Tag: Australia

Who will lift the AFC Asian Cup 2023?

Predicting the team that will lift the AFC Asian Cup is not something that has any value at this stage as football, time and again, has proven to be a strange game, full of surprises, and winning a title in the most prestigious tournament can have twists and turns that not even the best analyst can predict.

However, what can be said makes sense is the ranking and performance of the teams beforehand and the expected results based on the earlier performance.

Japan: Without a shadow of a doubt, Japan sits right at the top of the ranking and their chances of lifting the trophy for the fourth time are quite high. Not only did the Japanese perform well at the Asian level, they even managed to beat the best of Europe in their own home. A 4-1 result against Germany will stand as a monument of the might of the Japanese and the resilience, power, and strength of depth of this team. Japan also put 4 past Turkey and Canada also beat Tunisia 2-0. Before that Japan toyed with El Salvador beating them 6-0 and five days later Japan gave Peru a lesson in football with a 4-1 win just before humiliating Germany 4-1.

It does not take much expertise to predict that Japan is the team to beat. that is easier said than done.


Coach: Hajime Moriyasu (from 2018-)

Injured or Suspect Players: Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal) – Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)


Odds: 1 : 3.2


South Korea has a star-studded squad, and by the virtue of having perhaps the best Asian footballer in Son Heung-Min, the chances of this team are only second to Japan. Despite their results not matching the greatness of Japan, they are still a powerful team with a great military-like discipline that has a lot to say in Qatar. They have demonstrated their strength against Iran and can surprise any of the teams. The recent appointment of the German Jurgen Klinsmann and and former hero Ch Du-ri as an assistant and perhaps an interpreter as Cha is fluent in German, shows that the Korean FA are determined to seriously challenge for the title that eluded them since 1956. A strong team with many stars playing in Europe the Koreans are confident that this might be their year.


Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann (from 2023)

Injured or Suspect Players: NONE


3/10/23FRIKorea Republic4 – 0Tunisia
17/10/23FRIKorea Republic6 – 0Vietnam
16/11/23AWCKorea Republic5 – 0Singapore
21/11/23AWCChina PR0 – 3Korea Republic
06/01/24FRIIraq0 – 1Korea Republic

Odds: 1 : 5.5


Iran, under Amir Ghalenoei, has proven to be one of the strongest in Asia and a difficult team to beat. Despite a few problems and shortfalls the team has enough talent to seriously challenge the likes of Japan and South Korea. In Azmoun and Taremi, Iran has a prolific duo up front not matched by any other Asian team. A near-half-century wait to lift the Asian Cup will give the Persians the greatest motive in making this tournament one to remember for the Iranian Fans.


Coach: Amir Ghalenoei (from 2022)

Injured or Suspect Players: Ramin Rezaeian (under treatment)


17/10/23FRIQatar0 – 4IR Iran
16/11/23AWCIR Iran4 – 0Hong Kong, China
21/11/23AWCUzbekistan2 – 2IR Iran
05/01/24FRIIR Iran2 – 1Burkina Faso
09/01/24FRIIndonesia0 – 5IR Iran

Odds: 1:8


Australia, a powerhouse in Asian football a team that has already lifted the title once at home in 2015. The Socceroos is still a force to be reckoned with in this year’s edition. The Socceroos are a mix of experienced and young players with 19 of the 26 currently plying trade in European leagues while only four are playing in the domestic A-League. The remaining three play in Japan and Saudi Arabia.


Coach: Graham Arnold (from 2018)

Injured or Suspect Players: None


13/10/23FRIEngland1 – 0Australia
17/10/23FRIAustralia2 – 0New Zealand
16/11/23AWCAustralia7 – 0Bangladesh
21/11/23AWCPalestine0 – 1Australia
06/01/24FRIBahrain0 – 2Australia

Odds: 1:6.5


Saudi Arabia: Conquerors of Argentina in the group stage at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Saudi Arabia are is on nearly equal terms in challenging for the trophy with Iran and Australia.

The Saudi Pro League underwent a huge transformation in 2023 with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane, and Neymar headlining an importation of talent that lifted the competition to a new level. That uplift will, in turn, have had a trickle-down effect on the Saudi players already plying their trade in the league. The recruitment of the most expensive coach in the tournament shows how the Saudi Government is determined to win this Asian Cup. Surprisingly, the last two friendly matches against Hong Kong and Palestine, both Team Mellio opponents at the group stages, were less than convincing.


Coach: Roberto Mancini (from 2023)

Injured or Suspect Players: None


16/11/23AWCSaudi Arabia4 – 0Pakistan
21/11/23AWCJordan0 – 2Saudi Arabia
04/01/24FRISaudi Arabia1 – 0Lebanon
09/01/24FRISaudi Arabia0 – 0Palestine
10/01/24FRISaudi Arabia2 – 0Hong Kong

Odds: 1:8


Uzbekistan intends to gate-crash the party. The Central Asian teams have seen a big stride in football from youth to senior level. In this third stint at the helm of an Asian nation, Katanec will be — at the very least — looking to achieve with Uzbekistan what he managed with Iraq at the 2019 Asian Cup, when he led his former side to the round of 16 before they were beaten by eventual champions Qatar. The team has many young players augmenting the experiences of the likes of Eldor Shomurodov a player who has been the best in Uzbekistan football in the last few years.

Qatar: The Defending Champions and Host is considered an outsider. The Team has suffered under the Carlos Queiroz regime. The Qatari selectors failed in their due diligence in picking Queiroz who is a devotee of defensive football while the Qatari Team has always thrived in their attacking mentality. That marriage did not last long and now Qatar under a new head coach Tintin Márquez has a mountain to climb. An experienced Spaniard drafted in from Qatar Stars League side Al Wakrah, Márquez was appointed less than a month out from the Asian Cup after the Qatar FA sacked former Real Madrid boss Carlos Queiroz.

Age factor in AFC Asian Cup 2023

It is hardly surprising that Team Melli, one of the contenders for lifting the AFC Asian Cup, has the highest average age among the teams who are also laying a claim for the prestigious continental title.

The AFC Asian Cup 2023, which was originally scheduled to be held in China, will instead start in Qatar in a fortnight after a year delay as Iran will take on Palestine in its first match.

Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia in addition to Iran are traditionally among the strongest contenders for the championship in Asia, while Uzbekistan and host Qatar, can be included among the contenders. In the 27-man list that Amir Ghalenoei has published, there are a few names added, but it is doubtful if any one of them will feature in the upcoming matches.

Team Melli will only have a cosmetic change as the structure has remained quite exclusive since the 2018 World Cup until today. In fact, two aging players Omid Ebrahimi and Karim Ansarifard are part of the squad after being out for some time.

Much has been said about the aging Team Melli and the reluctance of Ghalenoei to introduce younger and promising players on the pretense of a shortage of time! however, it is interesting to compare the average age of other teams to find if younger age claims translate to success.

There is no doubt that Japan is the team to beat in this tournament. They have the strongest and most feared team that has beaten the likes of Germany amongst many other teams. Among these seven top contenders, the Japanese national football team is the youngest average age of 25.1 years. Uzbekistan is 25.68 years, Saudi Arabia is the third with 26 years and Australians follow at 26.15, while South Korea has an average age of 27.8 and Qatar with an average of 27.9 years (see table below)

The average age of the players of the Iranian national team is 28.6 years, which is the highest compared to the other five contenders.

Amir Ghalenoei once again has drawn the line on the names of young players, including Mohammad Amin Hizbavi, Abolfazl Jalali, Allahyar Sayadmanesh, Saeed Saharkhizan, and others, preferring experienced and seasoned players. Although the age of players is one factor for a victorious team, it is by no means the only factor.

It has been a tradition amongst the Iranian coaches to stick to a group of few players that they can rely on. That is painfully clear at club levels, however, at the international level within a short period where the teams play an average of a game every three or four days, that could become a liability, especially with older players who do not have the energy to be involved in intense competitions.

#TeamAverage Age23 & below30 & above
3Saudi Arabia2694
5Korea Rep.27.8410
Players Average Age

Iran U20 loses to Australia

the-afc.com – Fergana:
Australia held off a late fightback from IIran to win 3-2, reviving their hopes of advancing from Group B of the AFC U20 AFC Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 on Saturday.
The win means Australia are back in the race for a quarter-final spot after having lost their opener to Vietnam while Iran’s defeat means they will have to do it the hard after failing to build on their victory against Qatar.
Australia, who were aiming to bounce back from their opening day defeat to Vietnam, were almost caught napping seconds into the start when Panashe Madanha failed to clear a dangerous ball which allowed Farhad Zavoshi to stab in a shot but keeper Jack Warshawsky was up to the challenge.
Australia, however, found the breakthrough in the eighth minute when Adrian Segecic released Jed Drew, who in turn fed Aidan Simmons to strike home from close range.
Iran struggled to find their rhythm with Ghorbani barely threatening the Australian backline and the Central Asian side conceded again in the 19th minute.
Australia’s second was spectacular with Segecic squeezing in his free-kick into the bottom left corner, with Iran keeper Adib Zarei left with no chance.
Iran came back fighting and reduced the deficit in the 25th minute with Amirreza Eslamtalab finishing off Mersad Seifi’s cross from the left flank.
Iran almost drew level in the closing seconds of the first half with Ghorbani finding space on the turn before forcing Zarei into a fine save.
Australia were quick off the blocks at the start of the second half and made it 3-1 in the 46th minute, thanks to a well crafted move set up by Alessandro Lopane, who started at the centre before supplying a cutback for Segecic (pictured above, left) to finish.
Iran, desperate to get back into the game, almost replied with an effort of their own moments later with Eslamtalab striking the ball from a tight angle, forcing Warshawsky into a one-handed save.
Australia wasted opportunities to further their advantage in the 67th minute with Drew finishing tamely from the centre of the box before Bernando Oliveira saw his shot saved in the 79th minute.
Iran reduced the deficit in the 80th minute off Alireza Enayatzadeh’s strike from inside the box but Australia stood firm to seal the win and revive their hopes.
Australia will meet Qatar on Tuesday with Iran to face Vietnam.

Iran U20 starts AFC Asian Cup 2023 with victory.

Iran’s U20 team started the AFC U20 Asian Cup 2023 with a positive win against Qatar in Istiqlol Stadium, Fergana.

The only goal of the match came from a penalty that was beautifully struck by Amin Hezbavi in the 65th minute.

Despite the close result, Iran’s U20 dominated the field and was the team most likely to score but for a series of brilliant saves from Qatar Keeper Amir Hassan and some lax finishing by the Iranian players.

In the first half, Iran’s players in their all-white kit started the game aggressively and could have opened Qatar’s goal in the first few minutes, but the Qatari goalkeeper displayed brilliant reflexes to deny the Iranians players. Despite the fact that Iran was the better team in the first half and had many opportunities to score , the half ended in a goalless draw.

In the second half, Samad Marfavi’s players’ stepped up a notch or two and were on the move from the start. The team was more settled and played some beautiful football too.  Qatar were denied any opportunity until the last minute of the injury time when Iran’s keeper Adib Zarei made a finger-tip save to deny Qatar an undeserved equalizer.

While the Iranian team was careful not to fall prey to the Qataris’ quick counter-attacks and opportunism, they continued pressing the Qataris until they were awarded a penalty. In the 65th minute of this match, Iran finally took the lead and scored the winning goal on a penalty kick by Amin Hizbavipour.

Iran always looked the better side in control limiting Qatar to the occasional attacks which bore no fruit for the Marooni of Qatar.

While the team looked side physically and technically with an added bonus of individual skills, There were however those perennial shortfalls in Iranian players, like slowness, poor finishing, wastefulness, and mental strength. These are fundamental weaknesses that have their origin in grassroots football as the result of poor infrastructure, antiquated basic training methods from early ages, and poor tactical discipline. A coach such as Samad Marfavi can do so much in the short span of time that he has with the group to prepare a team for a major championship, however, he must be commended on the fine display by this Javanan team.

Next Match

on Saturday, the 13th of March, Iran will meet Australia at 15:00 local time and  (13:30 Tehran).  The Australians lost their first match against Vietnam in the match earlier.

Group B Standing

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1  Vietnam 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
2  Iran 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
3  Australia 1 0 0 1 0 1 −1 0
4  Qatar 1 0 0 1 0 1 −1 0



# Pos Player Name Date of birth (age) Club
1 GK Mohammad Khalifeh 19 August 2004(age 18) Persepolis
12 GK Adib Zarei 19 January 2004(age 19) Shahin
22 GK Mohammad Sadegh Salehi 5 March 2004(age 18) Sepahan
2 DF Milad Kor (captain) 19 October 2003(age 19) tractor
5 DF Mehran Feyzabadi 8 July 2003(age 19) Esteghlal
18 DF Ali Akbar Ranjbar 2 February 2004(age 19) Paykan
5 DF Amin Hazbavi 6 May 2003(age 19) Foolad
4 DF Ali rezaei 26 March 2003(age 19) Be’sat Kermanshah
14 DF Mersad Seifi 11 August 2003(age 19) Nassaji Mazandaran
13 DF Amin Pilali 7 January 2003(age 20) kia
6 MF Farhad Zavoshi 8 February 2003(age 20) Havadar
7 MF Hossein Nokhodkar 24 February 2002(age 21) Gol Gohar
8 MF Mohammad HIranossein Zavari 11 January 2001(age 22) Sanat Naft
15 MF Mohammadreza Torabi 18 July 2004(age 18) Esteghlal
16 MF Mohammadreza Bordbar 26 August 2004(age 18) Malavan
21 MF Ahmad Reza Jenadeleh 20 March 2001(age 21) Foolad
23 MF Seyed Reza Mousavian 24 June 2001(age 21) Foolad
9 FW Amir Ebrahimzadeh 31 January 2004(age 19) tractor
19 FW Mojtaba Fakhrian 15 May 2003(age 19) Aluminium Arak
11 FW Salim Toomaj 9 January 2005(age 18) Fenerbahçe
17 FW Amirreza Eslamtalab 30 January 2003(age 20) kia
18 FW Amir Shahim 18 September 2003(age 19) Gol Gohar Sirjan
10 MF Erfan Bagheri 15 December 2003(age 19) kia
20 FW Saeid Saharkhizan 26 January 2003(age 20) Havadar

Iran’s youth final preparation for the AFC U20 Asian Cup.

The AFC U20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023 will start on the first of March 2023, with Iran grouped with Qatar, Australia, and Vietnam in Group B of the competition. The matches will be played in Tashkent and Fergana. Javanan Team (Iran U20) will have its final practice game this afternoon in Tehran against the Pas team.

Iran’s U20 is currently coached by Samad Marfavi who has coached at several club levels including Esteghlal. The Team will be flying directly to Fergana, the venue of the first match versus Qatar on a chartered flight thus avoiding commercial flights which would have taken the squad 23 hours to reach Fergana.

Group B

Qatar, Australia, Vietnam, Iran

This group looks like another tough-looking group that has two former winners in Iran and Qatar, 2010 runners-up Australia and 2016 semi-finalists Vietnam.

Qatar were perfect in Group B of the Qualifiers as they cruised to wins over Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Bahrain, scoring 14 goals and conceding just once.

Iran were equally impressive, topping Group J with nine points while Australia didn’t put a foot wrong either in Group H, also registering three wins.

Vietnam are the odd ones out, sealing their place in the Finals as among the five best runners-up after finishing second in Group F.

The Southeast Asian side, however, have become a force to be reckoned with at all age-group levels, and fans can rest assured there will be no easy matches in Group B.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023 – 19:00 Istiqlol Stadium, Fergana
Qatar Iran
Saturday, 4 March 2023 – 15:00 Istiqlol Stadium, Fergana
Iran Australia
1 March 2023
Tuesday, 7 March 2023 – 15:00 JAR Stadium, Tashkent
Vietnam Iran
Iran won this championship 4 times in a row in 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1976. After the revolution, Iran has failed to win any titles and the drought at the youth level is now at a staggering 47 years!!
Lack of resources, poor preparations, sub-standard organization, and Iranian coaches’ standards have been the Achilles’ heel of Iran’s youth football.
Samad Marfavi, like many other Iranian coaches, has stagnated and lacks knowledge of modern football. The failure of the football federation to prepare a cadre of good domestic ex-footballers to turn into quality coaches by sending them abroad for quality education and coaching seminars has limited the success of Iranian caches. Much of the success of the youth teams evidently is due o individual performances rather than teamwork and quality coaching.
While at this level, the standards of teams are quite close and predictions are difficult, Iran U20 has as good a chance as any of the teams. The physicality of the Iranian players is always a strong point, but the Qatari and Australian teams benefit from quality coaching and long-term career development by their respective football associations, something that the Iranian side lacks in earnest.
This group is a tight call. Iran players need to be strong mentally as much as physically to navigate through the group round.

GK ADIB ZAREI (Shahin Bushehr)

(Fajr Sepasi)
(Iman Sabz Shiraz)
(Sepid Roud Rasht)
(Nassaji Ghaemshahr)

MF ABBAS SHARAFI (GolGohar Sirjan)


AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 draw

Tashkent: The continent’s rising stars are set for exciting tussles following the completion of the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 draw on Wednesday.
The 16 teams were divided into four groups with the top two from each group to advance to the quarter-finals in the March 1 to 18, 2023 showpiece.
Hosts Uzbekistan were placed in Group A alongside Indonesia, Iraq and Syria.
Group B will see Qatar, Australia, Vietnam, and Iran vying for the quarter-final berths while Korean Republic, Tajikistan, Jordan, and Oman are the four teams in Group C.
Group D saw defending champions Saudi Arabia, Japan, China PR, and the Kyrgyz Republic being drawn together.

Youth Competitions Brand Reveal

Besides continental glory, there will be four tickets at stake for the FIFA U20 World Cup 2023, which will return to Asia in Indonesia from May 20 to June 11.
Draw Result
Group A: Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Syria
Group B: Qatar, Australia, Vietnam, Iran
Group C: Korea Republic, Tajikistan, Jordan, Oman
Group D: Saudi Arabia, Japan, China PR, Kyrgyz Republic

Huge embarrassment and chaos in the World Cup Trophy unveiling in Tehran!

Iran’s reputation in events organization and management has once again been tarnished and NOT for the first time either!

The unveiling of the FIFA World Cup Trophy in Tehran could have turned into a real tragedy due to overcrowding, chaos, and poor management by the event presenter.

After touring several countries starting from Australia and Japan, on its way to Saudi Arabia and finally to Europe, Africa, and America, the World Cup Trophy arrived in Iran for the first time. As one of the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, The Iranians were given the opportunity to view the actual trophy.

The ceremony, in which unlimited numbers of guests like veterans, city counselors, and the many representatives from clubs were invited was abruptly cut short in the worst possible and truly embarrassing way. While this event was scheduled about a year ago and the FFIRI was aware that the World Cup Trophy tour is going to be held by passing through all qualified 32 countries, the unveiling ceremony of this trophy in Borj Milad turned into an ugly scene as a result of the wrong decisions of the organizers, and specifically the host of the show.

The shambolic presence of a countless number of people on the stage, all kissing and hugging around the trophy, while others jumped in for selfies and photo shots, became so awful it resembled the crowd in the bazaar. These scenes forced the lady representatives of FIFA, to quickly take the trophy off the stand fearing permanent damage to this expensive and exquisite piece of art.

enough is enough, we are taking the trophy and heading out!

The Lady quickly returned the trophy into a special suitcase and ran out of the hall (picture above)

According to FIFA protocols, the unveiling ceremony of the World Cup Cup was supposed to be held in the presence of six people and by a FIFA representative, but none of these regulations were observed in Iran. Instead,  in direct violation of the protocols and FIFA Guideline for this event, the show host, Javad Khiabani invited a large number of veterans to the stage all at the same time, creating a mess with people squeezing in to find space to stand.

Not satisfied by the crowds already on stage, the presenter invited even more guests to create complete chaos in the conference hall of Milad Tower in Tehran. It was so bad it could have ended in heavy cost financially and morally.

The lack of proper planning for the unveiling of this valuable trophy, which reached Iran for the first time in its 90-year history, led to the bitter words by one of the representatives of the football federation, who accused those present in the hall of “not respecting Iranian culture and customs”. The chaos occurred in the background of Iran repeatedly claiming that it is ready to help Qatar in holding part of the important event of the world cup in Iran and providing assistance and support. The pictures and videos released from the World Cup Trophy unveiling ceremony, however, paint an entirely different picture. Those were proof of the fact that the Iranian football administration is incapable of organizing the simplest of events let alone helping in organizing events such as the World Cup. Lack of respect for protocols and guidelines is one of the biggest failures but not the only one.

It seems that one year was not enough time to do proper planning for the unveiling ceremony, but in the end, this ceremony, which could have gone so smoothly and briefly, turned into a bitter experience of incompetence and disarray highlighting the lack of organization, poor insights, chaotic behavior, lack of respect and tragic poor planning model. Comparing today’s unveiling ceremony in Iran to what happened in Australia and Japan shows a huge difference in the culture, event planning, and organization. There is an obvious ocean between them and Iran.

Four countries compete in hosting AFC Asian Cup 2023

Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has received Expressions of Interest (EoI) from four AFC Member Associations (MAs) to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023™ final competition.
Following the AFC’s invitation to all MAs to express their interest in hosting the flagship men’s national team tournament on May 31, 2022, the following AFC MAs have responded by the extended deadline of July 15, 2022, and expressed their interest to bid for the hosting rights of the AFC Asian Cup 2023™:
·       Football Australia
·       Football Association of Indonesia
·       Korea Football Association
·       Qatar Football Association
In accordance with the bidding process, the Bidding Regulations were distributed to the MAs on June 17, 2022, and the deadline for Bidding MAs to submit the Bid documents is set for August 31, 2022.
Following this, an overall evaluation of the bids will be undertaken by the AFC Administration prior to the selection and announcement of the host for the 24-team competition by the AFC Executive Committee on October 17, 2022.

AFC teams qualified for 3rd Round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

With the end of the games of the second qualifying round of the FIFA  World Cup in Qatar 2022, the name of the teams advancing to the third round of this competition was determined.

Under AFC rules, the top eight teams in each group advanced to the next round with the top four, but North Korea’s withdrawal complicated the equation so that the AFC decided not to count the results of the second teams with the team placed last in the group. Qatar as host of the World Cup, which topped group E, will not be playing in the third round.

The two biggest losers of this round are Kuwait and Uzbekistan. Kuwait has already qualified for the World Cup in 1982 lost to Jordan and Australia. Uzbekistan which has been quite a contender in Asian football was grouped with Saudi Arabia. It lost on the final day and did not make the list of the best five runner-ups.

The draw for the third round will be held at AFC Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday 24th June.

The top teams that made it to the final round of these games are as follows:


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.