong contenders for selection.
Apart from Mehdi Taremi who has started the new league where he left off scoring a brace in the opening match, the news of the rest has been not encouraging and in many cases quite disappointing.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, the Captain of Team Melli has been having a tough time since he moved to Feyenoord. His chances of continuing with the famous Dutch club are slim as he is turned from a promising start to a fringe player making cameo appearances for the club. It is safe to say that Jahanbakhsh has never fulfilled his potential with Brighton and now it seems that the story is repeating itself in the Dutch league with Feyenoord.

Sardar Azmoun is a similar story in the Bundesliga. Unlike his brilliant displays and goal-scoring traits in the Russian league, the leading forward of Team Melli is finding life tough in German football as he has been struggling with Leverkusen. It will not be long before Azmoun becomes a bench player with the way things are progressing unless he drastically improves.

Mehdi Taremi has no such problem as his country teammates and seems to be enjoying his time with FC Porto who are leading the Portuguese table with 2 wins out of 2. Despite the disappointment of not being sought by major European Clubs in the transfer market as some of his teammates have succeeded in, Taremi seems to be content with doing his job in Portugal and enhancing his reputation in the process.

Allahyar Sayadmanesh who plays for the second-tier English league club has shown enough promise for the club to buy him outright after a loan spell from Fenerbahce. Hull City is leading the Championship table with two wins out of two. Sayyadmanesh is hoping to make a real impression in order for Dragan Skocic to dislodge Ansarifard and pick the young forward for the World Cup.

Karim Ansarifard’s case is perhaps the most disappointing. The Greek club AEK Athens has been having difficulty finding a buyer for the unwanted Ansarifard. It seems that the much-traveled forward is on the move again after a disappointing in the 2021/22 season where he played 29 matches but scored 4 goals only.

Milad Mohammadi and Ehsan Hajsafy seem to have better fortune with AEK Athens. Although the new season has not started yet, it seems that the club intended to keep the two Iranians in their squad for 2022/23 season.

Amir Abedzadeh is experiencing his second season with the second-tier Spanish league club Ponferradina. Although the season has not started yet, Abedzadeh played well for the team and managed to make 35 appearances for the club.

Saman Ghoddos has been perhaps the most disappointing of the lot playing for Brentford, or at least trying to play. He was an unused substitute in his club’s brilliant performance in destroying Manchester United 4-0 on Saturday. All 5 Brentford were used in the demolishing of Man Utd but Ghoddos was nowhere to be seen. He was not even on the bench for the first match against Leicester City on the opening day of the English Premier League. It seems that his days in Brentford are numbered.

Ali Alipour is another forward lurking in the shadow of the big boys of Team Melli.  The 26 years old forward has changed club this season moving to Gil Vicente in the Portuguese League. He started the new season well by scoring in the first match. Alipour is a real contender for a place on the plane to Doha comes the World Cup.

Korea Rep v Iran post match analysis.

It had to happen one day, as Team Melli lost to its nemesis South Korea after 11 years. It also meant the end of Dragan Skocic’s undefeated record extending two years and 15 matches. Iran lost to a full-strength Korea 2-0 in World Cup stadium in the top of the table clash of Group A FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.

Under the circumstances, it was an honorable defeat, if there is such a term and the result is hardly a source of shame but more rather a disappointment. Losing half of your fix starting players while playing against the top team in the group is in fact expected and fair. This does not indemnify the coach and player, however, as there were some shortfalls and gaps that need attention and analysis.

Starting at the lineup. Despite Skocic statement in the press conference that his team will not be playing a defensive game, his lineup and gameplan were exactly that!

There were six defenders in his team: Shojaa KHALILZADEH, Majid HOSSEINI , Milad MOHAMMADI, Hossein KANANI-ZADEGAN, Omid NOORAFKAN, and Ehsan HAJSAF . However one interprets that, it is still a defensive park-the-bus like lineup.

With a team like South Korea, such a plan will be a dream as it allows their players to keep the pressure up and keep coming at you time and time again until they score, and that is exactly what they did.

Opting for a defensive game plan was not the best option despite the half-strength team. Skocic actually only one defender in Moharrami who was easily replaceable without overhauling the team defense.

There was also this disturbing unconfirmed news that Khalilzadeh started the match carrying an injury sustained in training. It was clear that the defender was suffering and had to be substituted before halftime.

In the Goal:

Despite the horror of the first goal, where Amir Abedzadeh committed a real blunder, the keeper was at the top of his game and was at his best during the first half. His aerial superiority and timely interceptions and distribution of the ball were quite creditable. Even in the first few minutes of the second half, he managed to make a miraculous double save and thwarted Hueing Min Son several times. In the second goal, he was not to be blamed either.

The Defenders:

Skocic wanted to solidify this line to ensure the Koreans don’t turn their full-strength team into an advantage. The poor marking in addition to the clumsy handling by Abedzadeh, resulted in the first goal, but it was not only the keeper’s fault. Questions should be asked why 4 markers could not stop Son Heung-Min from shooting. That was feeble marking.  The second goal, however, was definitely poor marking which allowed the South Korean defender to find himself unmarked in the box and a simple tap-in to score.

On the positive side, the defense really cut the Korean supplies by giving Son Hueing Min very little breathing space. A world-class player like him can inflict real damage and despite scoring one goal the Iranian defenders deprive him of many.

Where were the Midfield players?  

Collectively, it was the worst of the 4 lines of the team. As the game plan required defending from deep, Skocic was counting of these players to form the first defense line, however, that was the Achilles Heals of the team. The defensive side of the midfield worked fine and relatively did what it was asked to do, but they all failed to support the lonely striker in Azmoun and were instrumental in having Azmoun experience one of his most futile matches with Team Melli.

The insistence of Gholizadeh and Nourollahi to send long balls or trying to pass the ball behind the Korean defense to Azmoun failed one time after another. In fact, during the whole match, Iran managed one such success in passing behind to Azmoun, which the striker managed to head mildly into the Korean keepers waiting arms.

Whether the two central midfielders were going according to the game plan or using their own initiatives, is unknown but that is a clear shortfall and needs to be addressed for future and more important games.

Jahanbakhsh and Ezatollahi were sorely missed in this match.

A One-man show at the front!

Basically, that was the case with Azmoun up front against South Korea. He drew a lonely and desperate figure. There was no chance in hell for Azmoun to create a threat let alone score with the little support he had from his teammates and their game plan. Frustrated and lonely, Azmoun was easily neutralized by the Koreans.


In general, the absence of 5 key players is significant for any team and a handicap against the strongest, but in hindsight, things could have been better. It is a loss that practically meant very little, but for the experience and future games, Skocic should have a big lesson to learn and study the match carefully to discover the loops and the gaps that lead to the loss. But once again, no big harm was done.

One point to end the subject. This match will surely be celebrated by the anti-Skocic camp, but then again let us not get fooled by them and their hidden agenda. Skocic’s reputation remains intact and would be prudent to support him all the way to Doha.

South Koreans grab a win against Iran.

Seoul: Korea Republic moved to the top of Group A in the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar™ after a 2-0 victory over the Islamic Republic of Iran on Thursday saw them climb above their opponents with a game to play.
After dominating the first 45 minutes at Seoul World Cup Stadium, Korea opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time through Son Heung-min before Kim Young-gwon doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute with the goal that ultimately killed off the Iranian challenge.
The victory meant Korea claimed a first win over Iran in more than a decade as they also dealt the Iranians their first defeat in Group A to mean they go into their final game away to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday knowing three more points would see them win the group.
While both sides had already secured their passage to the FIFA World Cup, there remained top spot in the standings left to play for as Korea also sought their first win over the Iranians since the 2011 AFC Asian Cup™, with the sides having faced off seven times since.

Both Son and Hwang Hee-chan returned to the Taeguk Warriors’ line-up having missed the previous qualifiers, while Team Melli were without leading scorer Mehdi Taremi, captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Saman Ghoddos, with COVID-19 ruling the trio out.
And it was Paulo Bento’s side who had the first chance of note when just before the 10-minute mark Hwang Ui-jo slipped the ball to Son on the left before darting to the near post and heading the Tottenham Hotspur forward’s first-time delivery just wide.

Korea controlled the majority of the play in the opening 45 minutes but an Iranian backline that had conceded just twice in eight matches to date stood firm until first-half stoppage time when Son’s third goal in Group A broke the deadlock.
The Korean captain was first to a loose ball, skipping round Ahmad Noorollahi in the process and advancing goalwards before unleashing a fizzing shot from 25 yards that proved too hot to handle for ‘keeper Amir Abedzadeh who in truth should have done better.

Korea could have doubled their lead shortly after the restart when Hwang Hee-chan raced through the Iranian defense before slipping in Son, only for the forward to be denied by a superb save from the outrushing Abedzadeh, who was then up quickly to keep out Hwang Ui-jo’s follow-up as he went some way towards making amends for his earlier error.
Bento’s side then did open up a two-goal cushion when good interchange play between Lee Jae-sung and Hwang Hee-chan down the left led to the former playing a low ball into the center for defender Kim – up for a corner just moments earlier – to send home from six yards.

The visitors had their best chance of the night with a little over 10 minutes to play when substitute Allahyar Sayyadmanesh delivered an inviting ball in from the right that the diving Sardar Azmoun could only head into the hands of a grateful Kim Seung-gyu.
Azmoun then played a lovely backheel into the path of Sayyadmanesh just seconds later but, with only Kim to beat, the Hull City forward dinked the ball over the ‘keeper and wide.

Son could have killed the game off with six minutes remaining but saw his goalbound effort deflected wide by Hossein Kanani as the game ended 2-0 and the Koreans maintained their unbeaten record.

Korea now sits a point above Iran ahead of Tuesday’s Matchday 10 clash with the UAE in Dubai, where victory would see them win Group A. Iran, meanwhile, return to Mashhad to round off their campaign against Lebanon.

Players rating vs UAE

Amir Abedzadeh : Another commanding, confident and perfect display. Despite the few attacks by the opposing team, Abedzadeh handled the ball and any aerial threat with ease and did not put a foot wrong, Oozes with confidence and that transmits to the defenders in front of him too [8.75]

Sadegh Moharrami : Disappointing premature game end for such a skillful half-back. His second yellow card and subsequent dismissal were unprofessional, reckless, and negligent for a player at the international level. We sincerely hope that a good lesson is learned  [5.0]

Omid Noorafkan : In the makeshift defense line, Noorafkan played well as a central defender partnering with Kananizadegan. Solid and steady although the UAE attacks were sparse and hardly threatening [7.7]

Milad Mohammadi: Had a quiet game, but it is apparent that this pacey defender has lost some of his finer touches. His ball distribution and passing lacked accuracy and was guilty of some bad passes [6.8]

Hossein Kanani-zadegan : Another solid performance at the center of defense. His timely header saved the Team a certain goal. Despite playing in an unusual formation with his regular partner (Khalilzadeh) missing, his coordination with Noorafkan was immaculate. [8.4]

Saeed Ezatollahi : Still wobbly and at times acts like a bull in a china store. The defensive work was as expected but he lacks consistency. Got himself booked for an unnecessary foul, then escaped another booking minutes later with a bad tackle. [6.7]

Saman Ghoddos : The second consecutive game in a row that Saman looks lackluster. It was not a difficult decision for Skocic to sacrifice him after Moharrami was dismissed. He made little difference in the team and lacked proper and accurate ball distribution for his teammates. It is a pity as Ghoddos is a highly technical and visionary football. He has yet to deliver at Team Melli though. [6.0]

Ali Gholizadeh : After a marvelous run late in the second half where he showed tremendous skills, his run towards the UAE goal and the feeble shoot on goal, while Taremi on his left was wide open, is bordering a crime. He did not have a good game like his partner Ghoddos. It is unsettling and as such robbing the team of creativity. Missed two glorious goal-scoring chances [6.3]    

Alireza Jahanbakhsh : Another top performance from the Captain of Team Melli. His enthusiasm, skill, and vision are going to be much needed if Iran has any aspiration in qualifying from the group stages of the World Cup. He is the Maestro of the team [8.9] Man of the Match

Mehdi Taremi : He delivers when needed. That goal against UAE was a poacher’s goal and that is what makes Taremi so special and a valuable asset to the team. He suffered from some fatigue especially when he had to return back and cover for the team missing a player, but still performed admirably [8.8]

Vahid Amiri : A few flashes of brilliance but Amiri like many of his teammates today lacked the high passing accuracy. It is expected from him to feed the forwards with crosses, but they were scarce and far apart thus hardly creating any threats. He still covered quite well in the back when needed. [7.5]


Ahmad Nourollahi : Found it hard to control the midfield after he came as a substitute. His one shot at goal was way off target., otherwise he had a quiet game. Perhaps recovering from Covid had some effect on his performance  [7.0]

Saleh Hardani : taking into account his status as a new member of the team, he played with confidence and boldness against quite a pacey UAE winger. He never let his guard down and filled Moharrami’s slot quite well. A very good prospect and a player that needs to be given more playing time [7.8]

Siavaush Yazdani Moghadam : Not enough playing time to rate him, but in the opportunity given, he played well without any problem.to be

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.

Syria Match review: The most challenging is the enemy within

Team Melli players under Dragan Skocic, will be meeting Syria tomorrow with all eyes on the three points and widening the gap at the top of the table of Group A of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.

While on-field, this match like the rest of them in this group, is far from a forgone conclusion despite the fact that Syria is at the bottom of the table. It is going to be the same story for Team Melli. The object is to translate the superiority of the team into goals while keeping the defense tight.

However, the biggest battle for Team Melli seems to be occurring outside of the field of play and the enemy within. There seems to be an agenda to undermine the coach, Skocic. That enemy within, people working behind the curtains, have a systematic means of ruining the squad to serve their own interests. The target is Dragan Skocic.

The Croat has been criticized left, right, and center by many so-called Iranian football personalities who are perhaps blinded by self-interest or serving some agenda. These people conveniently ignore facts and figures such as playing 12 games, winning 11, and drawing 1 under the resume of Skocic, while denying the Croat coach any credit, by attributing the team’s immaculate results to individual players’ performance !!

Their objective is to force FFIRI to replace Skocic with one of their own.

Even a personality like Ali Daei, who is a living legend, has been dragged into this battle, In defense of Skocic-Taremi , Ali Daei who has been out of work in football since he left Saipa in 2019, took a side and supported Taremi but he also made some statements against Skocic which was indeed in poor taste and not appropriate for the character of Daei. Many other ex-footballers went on similar rhetorics.

Whether FFIRI will succumb to pressure to replace Skocic at some stage, is another tale for another day but suffice to say that the Croat has held his heads high, performed marvelously for Team Melli, and put Iran on the brink of qualification to the World Cup with a few games to spare.

On the field, Syria with a few key players missing will hardly deviate from their usual game plan. Tight defenses, pressure of opposition players, and hope of a goal on counterattacks. Heaven forbids if the Syrians score, as the repeat of the Lebanese Black Art of time-wasting, cheating, and faking injury, will be the tale of the day.

With Jahanbakhsh missing, Skocic will have several options available. He has Hajsafy, Torabi, and Sarlak as replacements. Last time out, Ghoddos was used from the start but it was a disappointing performance from the Brentford midfield player alongside Azmoun. Ansarifard or Rezaei are two options for Skocic while Ghoddos , if used again, would be operating behind the two strikers.

Goalkeeping was far from assuring against Lebanon. It will not be a great surprise if Beiranvand is benched and either Abedzadeh or Niazmand start instead.

The defense was solid and Vahid Amiri excelled in his left-back role.

Under the circumstances, Syria’s job to improve their record against Iran looks like a mammoth task, But football is a strange game, and surprises can happen. Skocic, however, is a Wiley coach and has prepared well for worst-case scenario.

Amir Abedzadeh joins SD Ponferradina

Iranian international goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh (Tehran, Iran, 1993) joined the Spanish second division club s SD Ponferradina. The new Blue and White goalkeeper transferred from the Primeira Liga de Portugal club CS Marítimo, with whom he has been keeping goal. 

Abedzadeh began his professional career in Orange County SC in the United States. After that experience, in 2012 he joined Persepolis FC, one of the main clubs in his country. After two campaigns, he experienced a new stage in Iran in the ranks of Rah Ahan FC.

In 2016 he began a long cycle in Portuguese football, which he arrived at to join FC Barreirense. After a campaign in this club, CS Marítimo de Funchal opened the doors to him of the highest category in Portugal. His prominence was growing and in the last two seasons, he has played as a regular starter.

In addition to his club experience, he is also a full international with Iran and was part of his country’s squad for the 2018 World Cup.

3 Team Melli players leave camp after positive corona test results!

Team Melli’s first training session was held today in preparation for the friendly match against Syria.

The team is camping at at the National Football Center and the session started from 11:30 am today (Wednesday).

After the start of training, Dragan Skocic briefed the players for a few minutes, then followed by various exercises..

Team Melli is missing a few regulars this time mostly due to travel restriction due to covid19. Amir Abedzadeh was not invited to the camp due to quarantine laws on Madeira Island in Portugal , Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Saman Ghoddos due to flight restrictions from England, Morteza PouraliGanji and Sadegh Moharrami are both on the injury list while and Kaveh Rezaei has tested positive for coronavirus. Meanwhile, Mehdi Ghaedi, Aref Gholami and Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri, all three players from Esteghlal, left the camp due to  positive corona test.

This training session lasted for 70 minutes with a focus on light physical work.

The second training session will be conducted tomorrow (Thursday).



Iran to play a friendly against Syria

 As customary, Iran Football Federation has failed  to have more than one friendly match for Team Melli in preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers , and this time it will face Syria without the presence of the legionnaires.

Team Melli will play a friendly match against the Syrian national team in Tehran on 30th March ,  to fill the gap of the postponed qualifiers against Hong Kong and Cambodia.

Due to the late cancellation of the World Cup qualifiers, the Football Federation could not coordinate more than one match for the national team. As a result, Team Melli, as in previous months, instead of utilizing maximum time allowed and arranging at least two training matches, still misses part of the days called “FIFA Day” for arranging friendly and official matches.

* Iran plays without legionnaires

The match between the two teams Iran and Syria is to be held on the 29th of March, which occurs outside of the FIFA Day , a period which the international ruling body has earmarked from  18th to 26th March 2021. Most of the national teams arrange friendly international matches in this period.  Team Melli is not allowed to use its legionnaire players because the friendly arranged with Syria is outside of the FIFA Day !!

Although Iranian clubs are sacrificing their interests for the sake of the national team, there is no news of the presence of legionnaire players in this match, and Skocic will have to send his team to face Syria  without all his key players.

The absence of players such as Tarmi, Azmoun, Beiranvand, Milad Mohammadi, Saeed Ezatollahi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Amir Abedzadeh, Sadegh Moharremi, Kaveh Rezaei, Ali Gholizadeh, Karim AnsariFard, etc. is in a situation which translates to what is a Team Melli without all of its key players, renders the friendly against the Syrians as a nothing more than a formality and hardly constructive for the Team and Skocic.

If the Iran-Syria match was held inside FIFA Day, it could be a special help to the Iranian national team. It remains to be seen whether Skocic can convince European and some Arab clubs to release their Iranian international  for  three to four days .

It is probable that he will generally restrict the presence of the legionnaires in the Nowruz 1400 camp, which begins on the 23rd of March, in order to participate in training only for three or four days.

BOSNIA vs IRAN 0-2 :perfect record for Skocic

Team Melli defeated Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-2 in Asim Ferhatović Hase Stadium, Sarajevo. The first half ended goalless. In the second half, Kaveh Rezaei scored the first in the 46th Minute, While in the dying minutes 90+2, the substitute Mehdi Ghayedi scored Iran’s second.  

 Bosnian star player Miralem Pjanic was supposed to be given a rest to prepare him for the crucial match against Italy, but it seems that the coach had cold feet and needed the Barcelona midfielder to inject some experience and creativity against Iran,

Both teams played open football with Iran having a slight advantage over the host in ball keeping. In the second match under Dragan Skočić, the Croatian picked a well-balanced team in the absence of at least half a dozen regular Team Melli starters.

Despite the pre-match statement of the Bosnian coach, who reckoned that Iran’s defense was vulnerable,  this match proved otherwise. Shoja’a Khalizadeh and Hossein Kannanizadegan formed a sold wall in the center while Mohammadi and Sadegh Moharrami were excellent on the flanks. Team Melli hardly worked to their maximum and managed to easily thwart the Bosnian offensive moves. Whatever filtered from the defenders, Abedzadeh masterly controlled his goals with perfect timings and solid catches. The Maritimo keeper is certainly becoming a serious contender for the number one spot in goal ahead of Beiranvand.

Iran played a balanced game and was clearly better prepared than the host. In the first 15 minutes, Team Melli could have been at least 2 goals up if it was not for the brave Bosnian keeper Jasmin Buric who saved Kaveh Rezaei from a close-range shot after Kaveh robbed the ball in the penalty area and was face to face with the keeper. Minutes later, Ali Gholizadeh had just one defender to beat for a clear shot of the gaping goal, in a similar situation but could not dribble past his marker. And finally, Vahid Amiri was beaten in a split of a second when he also was face-to-face with the Buric.

In the second half, Team Melli started unchanged. IN the first minute, Amiri, who robbed the ball on the right flank from the Bosnian defender, found Rezaei just outside the box and he squared the pass to him. After taking a couple of steps, Kaveh Rezaei picked his spot on the opposite end of the gaol and sent a delicious curler that beat two defenders and the keeper into the net. It was a world-class strike by Chreloi forward.

Several changes in the team and the same with Bosnia changed the rhythm and the pace slightly, but both continued the offensive gameplay in what was an entertaining encounter. Saeed Ezatolahi made the team after a long absence and his presence was felt. He could have made a much better pass for Team Melli to score on the counter, but his poor pass was intercepted robbing Iran of a goal. Otherwise, his towering presence and energy were quite refreshing for the team.

Mehdi Ghayedi was introduced late, and the Esteghal tiny forward scored Iran’s second with another cracking half volley on the far side of the keeper to make it 2-0 for Team Melli in the dying minutes

It was a very good performance by Team Melli. The defense line quite assuring, while u front, Gholizadeh, and Rezaei, teammates in Chareloi were quite a threat and made Bosina defenders work hard against them. The only concern about the excellent team arranged by Dragan Skocic was the midfield. which was ineffective and lacked depth the skills to be effective. In big games, that lack of creativity could bite back badly. Omid Noorafkan and Ezatollahi’s introduction improved the midfield, Noorallahi was a disappointment.

In reality, there was no midfield as the balls traveled directly to the forwards from the keeper or defenders to utilize the speed of the flanks and Rezaei limiting the effectiveness of the midfield.

Overall, it was an excellent performance and a perfect record for the Croatian head coach who is assisted by Vahid Hashemian. This performance augurs well for the team in the qualifiers that will start again in March 2012.