Tag: Amir Ghalehnoei

Team Melli puts five past Turkmenistan

Team Melli, showcased an exceptional performance as they triumphed 5-0 over Turkmenistan in the thrilling encounter at Azadi Stadium in Tehran, marking the third round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers within Group E.

Led by the proficient officiating of Japan’s Yusuke Araki, the match unfolded with Iran’s dominance evident from the onset. Ranked 20th globally, Iran swiftly asserted their superiority over Turkmenistan, solidifying their leading position in the group.

The scoring spree commenced in the 10th minute, orchestrated by Mohammad Hossein Kananizadegan, who soared high to connect with Saleh Hardani’s precise cross, netting Iran’s opening goal. Sardar Azmoun, demonstrating exceptional composure, extended the lead merely three minutes later, capitalizing on Taremi’s adept pass to find the back of the net past Turkmenistan’s custodian, Rustem Ahallyýew.

Although Iran maintained control throughout the match, the intensity of their attacks waned as the first half progressed, with the scoreline freezing at 2-0 in favor of Iran by halftime. The departure of Sardar Azmoun due to injury at the cusp of halftime saw Omid Nourafkan take the field in the second half, bringing fresh energy to Iran’s offensive maneuvers.

Resuming the onslaught in the second half, Hossein Kananizadegan showcased his prowess once more, securing his brace and Iran’s third goal with a determined finish amidst the chaos in Turkmenistan’s penalty area. The relentless pressure continued as Taremi assisted Mohebbi in the 56th minute, further widening the goal margin to 4-0 in Iran’s favor.

In the dying embers of the match, substitute Omid Nourafkan seized the moment, unleashing a stunning strike from outside the box, clinching Iran’s fifth goal. Despite Nourafkan’s earlier attempts being thwarted by Turkmenistan’s resilient goalkeeper, Rustem Ahallyýew, his perseverance ultimately paid off in a spectacular fashion.

Moreover, the match witnessed the promising debut of two young talents, Amin Hizbavi, who featured in the starting lineup, and Mohammad Reza Azadi, who made a notable impact coming off the bench. Additionally, the return of Sayyadmanesh and Saleh Hardani added depth and energy to Iran’s squad, further enhancing their formidable stature on the international stage.

Iran now leads the group and will play Turkmenistan away next.

Squad announced for Turkmenistan matches.

Iran’s national football team will face Turkmenistan in the preliminary stage of the World Cup on 21st March in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. This match will be held at 19:30. Iran’s national football team will play the first leg against Turkmenistan on the 21st and then will travel to play away in Turkmenistan on March 26th

Iran is in Group E of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers along with Uzbekistan, Hong Kong, and Turkmenistan. The names of the players invited to the squad for this match were announced by head coach Amir Ghalenoei as follows:


Alireza Beiranvand, Payam Niazmand, Seyed Hossein Hosseini, Aria Shakouri


Shoja Khalilzadeh, Hossein Kanaanizadegan, Amin Hizbavi, Saman Fallah, Ramin Rezaeian, Saleh Hardani, Milad Mohammadi, Abolfazl Jalali, Hossein Goudarzi


Omid Nourafkan, Saman Ghoddos Saeed Ezzatollahi, Mohammad Ghorbani, Ali Gholizadeh, Allhayar Sayyadmanesh, Mehdi Limuchi, Mehdi Torabi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh


Mehdi Taremi, Javad Aghaeipour, Sardar Azmoun, Mohammad Reza Azadi , Saeed Saharkhizan , Mohammad Mohebi, Mehdi Ghaeydi,

Team Melli sweats it to narrowly defeat Hong Kong!

Team Melli beat Hong Kong 1-0 in its second match of Group C of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

The only goal of the match was scored by Mehdi Ghayedi in the 24th minute. With this win, Iran has 6 points and is leading the group ahead of UAE with 4 points. The group decider will be against the UAE where Team Mlli needs one point to maintain the top position in the group while the UAE has to win to lead Group C.

In one of the worst performances by Team Melli in recent times, the Ghalenoei team was weak in every aspect of the professional game. Be it the passing, mental agility, tactical discipline, tackling, man marking and agility.

Since Ghalenoei is the responsible person for selecting the players to start the match and for the game plan, it was a bad mark for the Head Coach who has yet to taste defeat since he took over more than a year ago. These days have an eerily remanence of his last time at the helm of Team Melli in 2006 to 2007 ., where the team was performing near perfection until he fell in the last hurdle against South Korea in the Penalty kicks at the quarter-final of the Asian Cup 2007. Most of the criticism back then was targeted at Ghalenoei as he was accused of failing to instill discipline in his team with players acting up in the penalty kicks amongst other shortfalls in the Asian Cup 2007.

In this match, the fans were expecting a bonanza of goals, or at least as many as the team scored against Palestine last time out. But instead, and from kick-off, it seemed that the engines of Team Melli lacked oiling, perhaps needing a major overhaul.

One positive aspect of Ghalenoei’s selection is the replacement of Ezatollahi with the much more versatile Cheshmi, despite a few initial errors at the beginning of the game by the Esteghlal holding midfielder. But most of the problems were in Saman Ghoddos who was the MVP of the last game, but in this one, he decided to have a day off! His passing, vision, and dynamism were truly lacking. There was no help from Jahanbakhsh either, Ghaedi was perhaps the only bright star of the whole team and his goal was a testament to his enterprise and energy.

Mehdi Taremi has not done anything to mitigate the fears of the fans who believe that he is not a man for big occasions. Taremi, regrettably, is looking like an amateur league player in Team Melli Jersey. He has yet to score or provide an assist in the last two matches. He seemed to be unaware of Shahriyar Moghanlou’s existence in the same team or maybe they were not on speaking terms. There was little passing and understanding between the two forwards. That in itself brings on the question of why Moghanlou if Azmoun is fit and ready.? Nothing of worth came from Jahanbakhsh either.

If that was bad, the worst line of the team was undoubtedly the defense line. How lucky Team Melli was in facing a team that could not shoot straight in Hong Kong? From the shakey Beiranvand to the clumsy Kanani, and wayward Mohammadi, to the disorganization and lack of understanding between the players in a systematic defense, all those were a recipe for disaster. Hong Kong, despite the gallant attempts, just lacked the quality to take advantage of all the gifts awarded to them by the benevolent Team Melli defense.

Iran’s defense is truly on shaky ground. They were supposed to have an easy day out supplementing the offensive line, but the reality is that they were quite lucky not to concede goals. That might not be the case next time or in the knockout stages where it is quite likely that defensive blunders will cost Team Melli dearly.

Ghalneoei himself did not fare well either. He was visibly angry on the bench and at times covering his face in embarrassment. If we have to go by the cliche about ‘Second Halves’ being the coach’s half, then the Norwegian Jorn Andersen beat Ghalenoei hands down. He skillfully reorganized his team in the second half, found the weakness of the Iran team, and tightened his central defense while exerting pressure on the flanks to prevent danger from Iranian wingers and half-backs., The only thing that he fell short of, as mentioned before, was the lack of finishers in his team in front of the Iran goal.

Hong Kong has to be credited for this performance.

Ali Daei turns down Team Melli head coach post for the umpteen time.

After the drama of sacking Dragan Skocic and the theatrics of the FFIRI management, Ali Daei once again categorically refused to head coach Team Melli under current management and the shabby situation of the team.

Ali Daei, Javad Nekounam, and Amir Ghalenoui are the front runners to replace the sacked Team Melli coach to lead the team in difficult conditions in the 2022 World Cup, Among the candidates, Ali Daei was identified as the most suitable option.

However, the former head coach of Team Melli, who has been giving negative answers to all domestic and foreign offers for several years, was once again approached by the Football Federation, and once again he turned it down with an emphatic “No”.
One of the football federation officials confirmed Daei’s refusal in a conversation with Mehr reporter. “Daei has not agreed to replace Skocic in the current situation and has asked the officials of the football federation to consider this issue as finished and not to think about his presence on the bench of the national team.” Therefore, Ali Daei’s presence as the head coach of Iran’s national team in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is ruled out, and the football federation must look at its other internal options.

Daei seems to have learned his lesson and was wise enough to distance himself from this management and federation. The situation for Team Melli is critical and the chance of making a challenge for the two top spots in the group against the likes of England, Wales, and USA is becoming even more difficult now than before.

Daei knows very well that the lack of resources and leadership in Iran’s football plus the political interference from the government will make his task nearly impossible. The strong character of Daei and his fearless no-nonsense attitude will be impossible for the FFIRI and the government too.

Despite the pressure from a number of Team Melli players, the Ministry of Sports, and several members of parliament to reinstate Carlos Queiroz, the Football Federation strongly opposed his return to the bench of Team Melli. So that the head coach of the Iranian national team in the 2014 and 2018 World Cups has little chance to score a hat trick with minimal effort and lead Iran for the third time running in 2022.
The results of the Iranian national volleyball team with Behrouz Atai, the Iranian head coach of this team, caused the football federation to consider and maneuver the proposal of an Iranian coach who has the ability to gather the chaotic atmosphere the Team created by two partizan groups of players. The poor preparation and lack of international preparation matches on FIFA day, also frustrated many players as discontent is rife.

It seems that Mirshad Majdi, after consulting with some FFIRI Board Members has opted for a domestic option. Ghalenoui, like Daei, is also wise enough and cannot seriously entertain the idea of coaching Team Melli.

Javad Nekounam is the only other option. He lacks experience at the international level and has only been a coach for a few years. Despite the risks, it is believed that he will very well accept the challenge and hope for the best. The risk, however, is that a bad performance by Team Melli in Qatar or failure to qualify for the next round will ruin his reputiation career in coaching far too early in his career. He will also be the subject of the wrath of the fans.

No support for Skocic and dead silence in crucial days for Team Melli.

After the successful return of the squad from Bahrain, Azizi-Khadem, the president of the Football Federation commented on Skocic’s contract situation by saying that he should consult with the members of the board of directors of the Federation to come up with a decision!

After these incomprehensible and dumb words of the president, we no longer saw any official reaction;  except for the comments of the national team media director in an interview, in which he did not offer any sign of support to Skocic not even applauding his achievement!!

It seems like FFIRI either wants to force Skocic to withdraw from the contract negotiation or wait for the draw for the next qualifying round of the World Cup when Iran’s opponents will be known and thereafter evaluate if an extension of the contract with Skocic is worthwhile. That is precisely the reason why Carlos Queiroz’s rumors of a return to his old job are not explicitly denied by the Football Federation, according to some informed sources.

 In terms of domestic options, it does not seem that Yahya Golmohammadi or Amir Ghalehnoei, who have a multitude of problems in their own teams these days, will be candidates for the Team Melli bench. The only domestic option that remains in contention is that of Ali Daei, but it is not possible to determine his willingness to take the job with certainty. Common sense, however, dictates that the first choice of the FFIRI for Team Melli is Mr. Skocic.

These days, most of the fans and experts expect the Football Federation to renew Skocic’s contract, but on the other hand, no one knows what Dragan’s offers to extend the contract to the federation are. No one knows the amount he demanded from Azizi Khadem, no one knows how long he has planned for his contract.

It is only immense wishful thinking to expect proper organization and advanced planning of such an important appointment as Head Coach of Team Melli.  In Germany, the successor of Lowe in the national team (Mannschaft) is already known months ahead. No suspense, no drama, no under-the-table payment, no agent fees, and nothing but the interest of the National Team and the country. In Iran, that will be a miracle if such things occur. American Sanctions is such a good excuse for their incompetence, inadequacy, and lack of proffecency, they will revert to it if things fall apart.