Tag: Branko Ivankovic

Ghalenoei Ivankovic Nabi in Tashkent Jube 2023

Brank Ivankovic visits Team Melli camp

The former Head Coach of Team Melli, Branko Ivankovic, paid a visit to the training camp of Team Melli in Tashkent and had a cordial chat with Team Melli head coach Amir Ghalenoei and several players including Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi.

The Croat is considered one of the most popular foreign coaches of Team Melli who later also coached Persepolis. He started working in Iran as an assistant to the late Miroslav “Ćiro” Blažević who coached Team Melli in 2001. Branko followed Blažević as head coach of Iran from 6th February 2002 to 19th September 2002. He was back at the helm a year later when Homayoun Shahroukhi was removed for Ivankovic to take over on 12th October 2003.  Team Melli enjoyed a successful period under Ivankovic and managed to qualify for the World Cup 2006 in Germany after which he left the Team again.

Ivankovic has been coaching Oman National team since January 2020.

Both Iran and Oman are taking part in the CAFA Nations Cup 2023 with Iran scheduled to play host Uzbekistan in the final while Oman is playing Kyrgyzstan in the playoff match in Tashkent.

Miroslav “Ćiro” Blažević, former Team Melli coach passes away.

Miroslav Blažević, the former head coach of the Croatian national football team, who won third place in the  World Cup 1998 with this team, has passed away. Blažević became the head coach of Team Melli.  in charge of the Iranian national team, but he could not lead this team to the 2002 World Cup.

Ćiro accepted an offer to lead the Iranian national team midway through the 2002 World Cup qualification process. Coming in ahead of the final qualifying round, he quickly developed a following among many of the Iranian fans. Ćiro kept the 3–5–2 formation that Iran had played with previously in the 96 Asian Cup, in which the Iranian national team had won third place. He also introduced new players to Team Melli such as Rahman Rezaei, Javad Nekounam, and Ebrahim Mirzapour. Known as a loudmouth and showman, Blažević stayed true to form by claiming he would hang himself from the goalposts if Iran failed to beat Ireland in the deciding qualification playoff for the 2002 World Cup.[16] Ireland won 2–1 on aggregate, the defeat that marked the end of Blažević’s time in Iran as his assistant Branko Ivanković took over.

According to the Croatian website vecernji, Blajević battled prostate cancer for a long time but ultimately lost the battle.

Blažević was supposed to celebrate his 88th birthday tomorrow. This coach had experience not only in the Iranian national team but also in the Mes Kerman team in 2011.

He is always remembered fondly by the players in the early 2000 era as a colorful character and a tactician.

God bless his soul.

Mehdi Taj on the defensive in the press conference

The beleaguered Head of FFIRI acknowledged that many in the country oppose his return to the FFIRI and many more oppose Querioz’s return as head coach of Team Melli.

In the press conference after his re-election, the head of FFIRI talked about various issues, including his legal cases with the chance of prosecution and the state of Team Melli.  According to press reports, after the departure of Skocic who was replaced by Carlos Queiroz,

Mehdi Taj, in the press conference on Thursday at the national teams camp, started by defending himself against accusations and pending cases in the courts, some of which are serious in nature, filed against him in the judiciary. “I have been in management work for about 40 years and I have worked in different capacities. Whenever the Wilmots case is mentioned, they immediately shout corruption! This case is similar to the case of Branco Ivankovic, Stramaccioni, and Calderon, but the case of Wilmots is called, corruption comes to people’s minds.”

He also defended himself about alleged fraud cases in the Foulad Mobarakeh company “I was retired from Foulad Mobarakeh. My wages were 20 million tomans per month for three years. If anyone has any claims with documents against me then let him go ahead and publish them. A question was asked to the judiciary about my legal status last week and suddenly all the media wrote that the judiciary published all the crimes of Mehdi Taj, all that remained was to accuse me of murders and kidnappings! The only letter that was in fact sent to the judiciary was from the Secretary General’s inquiry from the prosecutor, who asked how many open cases I have, and they announced these three cases.”

Regarding the statements of parliamentarians, especially Ghazizadeh Hashemi, who has taken a special interest in the wrongdoing and fraud cases in football, Taj said: “The representative’s concern should not be only football. He can speak 100 times, 200 times or any amount he wishes on any network. At the end, It is the judiciary that decides each case. We did not know that he and Mr. Rastineh are so interested in football, but if they care so much, they should focus on the football of their own province. The whole parliament is not just about these two people, but we will answer any question that any member wants to ask.”

Taj went on to say: “These people have not talked about broadcasting rights, not even once. I believe that IRIB cannot afford to pay for football broadcasting rights. Secondly, some of our teams receive money from the government. I have prepared a plan which is FIFA and AFC models. We hope that one day we will have a team in Khorramabad and Kermanshah, not only in cities that only have factories. We hope that deprived provinces including Sistan and Baluchistan will have teams.”

“Instead of being hostile, the IRIB can work with the football federation and have a codified plan and work with this plan for years. The football development model is not very difficult. We can borrow, learn and respect all the laws of the country.”

Referring to Team Melli, he said: “Mr. Skocic is a very respectable and honorable coach. It was very difficult for me. I swear to God that it was difficult for me to remove Skocic. The coach was very calm and gentle. In the most difficult conditions, he took charge of our national team and managed to qualify to the World Cup in the most difficult of circumstances. Please raise your hats in his honor. I saw that the conditions of the national team and players were not good. I don’t want these issues to be opened. We came to the conclusion that if we change the head coach now, it will be in the country’s interest. Now they say that no one can guarantee that if we bring in Queiroz, we will get better results, but the history of Mr. Queiroz in our national team, the results obtained in the past, and the games that he has led the national team as he has been with the team for eight years make us believe this is the right appointment. We are heading to the right direction and have started a good path. It was easy for me to let Skocic stay and not accept responsibility. I could say that I did not leave him, but I removed Skocic for the sake of the country.

The appointment of Queiroz is for the benefit of the country,

Taj claimed ” I know that some seniors and veterans are totally against the selection of Queiroz and also against my own appointment for whatever reasons. I really kiss everyone’s hand out of respect for the national team and the country and out of respect for our beloved flag, and I ask for the country to support the national team in the current situation.”

“I believe that this choice is in the interest of the country. We qualified for the World Cup with Queiroz two times in a row. Those who claim that I have abused my power, let them come forward with proof. During the presidency of Mr. Ahmadinejad, they use to give the president a car, which I did not get. In these 13 years in the federation, I did not receive a single rial in salary. Publish the facts if there is anything. It is not a fact when a parliamentarian claims there is corruption in football.

Taj added: “Who does not have a case in the courts? It was easy for me to do nothing and let the national team go to the World Cup. Mr. President announced several times that he supports the national team financially. We signed a provisional contract with Queiroz, he receives 50,000 euros per month. He has 5 assistants, each of whom receives 30,000 euros. This contract is until the end of the World Cup, and of course, there is a possibility of extending it until the AFC Asian Cup. I thank Queiroz. Mehdi Taj said, “When the government supports the national team, why should we ask for health?” He said: In any case, I think the choice of Skocic was right. If according to many loved ones, it is wrong, they should support the growth of the country’s national team.

“I thank Hamid Estili.” when he was asked about the Team Melli manager’s resignation from his post: “I have not seen Estili’s resignation. I would like to thank him for his efforts during the supervision of the national team. Regarding Foulad Club’s opposition to Nekonam’s activity in the national team, Taj said: I hope that the problem of Nekonam will be solved, and I myself will consult to have Nekonam as a good coach and an investment for the future in the national team. This is the German model, where they leave some people with the national team to become the head coach. God willing, this will happen

Marijo Tot “We have a good chance of advancing from the group

The assistant coach of the Iranian national football team expressed hope that Team Melli would advance to the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2022 for the first time in its history.

In an interview with tportal site, Tot mentioned that this is a historic occasion for Croat coaches. For the second time in history, two Croatian coaches will be leading two different teams in the World Cup. This happened first at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where Zlatko Kranjcar and Branko Ivankovic, were in charge of Croatian and Iran respectively. Zlatko Dalic has now managed to clinch qualification to the World Cup with Croatia, while another Croat Dragan Skocic achieved similar success with Iran.

“We are very happy with this group, it is clear that you can not have an easy opponent in the World Cup,” said Marijo Tot, about Iran’s draw in the 2022 World Cup. England is both on paper and in reality the first chance to win the group title. The other three teams can compete equally for second place. I honestly think we have a very good chance of making it to the second round. There is a major rivalry with the United States because Iran played the United States in the 1998 World Cup and Iran won 2-1. The players who scored in that game have a special place in the country. It will be a special game now that we all know for what special reasons and our players will go to the World Cup with great motivation.”


“In the case of the third competitor, I would prefer Ukraine.” The assistant coach continued: “There is still a long way to go before the tournament starts and anything can happen. But many fans in Iran have the chance to be present for Team Melli in the World Cup. I believe that this time we can take that historic step forward and cross the group for the first time. Alireza Jahanbakhsh from Feyenoord, Mehdi Taremi from Porto and Sardar Azmoun from Bayer Leverkusen are Iran’s first hopes in this cup. We also have players who play in Greece and Turkey. We also have Sadegh Moharremi from Dynamo Zagreb, who plays very well here in Team Melli and was the best player on the field in the last game against Lebanon. I do not want to get into Dynamo’s problems, but given how good Muharrami is, I wonder why he does not get more minutes of play with his club in Croatia.”

About the defeat of Iran against South Korea, he said: “Despite the fact that we went to Seoul with an incomplete team, that is, without 6 or 7 players from the main team, we were quite strong in that game as well. But regardless of everything, we were ended up first in the group. We are the best team in Asia. We travel to this championship with the extraordinary support of the fans who will surely be with us in Qatar.”

“Soltanifar “National Teams expenses are entirely from the Ministry of Sports”

The Minister of Youth and Sports says all the expenses of the national teams, especially football (Team Melli), have been paid by the Ministry of Sports. He also announced that the new Team Melli head coach will be appointed soon, falling short of admitting that the Ministry is the decision-maker in such an appointment while declining to give specifics.

Masoud SoltaniFar told reporters in Kazeroon during his long day trip to Fars province: “Iran’s sixth FIFA World Cup appearance should be the main agenda of the Football Federation.”

In response to a question about the financial backing of Team Melli, the Minister said: “supporting and financing the national teams in all the expenses of the national teams, especially football, have been with the Ministry of Sport and there should be no concern by the stakeholders since we back the team.”

” We have a special budget for the Olympics, the support of the Ministry for the National Olympic Committee is comprehensive,” Soltanifar said

The Minister declined to name any candidates and despite the fact that a spokesman for his Ministry suggested that the new coach will most probably be a foreign coach, Soltanifar refused to specific.  Branko Ivankovic who was the front-runner for the post of Team Melli coach has just been appointed as the Head Coach of Oman after the Iranian side failed to settle his claims and back pays with Persepolis.

Branko Ivankovic appointed as Oman Head Coach

Branko Ivankovic has been appointed as the head coach of Oman’s National football team today.

The Croatian who helped Persepolis win three trophies in his last endeavor in Iran was the main candidate and front runner to coach Team Melli as a replacement for the departed Wilmots. However, Ivankovic made it clear that he will not put pen to paper unless Persepolis settles his claims and honors the contract he had with them.

Failure to settle with Persepolis disheartened the Croatian and he opted not to continue working in Iran despite his wishes and special passion he has for Iran.

Ivankovic is one of the most successful foreign coaches of Team Melli. He managed to qualify with Iran to the FIFA 2006 World Cup, and win the Asian Games Gold Medals with the Omid Team.

Speaking after his confirmation as coach of the Oman national team, The Croatian said, “Yes I expect to have a nice time here and enjoy with the people because I have heard many good things about the Omani people.”

Ivankovic’s main focus is helping Oman to qualify for the  FIFA World Cup 2022

FFIRI contemplating an Iranian coach for Team Melli.

The FFIRI has been negotiating secretly with several Iranian coaches in search of a new coach to take over the incredibly challenging task of coaching Team Melli.

Although the football federation as customary keeps denying such reports, it is not a secret that Ali Daei, Yayha Golmohammadi, and Amir Ghalenoei have been approached and talks have been carried out. Ali Daei is always a candidate for the job, but Daei’s standing and achievements have not been at its best lately. He was last fired from Saipa Alborz after failing to meet the expectations of the club board. Daei has turned down many job offers lately since then.

Ghalenoei coaching in Asian Cup 2007

Yahaya Golmohammadi, unlike the other two, has never coached Team Melli and is the least experienced the lot, however, he seemed to have an excellent chance to take the post. And then Persepolis comes calling and grabs  Yahya right under the nose of the FFIRI. Golmohammadi has been offered a return to his old club replacing the Argentine Calderon. Perspolis seems to have a contractual dispute with their coach with Calderon refusing to return back to the club.

Sepahan’s Head Coach Amir Ghalenoei seems to be in the lead to sit on the bench of Team Melli. His records with clubs are second to none. He is by far the most successful Iranian coach In the history of the league with 5 championship titles. He also coached Team Melli during the AFC Asian Cup 2007.

But Ghalenoei is driving a hard bargain. He has a bitter experience working for the federation. He is aware of how his paymasters can turn on him and deny him support.  This time, the former coach of Esteghlal, Tractorsazi, Zob Ahan, and Sepahan wants to ensure that such experience is not repeated.  Ghalenoei is giving the FFIRI all the strict conditions upon which he will only accept the offer including a handsome numeration package similar to the foreign coaches and complete say on the selection of the technical assistance and training crew.

FFIRI administrators and managers have hinted many times that the next Team Melli coach will be a foreigner, although local coaches are not being ruled out either. However, with the recent developments, the reputation of this federation and their habitual tendency to breach contracts with their employees, it will be very difficult to imagine a foreign coach agreeing to work for this federation unless he is very desperate. After the experiences and well-publicized hardships of Marc Wilmots, Branko Ivankovic, Gabriel Calderon and Andrea Stramaccioni amongst others, it is unlikely that we will see a foreign coach leading Team Melli any time soon.

FFIRI and the Iranian clubs’ justification for not paying their foreign coaches and/or players is the American sanctions on financial dealings and money transfer. The questions remain, however, if this is indeed the reason, then why offer jobs to foreigners knowing that they cannot be paid properly and regularly?

With Ghalenoei negotiations with FFIRI still in progress; Sepahan will have a tough time replacing Ghalenoei if he leaves. The Esfahani club has a good chance of grabbing the title this season and the departure of their coach will definitely impact the team chances of winning the Persian Gulf Pro League.

Taj and Wilmots to meet for termination of the contract.

After a lot of speculations and what looked like a covert operation, the FFIRI seems to have reached the decision to terminate the contract of the current head coach of Team Melli, Marc Wilmots.

The president of the Iranian Football Association FFIRI Mehdi Taj who attended the AFC awards ceremony, has left Hong Kong to arrange a meeting with Marc Wilmots or his lawyers in Istanbul with the objective of terminating the Belgian coach contract on mutual consent. It is believed that the groundworks for such termination has been completed and the meeting will be a formality to end what was a bitter and dark period of Team Melli history under the ineffectual Wilmots.

This would be Wilomts third successive sacking from his post after he was dismissed by his country’s federation in June 2016, and then came his short tenure with Ivory Coast, where he left his job  in November 2017 “by mutual agreement” where he had only been in the role six months, but paid the price for his failure to guide the Elephants to a fourth successive World Cup 2018.

With Iran , Team Melli is in serious risk of elimination from the World Cup with two successive defeats in the group qualifications rounds. It seems that the World Cup is Marc Wilmots’, Achilles Heel.

Branko Ivankovic is the leading candidate as successor , however there is still a major financial settlement that needs to be sorted out by Persepolis club before the Croat will agree to return back to Iran.  The president of that club has admitted that their former coach (Branko Ivankovic) is negotiating with the Iranian Football Association to become the national team coach after Ivankovic emphatically turned down Persepolis club offer to return to his old job.

Ivankovic is still very bitter with Persepolis club specifically his last few months with the club, not just because the club failed to respect the contract and held his wages for several months, but because of all the troubles and the turmoil that was created in the team led by a few players to undermine his authority and hinder his job.

Although Branko, as he is popularly known in Iran amongst the fans, has not signed up yet, it is believed that if FFIRI can guarantee regular payment of his wages, Ivankovic will sign to lead Team Melli for his third time.


Ivankovic’s pre-condition to coach Team Melli.

Branko Ivankovic is claiming 960,000 Euro arrears from Persepolis Club.

While the Croat coach is negotiating the possibility of coaching Team Melli with FFIRI and has met with the Iranian Ambassador in Croatia regarding this matter, he insists on settling the accounts with the Iranian Champions. The former Persepolis and Team Melli coach has given two conditions to the Iranian authorities, one of which is the financial settlement, while the other is the settlement of the contract with current coach Wimots before he can officially negotiates terms & conditions to coach Team Melli. It is an unwritten law between coaches that negotiating a job will not be carried out unless the post is vacant, which is not the case with Team Melli as Wilmots is still in charge, although remotely.

Meanwhile, Perspolis has acknowledged the receipt of an official letter from FIFA legal department reference Ivankovic’s claim and ordered to pay the full amount to their former Croatian coach. Failure to pay would result in sanctions on Persepolis and interest accumulation on the amount until it is fully paid.

Meanwhile, in true tradition Persepolis club on the receipt of the warning from FIFA, is seeking a discount from Branko Ivankovic! Persepolis must have thought to pull a quick one by taking advantage of Black Friday!

FFIRI has remained tight-lipped on the negotiations with Ivankovic and the contract with Marc Wilmots, whose future with Team Melli seems to be doubtful after the poor results that threaten Iran’s qualification for the FIFA Wolrd Cup 2022.

Kanaani-Zadegan, dismisses all rumors of a rift between players and Wilmots.

The Team Melli central defender dismissed talks of a dispute between players and Belgian coach Marc Wilmots as malicious rumours.

Mohammad Hossein Kanaani-Zadegan, was quoted saying that “The players and the coaching staff in Team Melli had a good working realtionship and mutual respect, anything beyond that is just malicious”

“Unfortunately, these talks have been spreading on social media. We respect Wilmots, and any talk or insinuation that the players in Team Melli were against Wilmots, is baseless rumours.” When Kanaani-Zadegan was quizzed about Branko Ivankovic impending arrival, he responded “I am unaware of his presence and I just heard it from you” The Persepolis defender said.

About the issue of Masoud Shojaei ,  Kanaani-Zadegan said “It has been mentioned that Shojeai has announced his retirement from Team Melli after the defeat against Iraq but the rest of the Team Melli players unanimously objected to that!  I assure you that this so-called announcement has never happened in the dressing room, and we are not unaware of any such plan”.

In respect to the other reports that Wilmots’ training style was not to the liking of the players “I don’t know where these rumours come from; Wilmots is a great coach, we’ve conducted the training that he planned for us too ” Kanaani said.

“there were some reporters present when we were at the training ground and they have witnessed how both we and Wilmots worked so hard for Team Melli’s success.”

Asked if the team only practised for two days before meeting Iraq? He said: “Again, this is not true, we did a few days of good and high-intensity training and I do not accept such statements that we only practised for two days. ” When he was asked to comment on reports that some Team Melli players called or have contacted Branko Ivankovic when they heard he is taking over Wilmots’ post, the former Machine-Sazi defender said, “I am unaware of this, it is best to discuss this with players who have called Branko.”

To put the records straight, Team Melli full contingent that includes the Legionnaires practised two days only before the match with Iraq. The rest of the training that Kanaani is probably referring too, was the training sessions for the domestic players only conducted by Hashemianm which is not considered as a full Team Training where gameplans, tactics and other stuff is discussed by the Head Coach.

Also, it has to be noted that reporters are only allowed 15 minutes from the start of training practice and then they asked to leave the pitch. It is not feasible to measure anything of worth in such a short time for reporters and observers.