Tag: Amir Ghalanoei

No place for Ahmad Nourollahi in Team Melli, unless…

Title: Amir Ghalenoei’s Firm Stand: Ahmad Nourollahi’s Omission from Team Melli

The AFC Asian Cup 2023 marked the absence of midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi, a notable exclusion from Team Melli’s roster. Despite his recent commendable performances with Al Wehda in the UAE Professional League, Nourollahi found himself sidelined under the helm of coach Amir Ghalenoei.

Nourollahi’s departure from the Team Melli camp during the match against Hong Kong in the preliminary stage of the 2026 World Cup was a breach of discipline that led to his exclusion from Ghalenoei’s final squad. Despite his continued success in the Emirates Club Football League post-Asian Cup, media inquiries persisted regarding his potential reinstatement into Team Melli.

However, Ghalenoei’s response to queries about Nourollahi’s return to the national team was met with a wry smile, indicating that complications still surrounded the midfielder’s potential comeback. The coach’s stance remained steadfast: Nourollahi would only be reconsidered if he publicly and officially apologized to the coaching staff for his actions, demonstrating a commitment to team discipline and cohesion.

Ghalenoei’s unwavering position on Nourollahi’s reinstatement deserves commendation, as it underscores the importance of maintaining discipline within the squad. With enough players already posing potential disciplinary issues, Ghalenoei’s decision serves as a reminder of the standards expected from Team Melli members both on and off the field.

Ghalenoei invites Afhsin Ghotbi to join Team Melli coaching team.

Amir Ghalenoei, the head coach of Team Melli, has invited a former head coach to work with him as an assitance/advisor.

In a TV show, Amir Ghalenoei, after praising Afshin Ghotbi’s past performance, invited the American-Iranian coach to help the national football team by being in Iran.

Afshin Ghotbi was in charge of Team Melli in the AFC Asian Cup 2011 where Iran were eliminated in the quarter finals against Korea Republic.

It is not known whether Ghalenoei, after his failuire to take Team Melli to the final of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 following a 3-2 defeat against the eventual champions Qatar, has officially invited Ghotbi through FFIRI or is it one of his ususal praises that he casually extends to lots of people.

Afshin Ghotbi was the head coach of Team Melli from 1st April 2009 until 22 January 2011. He manged the team in 30 matches winning 16 , drawing 6 nd 8 losses. He is currently the head coach of Canadian Premier League side Vancouver FC.

Team Melli needs to regain the fan’s confidence.

What the fans and critics saw from Team Mell’s last match is quite different than what Ghalenoei observed from the bench. Apparently, the head coach thought his team played quite well. He referred to the match statistics as proof. He did, however, admit that there were some individual mistakes in the match against Hong Kong.

From our perspective, it was a bad performance from Team Melli. It was quite different than the match versus Palestine where despite gaps in the team, the win was with a big margin. Against Hong Kong, the players were embarrassing at times and certainly, a coach of the caliber of Ghalenoei should not accept that and be courageous enough to admit and mend these shortfalls. Team Melli failed to deliver and was well below the expectations of the fans.

The worry is how the team can deteriorate so badly in a matter of days!

Understandably, that kind of admission would be difficult to announce publically, not from Ghalenoei anyway, however, the hope is that, if Team Melli has a serious aspiration to win the Asian Cup, the players and the coaching staff have to elevate their standards and performance quickly enough to be taken seriously. Right now, Iran is a rank outsider according to opinions here.

There is no doubt that this Iran Team has the full potential and has quality players that can challenge any of the teams here in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023. The match against UAE in a few hours, should not be hard work for Ghalenoei’s players, a win is the least of the expectations, anything less than a win will not be satisfactory and will shake the confidence of the fans further.

Absence of Team Melli Fans from the streets of Doha

The Qataris have become professional hard-core organizers of great events. This Asian Cup 2023 is no exception. Everything is well organized for an event of this magnitude. The streets of Doha are vibrant with fans from across Asia, It is colorful, cosmopolitan, relaxing yet exciting. Fans chanting and waving their teams’ flags are adding to the flavor of the tournament. However, the conspicuous absence of Iranian fans is disappointing. With Iran being next door and traveling to Doha as easy as flying between two Iranian cities, it is rather puzzling not to see more fans from Iran making the trip.

The match between Iran and the UAE is sold out online. It will be interesting to see how many fans actually attend the match at Education City Stadium.

Obsessions with which team will Iran meet in the round of 16.

Any team that aspires to lift the Asian Cup trophy, has at one stage meet strong opposition. Iranian media here has been speculating, calculating, hoping, and obsessing about the next opponent in the round of 16. The fact remains that as long as Team Melli heads the group, they should be playing a third-rank team of any of the three groups in the round of 16. In theory, that should not be a hard task for Iran.

Iran v UAE: Group C decider


Head coach Paulo Bento highlighted intelligent play and humility as qualities his UAE side need if they are to get a result against Iran in their third match of the AFC Asian Cup™ Qatar 2023 on Tuesday.

The UAE currently sit second in the group with four points to their name, but a defeat at Education City Stadium and other results going against them could see Bento’s men exit the competition in the group stage for the first time since 2011.

After a convincing 3-1 win over Hong Kong, China in their opening fixture, the UAE were held to a 1-1 draw against Palestine in a game they finished with 10 men after defender Khalifa Al Hammadi was sent off in the 37th minute. Bento also received a red card just before the final whistle, meaning he will be suspended for the Iran clash.

“Preparation for this match is going as normal,” said Bento.

“We are trying to recover as much as possible. The last game was difficult for us especially after minute 37 when we started playing with one player less. That was an important factor for sure.”

“We prepared our strategy for the next game against one of the strongest teams in Asia and the strongest in our group. It is a team that is composed of very good, experienced players, some of them play in high-level competitions. They play together for a long time and they don’t change their way of playing too much.

“It is a team that is easy to see their strengths, but not easy for the opponent to counter them, so we need to make a very good game in many aspects. We should be clever in the way we play against Iran and compete very well and be humble to accept that in some moments we will not dominate the game, so we have to control it in a different way, and reach the best possible result in a different way.”

And while Iran were one of the first teams to book their place in the next round, head coach Amir Ghalenoei acknowledged some problems faced in their last game against Hong Kong, China, insisting his side will not take things easy against the UAE on Tuesday.

“We are happy we were able to qualify for the next round,” said Ghalenoei.

“Based on our analysis and statistics, we had more than 70% possession and completed more than 200 passes against Hong Kong. In this tournament, in only two matches were one of the teams unable to complete 100 passes, one was India vs Uzbekistan and the other one was Hong Kong against us.

“We did have some problems, our passing accuracy was not great, we gave an opportunity to the opponents and their chances came from mistakes of our players, but I want to say thanks to all my players for the effort they put in against Hong Kong.”

UAE v IR Iran
Venue: Education City Stadium (Al Rayyan)
Kick-off: 18:00 (UTC+3)

“Tomorrow’s game will not be easy because we want to win and qualify to the second round as leaders. UAE are in good condition under Paulo Bento, and it will not be an easy match, Also Palestine still have a chance to qualify and because of the spirit of fair play, we want to play at our best too.

“Every player in the team knows they should have their best individual performance in order for us to be successful.”



IRAN- QATAR: Match preview

Team Melli will meet Qatar in the final of the Four Nations International tournament in Amman Jordan. The match is scheduled to kick off at 9 PM local time and will be played right after the third-place match between Iraq and host Jordan, in Amman International Stadium.

The match will be the first time that Carlos Queiroz will be playing opposite the team that he coached for 8 years in which he became a household name but not short of controversies that he created now and then in Iran. Team Melli is now under Amir Ghalenoei who is still undefeated since the start of the year.

Much hype has been made out of the fact that Querioz will face off against Iran, a team he left with the majority of players that he picked, still active in the team. The real issue of this match is the expectations from Team Melli after the collective criticism by everyone concerned in Iranian football on the performance of the team in the last match against Jordan. A shakey defense, a lethargic display, error-prone players, and just about a non-existent midfield all combined to paint a gloomy picture of the prospects of Team Melli in the AFC Asian Cup in less than three months from now.

Ghalenoei must have undergone a shock watching Jordanians dribble past his players with such ease. He certainly will not accept such a performance as he is a coach with high expectations and demands the best. Changes will be inevitable, but the fact remains that in Midfield, his choices are limited, while he still has a few cards in the defense zone.

From what we have seen from the Qatar Team, the defending AFC Asian Cup champions.is hardly anywhere near the form that brought them glory fours years back. Like Iran, they are stuck on several senior players who are aging while very few young names have emerged from their strong league. Some of these Qatar players might have lost much of their appetite and skills in the last couple of years. A win for Ghalenoei will not be a great achievement against Qatar, but more important than a victory is the overall teamwork, individual performance, and the general attitude of the team. Ghalenoei desperately needs to have the fans and media behind him and a good display against Qatar will be a good starting point.


H / A / NMatchesWDLGoals+ / –
HOME862019 – 4+15
AWAY1593318 – 12+6
NEUTRAL11002 – 1+1
Total24165339 – 17+22


31. Dec.2018FriendlyA2 – 1Khalifa Stadium, Doha2 – 1
* behind closed doors

Current squad scorers against Qatar

Sardar AZMOUN (2)
Mehdi TAREMI (2)
EhsanHAJSAFI (1)

Players rating vs Jordan.

The match against Jordan, despite a 3-1 win, was far from convincing and has resulted in criticism from the media and ex-players. Ghaenoei’s players played ugly yet won against a weak and tactically naive team in Jordan.

Here are the players’ ratings:

1 –Alireza Beiranvand: confident and assured, although he has hardly put to the test thanks to the misfiring Jordanian players. He could not do much about the goal conceded as his defenders made a blunder out of a simple clearance. [7.6]

3-Ehsan Hajisafi: Worked hard and covered well when needed. However, he has lost some of his pace and agility. He was caught off-guard several times. [6.5]
23 Ramin Rezaeian: His fine work on the right flank resulted in Iran’s first goal, however, he was also a savior when he blocked a certain goalbound ball by a Jordanian forward preventing a goal. The shortfall was how easily the Jordainain dribbled past him [7.6]
4 Shojaa Khalilzadeh: Another defender who is short of pace and agility. It is undeniable that this defender gives it 100% on the pitch, but younger more agile, and stronger forwards can easily pass him. One did, in this match, but Shojaa used trickery to hold on to him and for this, he got a yellow card. [6.3]
13 Hossein Kananizadegan: He was guilty of the goal conceded along with Ezaatolahi who could not deal with a simple clearance. He got another yellow card after being dribbled by the Jordanian midfielder and resorting to shirt-pulling to prevent an attack. Not as steady and confident as seen before. Overall an acceptable but below-par performance. [6.1]

21 Ahmad Noorollahi: Hardly showed up in this match and hardly supported the front line. Whatever is holding up Noorollahi must be addressed by the coaching staff [5]
6 Saeid Ezzatolahi: by far the poorest of all the players on the pitch. He has hardly contributed to any of the goals and was lost in the midfield. He stumbled on the ball and clashed with Kananizadegan in the box to give away the goal. This is not the first time that Ezzatolahi has played such poorly The enigma is how is this player maintaining his place in the starting lineup with such poor performances. [3.5]
19 Mohammad Mohebi: Disappointing performance from a promising player. He had no contribution in any of the three goals scored and generally lacked enthusiasm and drive [5.5]

9 Mehdi Taremi: Scored and provided an assist. One cannot ask for more than that from a player of his caliber, however, he could have contributed more and scored at least one more goal. [7.9]
20 Sardar Azmoun: Scored a beautiful opener with a side foot-half volley. His one-on-one in the second half, where a player of his standard should have easily scored, was a black mark. Much better finishing and control were expected from him in that missed opportunity. [7.8]
7 Alireza Jahanbakhsh: Another player who was disappointing and a point of concern for the team. There are considerable expectations from Jahanabakhsh in the AFC Asian Cup, but so far this year, he has been a shadow of himself. Lack of confidence, hesitancy, inability to create chances for the forwards, and many more shortfalls marred his game against Jordan. Another player that needs to be analyzed and coached. [4.5]


Rouzbeh Cheshmi: Replaced Noorollahi in the second half and managed to slightly improve the center, but Jordan was having the best of time leaving Cheshmi to be confined. Provided a beautiful assist to Mehrdad Mohammadi for Iran’s third goal. [7.3]

Saman Ghoddos: Replaced Azmoun on minute 67′. A classy player and possibly the only one in the midfield with vision and finesse. However, His contribution was overshadowed by the Jordanian forcefully pressing Iran to look for goals. He was confined to defensive duties. [6.5]

Mehrdad Mohammadi: came in to replace the dysfunctional Jahanbakhsh. He scored with a beautiful chip in the dying minutes of the match despite lacking support from the midfield [7.8]

Morteza Pouraliganji: Not rated

Coach: Amir Ghalenoei: If the former Esteghlal and Sepahan coach looks to repeat his success at the club level, he needs to be much more aggressive in many areas. He also needs to be more adventurous. Must ensure the team plays as a group and must work on improving the defense and Midfield as they could be the source of Team Melli’s failure. His substitutions were fine and yielded results. Faced with an aging squad, Ghalenoei needs a major tactical adjustment.

Iran-Angola : Match preview

Team Melli will face Angola in the second match of FIFA Day of September in front of empty seats at the aging Azadi Stadium on Tuesday evening.

As part of preparation for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 in Qatar, Amir Ghalenoei will have another opportunity to have a closer look at the players and perhaps engage in some tactical and personnel changes against Angola.

Against Bulgaria, which Iran won by a solitary goal of Mohammad Mohebi, the signs were positive with the team playing silky smooth football with lots of inter-passing and players finding their teammates easily. If there was a criticism. it was the profligacy of the players and poor finishing touch on fine moves.

Today at the Azadi stadium, still undergoing maintenance and building work, it is highly unlikely that Ghalenoei will embark on major changes. The team he inherited from his predecessors Queiroz and Skocis will be fundamentally his main players all the way to the AFC Asian Cup. Introducing new players, even from the Omid team, will only be done as a token measure. In fact, Iran’s local league is of poor quality limiting Ghalenoei’s choices. He will be challenged to find many good players.

The hope and expectation from Ghalenoei, however, is to be more adventurous and introduce an attractive football to ease the pain of Queiroz’s legacy which was built on a solid defense.

As observed from the last match against Bulgaria, Team Melli still has that solid defensive structure, but that can be tested against better teams like what the England Team did in the World Cup 2022. The fear always remains that tactical discipline can break down at any time. Japan at the semi-final of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 is a classic example.

The surprise and the disappointment were in the offensive line, however. It was a profligate, sluggish, and lethargic display by the front line, with Taremi being a shadow of himself against Bulgaria. In the absence of Azmoun, the lineup accommodated one central forward and a pseudo-forward in Mohebbi. The FC Rostov player played well but Moghanlou, introduced in the second half seems to be lost and really not worthy of a place in Team Melli, despite his good work for the club. It remains to be seen how Ghalenoei’s loyalty will be tested with this player. There are many other options available for Ghalenoi to replace Moghanlou notably, Allahyar Sayyadmanish.

The midfield still remains a concern with a lack of quality and pace. Saman Ghoddos was surprisingly excellent against Bulgaria despite a lack of match practice. That was one positive sign for the midfield.

Angola has experienced a significant decline in recent years. It is currently ranked 116th in the FIFA ranking and 27th in the African continent. Angola has only advanced to the quarter-final stage twice in its eight appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations. Among the teams that have faced Iran since the beginning of the Amir Ghalenoei era, Angola is only ranked better than Afghanistan which Iran defeated 6-1, and even this team is 52 places lower than Cape Verde, which was supposed to originally face Iran.

Since the beginning of 2023, Angola has recorded two wins, two draws and two losses in six games and recently participated in the Cosafa Cup (Cup of Southern African Nations) with a team of selected players from its league and withdrew from the competition in the group stage. Pedro Gonsalos, the 47-year-old Portuguese head coach, who has a history of playing in the youth teams of Sporting Lisbon and the under-17 and under-20 national teams of Angola, is currently in charge.

This team hosted Madagascar in the final round of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on Thursday night, and the game ended in a goalless draw to finish second with 9 points after Ghana.

Reza Asadi called back by his club from Team Melli camp.

At the request of Sepahan Club to the president of FFIRI , the head coach of Team Melli agreed to release the midfielder Reza Asadi from national team duties and leave the camp just before departure to Bulgaria for the friendly match.

The midfielder left after two days of training with the squad.

Iran’s national football team left the country on Monday morning, while Asadi headed to Esfahan.

The Sepahan midfielder, who managed to score four times by the end of the fourth week, was prematurely removed from the list for the match against Bulgaria for the rumors mills to start churning,

However, there is a logical explanation for this move hat came from Mehr News. According to their sports reporter, Sepahan requested the release of two players from Team Melli camp, Asadi and Payam Niazmand in a letter sent to the Football Federation. The reason for such request is the upcoming friendly game between Sepahan and Zenit St. Petersburg.

In the text of Sepahan club’s letter, which was signed by Mohammad Reza Saket and handed over to Mehdi Taj, the club reminded FFIRI of the presence of eight Sepahan players in the Omid and Team Melli ranks. These two players are needed for the friendly match with Zenit St. Petersburg.

The request was handed over to Amir Ghalnoei for his final decision. The head coach of Team Melli agreed to release one rather than two players and the choice was Asadi.

It is worth noting that Sepahan players Payam Niazmand, Ramin Rezaeian, Mohammad Daneshgar and Shahriar Moghanlou also stayed in the Team Melli camp and flew to Bulgaria with the rest of the squad.

The match between Iran and Bulgaria will be held on Thursday 7th, September at the Hristo Botev Stadium in Plovdiv.

Azizi and Afazeli join Team Melli coaching staff.

According to Mehr news agency, The Iranian football federation FFIRI approved the proposal by Team Melli head coach, Amir Ghalenoei to add Khodadad Azizi and Houman Afazeli to the team’s coaching staff as technical advisors with immediate effect.

After an illustrious playing career starting in Mashad for Abomoslem and then moving on to the Persepolis, the Bundesliga club, 1. FC Köln, San Jose Earthquakes in the USA, Al-Nasr (UAE), and the Austrian side Admira Wacker, Azizi took to coaching. The fast winger never replicated his success on the field while he was on the bench of Abo Moslem, Payam Khorasan, Esteghlal Ahvaz, and Shahrdari Tabriz. He hardly completed a full season with any club as a coach.

Houman Afazeli had previous coaching experience at Team Melli when he was appointed as a technical advisor and analyst. He also coached several second-tier clubs in Iran’s second division.

The challenge ahead for Ghalenoei.

Less than 20 days to go for Amir Ghalenoei’s next trial with Team Melli when the squad travels to meet Bulgaria for a friendly match in Hristo Botev Stadium in Plovdiv. Following that, if we believe FFIRI officials, there will be another friendly international against Angola in the Azadi stadium which is undergoing heavy maintenance!

So far, Ghalenoei’s second stint with Iran has been quite successful. Taking part in CAFA Nation Cup was quite effective, victorious, and a morale-boosting exercise for the squad as a whole. Never mind all those critics, who believe that Iran should only play the likes of Argentine, Brazil, Spain, and England rather than Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. It is a combination of ignorance and arrogance that has marred Iranian football for years and is one of the factors that have resulted in the regression of standards. We all know what happened last time Iran met England, right?

Arranging the two friendlies in FIFA Day was an excellent effort by FFIRI, which has been nothing short of a political comic show for years run by dubious characters injected by the regime to serve its political doctrine. We have had very little compliment to offer those men in FFIRI, but arranging the friendlies, playing in CAFA Nations Cup and the Jordan 4 side tournament in the critical time before the AFC Asian Cup 2023, is a fine job and credit must be given to the decision-makers.   

Ghalenoei, then, will have little excuse to complain about the lack of preparations. Although nothing runs smoothly in Iran, at least there are enough matches to give the coaching staff a pretty good idea of whom to play and whom to leave out. Undoubtedly, there will be complaints during the camp as the National Training Centre where the team will be residing, has lots of problems highlighted by other sporting teams.

Ghalenoei, like coaches before him, has inherited a team, that has no shortage of talent, experience, and quality despite some sensitive divisive issues. Apparently, there is still some bitterness between the two camps of players during the Dragan Skocic removal saga. That aside, Ghalenoei has to deal with more pressing issues.

The squad is getting old and that was apparent in the last World Cup. Only one player is under 25, while many have gone over that critical 30 years line. The direct impact of an aging team is, of course, stamina and pace. Historically, Iranian teams for some odd reasons, never had a good pace in their sides. Players like Khodadad Azizi, Mehdi Mahdavikia, and before them, legends like Hassan Rowshan  were the odd ones out and are not in abundance in Iranian football these days. That is a big disadvantage, that Ghalenoei can do little about in the coming period. Teams like Japan and Korea, with a combination of pace and skill, can be a serious threat to the laggard Iranians.

While Team Melli is well endowed in defense and offense and to a certain extent, goalkeeping, it is the middle of the field where Team Melli falls short of the opposition. Saeid Ezatollahi and Saman Ghoddos have been big disappointments, especially the former. Amiri is aging and not a 90-minute player, Nourollahi and Gholizadeh huff and puff but never manage to take a game by the scruff of the neck, Hajsafy in his dynamic roles, sometimes in defense and sometimes midfield, is also suffering from a lack of pace and stamina. That leaves Jahanbakhsh and Mohebbi as the two players in the middle of the field, and flanks, who must take this heavy burden of supporting the forwards. Both are essentially attacking players.

There is no creative midfielder in this current Iranian team. Even if Ghalenoei tried to introduce such quality in midfield, he will have a hard time finding such talent in a league that lacks quality, creativity, and inspiration.

While expecting a major facelift in Team Melli in less than 5 months is unreasonable, the building period for future Team Melli has to start after the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. But for now, it is a sure bet that Ghalenoei will not contemplate any major changes. Like any other coach, he might prefer players that can serve his purpose and tactics, so we will not be shocked by excluding some current Team Melli starters come the Asian Cup 2023.

It is essential that Ghalenoei does not lose control of the discipline and make an example of players like Kananizadegan whose childish antics were in front of all to see. Losing such control could be the Achilles Heel of the squad.