Tag: Azmoun

Fourth Team Melli player drops out of squad!

 The defender Majid Hosseini left the Team Melli camp due to a positive PCR test.

According to reports, Turkish club Kayseri Spor player, who joined the camp yesterday, was tested positive, and for this reason, this player left the camp. Hosseini is the fourth player to be infected with the Coronavirus and thus will not be able to accompany Iran in the match against Iraq.

Prior to this Azmoun, Nourollahi and Hajsafi tested positive.

It is expected that Esteghlal defender Aref Aghasi to replace Majidi in the squad.

Team Melli news

 Who will miss the Final Roster?

A look at the possible list of the national team after the vaccination / Who will miss the line?

the initial list of domestic players to be invited to Team Melli, some prominent players will be eliminated from the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Bahrain.

The vaccination of the Iran-based Team Melli players started on Monday, and in the first stage, the staff and executives were vaccinated along with the players playing in the domestic league plus two legionnaires. With that in mind, Skocic has completed his initial roster for Bahrain, and it is unlikely that any more players will be added to the squad, however,  no player has yet been confirmed.Ehsan Haj Safi, Omid Nourafkan, Payam Niazmand, Daniel Ismailifar, Mehdi Ghayedi, Ali Gholizadeh, Kamal Kamiabinia, Kaveh Rezaei, Hossein Kananizadegan, Ahmad Noorollahi, Mehdi Torabi, Vahid Amiri, Akbar Imani, Milad Sarlak, Abolfazl Jalali, Aref Gholami, Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri and Siamak Nemati were the players who received the Corona vaccine.According to this list, some indication of the final list of Dragan Skucic traveling to Bahrain can be speculated. * Continued absence of Vouria Ghafouri and inviting a new right back. With the invitation of Daniel Ismailifar, Sepahan’s right-back, for vaccination, he is the latest player invited by Skocic for this post. The head coach of the national team had previously invited players such as Najarian and Shiri, but it seems that with their failure in previous camps, Ismailifar has been preferred to Vouria Ghafouri and possibly Ramin Rezaian. Siamak Nemati is also another figure in the right-back position. There is also Jafar Salmani in this position, who was made his debut against Syria and will probably be added to the squad.
Hamed Lak is out of Luck!

In the previous squad, with the absence of Abedzadeh due to travel restrictions in Portugal, as well as Rashid Mazaheri, being diagnosed positive with Cormona,  Hamed Lak was added, but after about a month from the national team camp, Hamed Lak was eliminated. And Mazaheri received the vaccine along with Payam Niazmand.

Of course, given that Abedzadeh and Beiranvand are likely to be called up after the conclusion of the Belgian and Portuguese leagues, it remains to be seen which of the four goalkeepers Skocic will cross.

* League top scorer is out

With quite a heavy traffic on the team’s offensive line, Sajjad Shahbazadeh was unable to convince Skocis that he is worthy of Team Melli jersey. The League Top scorer, replaced Ghayedi in the previous camp as the Esteghlal forward contracted  Corona, but he did not get the opportunity to play against Syria.

* Choose 23 players from 36 people!

Currently, 16 domestic players along with Ali Gholizadeh and Kaveh Rezaei are in Skocic’s initial list. On the other hand, legionnaires such as Alireza Beiranvand, Milad Mohammadi, Morteza Pourali Ganji, Sadegh Moharremi, Seyed Majid Hosseini, Allahyar Sayadmanesh, Mehdi Taremi, Amir Abedzadeh, Jafar Salmani, Sardar Azmoun, Saeed Ezatollahi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Saman Ghodos, Omid Ebrahimi, Ali Karimi, Shoja Khalilzadeh and Karim Ansari-Fard are the players invited to the previous camps by Skocic. The legionnaires’ number is 18 which makes a total of 36 players currently available for Skocic.

In the last camp, 12 legionnaires were present and it was announced that due to the COVID19 conditions, it was not possible to invite Ghodod, Jahanbakhsh, and Abedzadeh due to flight restrictions, Pourali Ganji and Moharrami were not invited due to injuries and Kaveh Rezaei was tested positive for coronae. The number of Legionnaire players considered by Skocic reaches 18.

Eventually, Skocic will have to announce the names of 23 players to play in Bahrain, which will remove about 13 players from the starting lineup.

* Worrying days for Team Melli players

A look at the situation of ready players inside and outside Iran shows that the head coach must cross some famous players in all the lines. There are currently several goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and strikers on the list, each of whom is a key player in their own teams.

For example, there is heavy traffic on the offensive line. Currently, Azmoun, Tarmi, Ansarifard, Rezaei, Sayadmanesh and Ghaedi are the forwards available for Team Melli. It remains to be seen which of these forwards Skocis will choose. The Chances of Rezaei and Sayyadmanish will be slim.

In the defense, PourAli Ganji, Hosseini, Kananizadegan, Khalilzadeh, and Gholami are the five central defenders who are in the preliminary list and one person will definitely miss the line. Most probably that player will be Gholami whose club Esteghlal was one of the worst defensive teams in the AFC Champions League.

In the midfield, Kamiabinia and Sarlak have entered the preliminary list for the first time. Also, Omid Ebrahimi, Ahmad Noorollahi, Ali Karimi, Omid Nourafkan, Vahid Amiri, Ali Gholizadeh, Siamak Nemati, Saman Ghodos, Alireza Jahanbehsh, etc. are others who will eventually be invited only 8 people. Kamiabinia and Sarlak will have little chance. Jahanbakhsh has been poor all season and a fringe player for his club Brighton. Karimi and Nourafakn might struggle to make the final list too.

In the coming weeks, the sensitivity and stress among the national team players will increase, and it remains to be seen who will make the roster to Bahrain.




our prediction is based on the league performance of each player. the analysis of the clubs and suitability. There were few points given to the previous performances and historic records in Team Melli as this has no value in this challenging present environment.


# Player Club Country
1 ABEDZADEH, Amir C.S. Marítimo
2 BIRANVAND, Alireza Royal Antwerp BEL
3 NIAZMAND, Payam Sepahan
4 KHALILZADEH, Shoja Al Rayyan
5 HOSSEINI, Majeed Trabzonspor
6 KANANI-ZADEGAN, Hossein Persepolis
8 JALALI, Abofazl Saipa Alborz
9 MOHARRAMI, Sadegh Dynamo Zagreb CRO
10 POURALIGANJI, Morteza Shenzhen FC CHN
11 AMIRI, Vahid Persepolis
12 EBRAHIMI, Omid Al Ahli
13 NEMATI, Siamak Persepolis
14 HAJSAFY, Ehsan Sepahan
15 NOORALLAHIE, Ahmad Persepolis
16 EZATOLLAHI, Saeid Vejle Boldklub DEN
17 TORABI, Mehdi Persepolis
18 GHODOS, Saman Brentford ENG
20 AZMOUN, Sardar Zenit St. Petersburg
21 GHOLIZADEH, Ali Chareloei BEL
22 GHAYEDI, Mehdi Esteghlal
23 TAREMI, Mehdi FC Porto POR




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.

Iran – Bosnia; Without key players.

The national teams of Iran and Bosnia will face off in an international friendly match this evening in Sarajevo. Both teams will be without key players in the lineup.

The match is the first since that memorial encounter in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The match (Thursday) at 20:30 Tehran time (18:00 local time) at Asim Farhatovic Stadium is held on FIFA Day allowing many countries the chance to test their players. For many football fans, this match is a reminder of the one between the two teams in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where the game ended with a score of 3 – 1 in favor of the European rival, but in the end, neither team managed to advance from the group.

In the latest FIFA rankings, Iran is 29th while Bosnia-Herzegovina is 51st. Continentally, Iran is the second-ranked team in Asia while and Bosnia is ranked 30th in Europe. The most crucial point of this game is the absence of many Bosnian key players either enforced due to injuries but mainly due to an attempt by the coach to give more opportunities to domestic young players and several players playing in Eastern European countries. In this match, the Bosnian coach will give a rest to stars such as Miralem Pjanić, Sead Kolašinac, etc. in preparation for the game against Italy and the Netherlands.

Ehsan Hajsafy

The biggest absentee of the game is Edin Dzeko, the star of Italian AS Roma, who is absent due to Coronavirus. Also, three players and two members of the Bosnian technical staff are in the same situation as Dzeko and lost this game. In Team Melli, the illness of Mojtaba Najarian and Sasan Ansari prevented them from joining the squad hence missing the match. Mehdi Shiri and Ali Karimi are the replacement players.

The team coach Dragan Skocic, who is going through his second camp with Iran, has invited a list of domestic league players to the squad. There is a significant list of key players who will miss this match such as Azmoun, Taremi, Ghoddos, Jahanbakhsh, Beiranvand, Mohebbi, Torabi, Ghafouri, Rezaian, and so on.

However, despite being criticized, the national team coach hopes to win this friendly: “I know Bosnia well and I am aware of the strengths and weaknesses of this team. We want to win against them on and off the field. I wish Bosnia success in his next games, but we want to beat this team in the next game.”

In the first game since Dragan Skočić, took over, Team Melli defeated Uzbekistan 2-1 away from home to mark a positive start and hope for an impressive run for the Croatian coach’s tenure. Team Melli will be in Bosnia from Monday night and will return to Tehran after Thursday’s match and will not have any more friendly matches, which is due to the perpetual weakness of the Iranian federation in arranging friendly matches.

The Bosnian national football team suffered a recession after the 2014 World Cup and could not qualify for Euro 2016 or even the 2018 World Cup. Bosnia did not qualify for Euro 2021 recently, so the trail of failure is still hanging around Bosnia disappointing its fans. However, in the second round of the Europa League, they reached the highest level of competition and are in a group consisting of the Netherlands, Italy, and Poland. Bosnia collected 2 points only from its first 4 games. However, with several of the squad members playing professionally in European leagues, they are still a serious benchmark for Iran.

 “In the game against Iran, we want to give some players a chance, specifically those who do not normally get playing time. This game is an opportunity to learn about the technical quality of the young and newly invited players,” Dušan Bajević said of his team’s condition before the friendly against Iran and Italy in the Europa League.

“They are playing in the Bosnian league, but they are not at the level of the players who play in the European leagues. However, the national team player must always be serious.” The Bosnian coach also called Iran a strong team in the offensive line, but considered the national team’s defensive line to be weak: “The Iranian national team has not been able to achieve the desired results in the past few years. They changed their coach. Skocic has taken over the reins of Iran and now he has only played one game while he was in charge on the bench. We analyzed Iran’s friendly against Uzbekistan. They have good players in attack but weak in defense.”

Team Melli list for Hong Kong match is announced.

Marc Wilmots announced the squad list of Team Melli for the match against Hong Kong which will be Iran’s opening match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

In the new Mark Wilmotz roster, Esteghlal , Persepolis and Tractorsazi have the lion share of the players. Sepahan Esfahan and Padidah Shahr Khodro who are currently leading the Persian Gulf Football League table, have no representation in Team Melli.

Estghala has 4 players (Hossein Hosseini, Siavash Yazdani, Ali Karimi and Vouria Ghafouri ), Persepolis has 6 (Alireza Biranvand, Vahid Amiri, Hossein Kanani Zadegan, Mehdi Torabi, Mohammad Naderi and Ahmad Nourollahi ) while Tractorsazi of Tabriz has 3 players (Rashid Mazaheri, Ehsan Haj Safi and Masoud Shojaei)

There are prominent absentees in the list and the most surprising is the Captain Ashkan Dejagah. Tractor midfielder, who has been ever-present in Team Melli in the last 9 years, is nowhere to be seen in the list despite his brilliant performance in the first two weeks of the Premier League. Dejagah was instrumental in his team defeat of the defending champions Persepolis a few days ago.

On the other hand, the Team Melli selectors have invited Persepolis defender Kanani -Zadegan , who has not played a single minute in the league this season!

Siavash Yazdani and Mohammad Naderi are the two rookies

Another major absentee is former Esteghlal defender Rouzbeh Cheshmi. The reason given for his exclusion is due to uncertainty about his future club after his contract expired with Esteghlal.

There is also no place in the squad for Saeed Ezzatollahi, who recently moved from Russian club to Belgian team Eupen. His status and lack of match fitness were deemed unacceptable for the upcoming match against  Hong Kong.

The Iranian national football team will face Hong Kong at 9:37 pm on Tuesday, September 19, in the qualifying round of the World Cup and the Asian Nations Cup.


# Player Club Country
1 BIRANVAND, Alireza Persepolis
2 MAZAHERI, Mohammad Rashid Tractorsazi
3 HOSSEINI, Hossein Esteghlal
4 GHAFOORI, Vourya Esteghlal
5 HOSSEINI, Majeed Trabzonspor
6 KANANI-ZADEGAN, Hossein Persepolis
7 MOHAMMADI, Milad Ghent Image result for belgium flag
8 NADERI, Mohammad Persepolis
9 POURALIGANJI, Morteza Al Arabi
10 REZAEIAN, Ramin Al Shahaniya
11 YAZDANI, Siavush Esteghlal
12 AMIRI, Vahid Persepolis
13 EBRAHIMI, Omid Al Ahli
14 HAJSAFY, Ehsan Tractorsazi
15 KARIMI, Ali Esteghlal
16 NOORALLAHIE, Ahmad Persepolis
17 SHOJAEI, Masoud Tractorsazi
18 TORABI, Mehdi Persepolis
19 ANSARIFARD, Karim Al Saliyah
20 AZMOUN, Sardar Zenit St. Petersburg
21 JAHANBAKHSH, AliReza Brighton & Hove Albion
22 SAYYAD-MANESH Allahyar Fenerbahçe
23 TAREMI, Mehdi Rio Ave

Marginal win for Team Melli vs Bolivia

Iran’s Team Melli defeated Bolivia 2-1 at Azadi this evening. The game was the second in a series of matches that Queiroz have arranged in preparation for the AFC Asian Cup 2019

The first half ended 1-0 to Iran from a goal scored by Alireza Jahanbakhsh in the 17th minute.  Bolivia tied the match from a fantastic volley by Rudy Cardoso on the 51st minute.  Mehdi Torabi then scored the winner on the 63rd minute. His second in as many games for Team Melli.

The starting line up of Team Melli was a pleasant surprise as Queiroz sent an offensive team with one recognized defensive midfielder in Omid Ebrahimi. At front, the full force of Team Melli in the shape of Azmoun, Taremi and Jahanbakhsh  while the midfield was orchestrated by Saman Ghoddos who rarely starts for Team Melli despite enjoying g a highly successful season in the French League.

Queiroz attempt at offensive game plan came in front of a relatively weak team from Latin America. Despite much better possession  percentage and more shots on goal , Team Melli players were going through the same old problems that has marred their game for many years, poor finish and poor last ball. Jahanbakhsh , Azmoun and Taremi wasted many chances due to weak control or inaccurate shots.

The two prominent players in this half were Saman Ghoddos and Sadegh Moharrami.

The defense line up was lacking the presence of injured Morteza Pouraliganji and was quite short of experience.  It is obvious that Queiroz needs a lot of work to mend this fragile defense line. Biranvand, once again showed his weak side and unreliable goaltending when his suspect positioning resulted in the Bolivia goal.

Despite the fatigue by Bolivian Team, they managed to contain the Iranian offensives easily. Team Melli players did not help themselves with their own poor finishing, inaccurate passes, and wasted final balls.

Overall, this match against a team that has no relation to the style and type of football that is going to be played in the Asian Cup, did not give confidence to the fans that Iran is really able to mount a serious challenge for the title. Queiroz, who is by now becoming so unpredictable in whatever he does, realizes more than  anyone what an uphill battle is ahead especially when the likes of Japan , Australia and Korea are preparing against stronger teams and achieving good results.

The two lines that have disappointed the most were the forwards and the defense. Taremi does not have the quality to perform at the highest level and there is very little that Queiroz can do about that. However, the better tactical and skilful duo , Jahanbakhsh and Azmoun were both lethargic like despite the former scoring the lucky goal.

With two remain matches before the Asian Cup, Queiroz will have more opportunity to experiment before opting to filed an offensive minded team in UAE or revert back to his comfort zone of defense.


Narrow loss to Tunisia

TUNIS – A fortunate own goal handed Tunisia a 1-0 victory over Iran in their friendly clash on a waterlogged pitch in Tunis on Friday, in what was a morale boosting result for the World Cup-bound north Africans.

Wahbi Khazri proved the talisman for the home side and it was his dribbling run that led to the 71st minute winner. Khazri’s shot was parried by Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand into the path of defender Milad Mohammadi, who could only turn the ball into his own net.

Carlos Queiroz started the match with 7 regular plays missing but welcoming back the veteran Captain Masoud Shojaei who played in the first half.

Despite the water-logged pitch , Team Melli played a fluent game with many passing moves into the host box. In fact , if it was not for that perennial problem that Iran seem to always have with Arab referees, Team Melli would have been awarded a penalty in what looked a like a very obvious foul in the penalty box on Karim Ansarifard. To the horror of the Olympiakos forward, the Egyptian referee played on. Several replays by the Tunisian referee only made the case of a penalty that much stronger.

The new defensive line up at the back stood well against the quick and agile Tunisian ,however , there was very few serious attempt at Biranvand goal.

The first half ended goal less.

In the second half and with many substitution, the game lost a bit of its excitement. Team Melli was the more organized in the middle of the field , but the problem was in the forward line. Absence of Taremi and Azmoun was quite noticeable up front ad neither Ansarifard nor Ghoocannejad managed to seriously threaten the Tunisia goal. Both forwards struggled to convince as an attacking force. Kaveh Rezaei did not fare much better either.
A glorious chance for Team Melli to score was wasted by substitute Mehdi Torabi when he hit the sky with the Tunisia keeper stranded.

Tunisia, who share the same World Cup group with Belgium, England and Panama, might have had a second soon after but Khazri’s powerful close range effort was well saved.

Iran were using the match to approximate the playing style of Morocco, who share their group in Russia with Portugal and Spain.

A dipping free kick from captain Ehsan Hajsafi in the 67th minute, saved by Tunisia’s Farouk Ben Mustapha, was the closest Iran came to scoring.

Vahid Amiri , so reliable on the flanks during the World Cup qualifiers lacked his normal agility and pace. Alireza Jahanbakhsh was introduced too late to make an impact.

Overall, the loss to Tunisia , gave Queiroz some good insight inb the capabilties of the second string team.

Team Melli’s take another north African country, Algeria, in Graz, Austria on Tuesday.

Iran punished by FIFA for disciplinary misconduct

IRIFF is to pay a hefty CHF 85,000  (US$ 87,784) fine to FIFA as a result of sanctions imposed on the football association for incidents during recent 2018 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying matches, including the discriminatory and severe unsporting conduct of spectators as well as religious manifestations.

In the match against Qatar , the altercation and the chaos that ensued Iran’s first goal resulted in a fine on two players , Azmoun and Hajsafy and a 3 match ban for assistant coach Javad Nekounam. Improper conduct among supporters,  Unauthorized persons in the field of play (Nekounam)  and Team misconduct were in violation of articles 52 and 67 of the FDC article 26 par. 9 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Regulations, according to the ruling body. That has incurred a CHF 40,000  (US$ 41,310) fine and a severe warning against future misconduct.

In the match against Korea, where the religious authorities extremely upset about the match being played in tasooa , a Shia mourning remembrance day. (the greatest of the sins) turned  Azadi stadium into a massive Husseiniya in clear defiance to the spirit of sport and FIFA regulations banning any form of religious and political expression in stadiums during football matches.

FIFA also accused Iran of organizing religious ceremony before the game and at half-time . Use of a drone during  the ceremony,  improper conduct among spectators by holding and displaying religious banners throughout the game,

As a result of violations of article 52 of the FDC + articles 4 & 5 of the Regulations of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia , FIFA has imposed a sanction on FFIRI amount of CHF 45,000  (US$ 46,473) in addition to a reprimand letter and a severe  warning.

Iranian football is notorious for displaying all sort of religious expression. In league matches, it seems that the authorities or at least the radical religious faction in the country promote and encourage such behaviors, while the Football Federation is too scared to punish the offenders in fear or reprisal by the radical religious faction

Despite many warning, this seems to be a repeat offense by Iran and subject to future sanctions or banning of matches being played in the country or matches being played behind closed doors.

Facing the truth against China.

It is no use escaping the fact that Team Melli victory against Qatar was a combination of a stroke of good luck, which in fact Iran deserves, and failure of the opposition focus. Qatar played a very well organized match and could have easily scored a goal or two during the match. They had pace, solid defense and individual skills to trouble Team Melli. However, they ended up losing the match due to a killer mistake  by the keeper, who gifted the goal to Iran in the 94th minute of the match.


A brief analysis of the match on why Team Melli failed to perform up to expectation indicates some critical failure by the team management in preparing the team. The team played under incredible psychological pressure from the media, the federation and worse than all, from the Head coaches himself. It is prudent to say that this is a young team with players in their early twenties playing in front of 80,000 passionate fans. So that immense pressure was boiling even before that match started.  Hyping players has become a standard practice in the modern sports. It is a work of science and a domain for the professionals in sport psychology. in Team Melli , this role is carried out by Carlos Queiroz who is far from being anywhere near a professional in this field.

The man sets the worst example for bad case of anger management, lack of self-control and loss of composure during matches.  His TV interview where he was talking as if Iran is prepare for a war against an enemy , is a clear evidence that this man does not have the tools to suitably prepare his players mentally & emotionally.  The players felt that pressure from the start and subsequently did not perform anywhere close to their last three games, when there was little or no pressure.


Time and again , Iran has failed in mentally preparing a good team for the major tasks. Over-hyped emotion and prayers have been engaged where the situation requires methodical and systematical means of mind control.

Fortunately for Iran, in Shenyang Olympic stadium, that psychological pressure will not there. In fact, in a role reversal, it is the Home team who will endure such pressure. China has to deliver after their narrow 2-3 loss on the opening day to South Korea, A good result against Asia’s top team is demanded by the fans and media in China. Only a win can be satisfactory for a country that has invested hugely in the club football, especially in the last few years.


China showed much grit and determination against South Korea, Like Qatar they were the unlucky losers but unlike Qatar, their lapse of concentration was not momentarily but lasted much longer resulting in conceding of three goals. It is there where Team Melli can hit the Chinese. The far and few scoring chances must be effectively taken.

Queiroz needs to put his house in order, too. No rhetoric of his or his coaching staff can hide the fact that Iran has performed poorly against Qatar and an enormous task is needed to come out of Shenyang with points.   

The lineup needs changing. Rezaeian was clearly short of form and idea against Qatar. Taremi lost in the forward line and the middle of the field needs a serious change of game plan, tactics and perhaps players. Dejagah and Ezatollahei were good but could not influence the match nor produce enough balls to feed the forwards. Teymourian was excellent in his role as a defensive midfielder while Jahanbakhsh was not so prominent. The addition of Mehdi Torabi will strengthen the midfield.

In defense, apart from one heart stopping blunder by Biranvand when he completely missed the ball on a cross against Qatar, he was generally fine and dependable. That same cannot be said about the central defense. Hosseini, the most experienced of the players is slow and can be easily intimidated. Montazeri suffers from lack of pace like his partner.  There is a dire need of a solid and fast defender, which Iran fortunately has in the form of Morteza Pouraliganji. The Al Sadd defender has the added advantage of playing in the Chinese professional league so his experience will be that more valuable. The team should not defend deep against China because the shortage of pace in Iran’s defense could prove costly for Team Melli.


Azmoun still remains the top choice for the front line, but Taremi has to go on the bench allowing Queiroz to add to his midfield power by selecting Torabi , Ebrahimi or Shojaei.

A win for Team Melli is certainly possible. They are the better team, no doubt but they need to prove it. It will be a close match.


Easy win for Team Melli against India

Team Melli defeated India 4-0 in the match played in Azadi stadium on Thursday as part of the qualifying rounds of FIFA World Cup 2018. Iran leads group D with 17 points and +21 goal difference ahead of Oman (14 points and GD of + 6 ) . The two teams will meet next Tuesday in the final match of the group competition.

Despite fielding a reserve team , Carlos Queiroz men did not find much difficulty in beating India 4-0 in Azadi Stadium this evening. The first half ended with a narrow 1-0 margin after the Captain Ehsan Hajsafy scored a penalty. Three more goals were scored in the second half with Hajsafy scoring another penalty as Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh added to the tally each side of the Hajsafy spot kick.

The experimental line up of Carlos Queiroz however did not function as he hoped. There were two debutants in today’s match. In the goal, Mohammad Rashid Mazahari, Zob Ahan’s keeper made his debut from the start. He was hardly tested, however.  While Dariush Shojaeian of Gostarish Foolad , a player who has certainly generated much attention in the league, made his debut as a substitute in the second half.

As expected from such line up , there were quite a few shortfalls and disappointments. Amiri , Ezatolahie and Taremi failed to match their previous good performances , while   Jahanbakhsh and Azmoun wer not linking well to make their team’s superiority pay. Hordes of corner kicks won by Iran resulted in just one goal and that was a penalty. The yield was poor in that area which should have been a major source of goals. Some of the finishing and last ball lacked quality and in cases failed to reach the recipients by a wild margin.

India were galant in defending and there is no doubt that in their goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu , they have a quality custodian. The only player in India team who plays in Europe, Singh Sandhu single handedly kept Team Melli attackers at bay with some brilliant saves.  India, with the absence of Chhetri had very little to offer in the offense line, however , there were good attempts and in the ones with pace they managed to penetrate Iranian defenses but their finishing was short of the required to bother the strong Iranian defenders and Mazaheri in goal.

For Iran , topping the group is virtually assured and they will be in the pot for the next round. The last match against Oman is no more than a formality as even a narrow home defeat will be enough for heading the group ahead of Oman. For India, they need to once again try to establish a good national team. With the professional league in India going from strength to strength , India should have a good chance to establish a national team that can challenge the tops Asian teams.

In any case, Carlos Queiroz seems to be on the right course in his attempt to produce a new look team that can qualify for the next World Cup. His introduction of new players is creating a competition for places.

Man of the Match : Gurpreet Singh Sandhu  (India)





4 – 0

Half-time 1 – 0

Competition: WC Qualification Asia
Date: 24 March 2016   Game week : 9\
Kick-off: 17:3  Half-time 1 – 0  Full-time4 – 0
Venue : Azadi Stadium (Tehrān)

Attendance: 29,900

Ehsan Hajsafi (PG) 33′
1 – 0
Sardar Azmoun 61′
2 – 0
Ehsan Hajsafi (PG) 66′
3 – 0
Alireza Jahanbakhsh 78′
4 – 0

M. Mazaheri : P. Montazeri [83′ J. Hosseini] , M. Pouraliganji , R. Rezaeian , E. Hajsafi (Capt.), O. Ebrahimi [68′ D. Shojaeian] , V. Amiri , S. Ezatolahi, M. Taremi [ 66′ K. Ansarifard], S. Azmoun , A. Jahanbakhsh
Coach: Carlos Queiroz

G. Singh Sandhu ; A. Khongjee [ 20′ P. Kotal ], Augustin Fernandes , S. Jhingan, N. Das, P. Halder , R. Borges , B. Jairu 36′ H. Khabra] , J. Lalpekhlua , H. Narzary [ 64′ L. Fanai] , U. Singh
Coach: S. Constantine
IRAN: K. Ansarifard , D. Shojaeian, J. Hosseini, E. Pourghaz, K. Kamyabinia, M. Akhbari, M. Shojaei, M. Torabi, Milad Mohammadi, R. Ghoochannejhad, V. Ghafouri
INDIA: P. Kotal, H. Khabra, B. Jairu, L. Fanai, Arnab Mondal, C. Lobo, F. Fernandes, K. Singh, S. Pal, S. Passi, S. Singh, V. Rai