Tag: Cambodia

Team Melli is on the march : Iran 10 – 0 Cambodia

Iran defeated Cambodia 10-0 in Group C of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Friday to ensure their qualification hopes are very much in their own hands.

The win took Iran to 15 points and with Iraq – who defeated Hong Kong later on Friday to stay two points ahead at the top – up next on the final day of the Asian Qualifiers, a win for Team Melli will mean finishing as group winners.

Cambodia, meanwhile, ended their campaign with just one point to their name from eight matches.

Iran head coach Dragan Skocic made six changes to the starting line-up that had defeated Bahrain 3-0 in their previous match, but there was no disruption to service as the Central Asians took a firm grip on the match.

Cambodia, however, showed early determination but suffered a setback in the 15th minute when Iran were awarded a penalty after defender Sor Rotana’s foul on Alireza Jahanbaksh (pictured below, right), with the Iran skipper converting the spot-kick.

Group C: Cambodia v IR Iran

Iran continued to press and were rewarded again with Shojae Khalizadeh rising highest to head home a corner kick in the 22nd minute before Mehdi Taremi (pictured below, left) got into the goalscoring action with a half-volley to make it 3-0 five minutes later.

Iran’s fourth goal came through Rotana deflecting Milad Mohammadi’s cross past custodian Keo Soksela in the 32nd minute, with the inside of the crossbar denying the Central Asians a fifth before the break as Saeid Ezatolahi’s penalty rebounded off the woodwork.

Cambodia v IR Iran (2)

Iran maintained a high tempo in the second half with Mohammadi etching his name on the scoresheet in the 57th minute, courtesy of Mehdi Ghayedi’s superb through pass, before Morteza Pouraliganji headed home a corner six minutes later.

Cambodia’s desperate defending led to another Iran penalty in the 77th minute, with Karim Ansarifard slotting home to make it 7-0.

Saeid Ezatolahi - Cambodia v IR Iran

There was no stopping Iran’s quest for goals, with Kaveh Rezaei becoming the seventh Team Melli player to find the back of the net after heading in Sadegh Moharammi’s cross in the 80th minute before Ghayedi displayed his dribbling talent in the box to beat Soksela from close range.

Rezaei bagged his second of the night in the 87th minute as Iran completed an emphatic win and set its sights on Iraq.

Skocic satisfied with his team but the focus is now on Cambodia game.

Dragan Skucic, the head coach of Iran, in the pre-match press conference before tomorrow’s (Friday) match against Cambodia said “I would like to express my satisfaction with the performance and the result of our match against Bahrain. While there was a lot of stress on the players in that game, we were able to get a satisfactory result.”

He added: “I ask my players to forget about the game against Bahrain. In football, you need to forget memories and past results. We do not want to underestimate Cambodia and we have a lot of respect for them. I watched their games and realized that their performance is much improved and they are better than their results imply, and I would like to ask my team to keep their focus on this game and show their quality. We are going for a win against Cambodia while we have a lot of respect for them. We came to Bahrain to get the maximum points and we have nothing to do with calculations and ifs and buts,” Skocic said.

Asked about the last result against Cambodia in Azadi stadium, and the impact of that game while facing them again on Friday ” All the players and the technical staff are focused this game against Cambodia, and I  have emphasized on them to forget about the game against Iraq and the ifs and buts for that game. We put everything we have to play against Cambodia and we are looking for maximum points.”

Dragan Skocic was accompanied by Saman Ghoddos in this press conference.

Team Melli is presently lying second after Iraq in Group C of the qualifying round of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022.

Dragan Skocic proud of his team’s resolve and performance

Riffa: Islamic Republic of Iran head coach Dragan Skočić, praised his side’s resolve and performance in the 3-0 win over Bahrain in Group C of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Monday.

After a relatively even first half, Iran were dominant in the second period with Sardar Azmoun scoring twice in eight minutes, before Mehdi Taremi sealed the win with a strike of his own.

Skocic was ecstatic with the result, which pushed the Central Asians up to second place on 12 points in the standings, ahead of Bahrain on goal difference. Leaders Iraq have 14 points.

“First of all, I want to congratulate my team for the valuable win against Bahrain. We started the campaign with just six points but have earned two important wins against Hong Kong and Bahrain,” Skocic said.

“The win doesn’t surprise us because we entered the match with the aim of getting three points.”

Dragan Skocic - FFIRI

Skocic revealed that he had made changes to Iran’s style of play which produced the important win but expressed concern that Vahid Amiri is facing the possibility of being sidelined for their remaining two fixtures.

“We tried to avoid any defensive mistakes that could have cost us a lot and put an end to our chances. Congratulations to the players once again. The only negative point from this game was losing one of our best players, Vahid Amiri, and we will probably have a problem with his absence for the coming matches.”

IR Iran v Bahrain - AQ (7)

“The result was based on the tactics we chose, and I’m proud of this victory. I have said before that the Bahraini team is a respectable team, and we prepared thoroughly for the match.

“Our style of play was completely different from the match against Hong Kong. We were ready for this game, and right now I want to enjoy this historic victory. We will start thinking about Cambodia on Tuesday,” Skocic added.

Iran face a must-win match against Cambodia on Friday, before playing Iraq in their final fixture four days later.

Bahrain head coach Helio Sousa didn’t hide his disappointment, saying: “If there is someone who should be disappointed, it would be me.

“We have built great confidence in our team and everyone believed in us to achieve victory but we faced a difficult team.

“A draw would have been a better result for us rather than the defeat, of course. Now, we must reach 15 points but our chances are slim because Iraq and Iran have two matches remaining.”

Sousa said the difference between the two sides was that Iran had the likes of Azmoun and Taremi.

“The strength of Iran was their ability to launch attacks from the middle and we should have not given them space to do what they want,” said the Portuguese coach.

“Our opponents had good quality players, including the best player in the Russian Premier League while they also have several players who play in top teams around Europe.

“We made good substitutions but the second goal that we conceded affected us a lot. We were hoping to have a better result but we failed to do so although we played with a lot of bravery.”


Team Melli preparing for the Crucial Games.

Team Melli’s next official match in the World Cup 2022 qualifying rounds is fast approaching. Iran will play against Hong Kong in Bahrain thirteen days from now.

 *Squad List

Meanwhile, The Croat head coach Dragan Skocic will announce the squad after the next round of league matches on Monday 24th May, after both Persepolis and Esteghlal play their postponed matches against Zob Ahan and Sanat Naft Abadanaft respectively.

Esteghlal and Persepolis are expected to have the most players in the Team Melli squad.

On concluding the matches on Monday, the final list will be announced at midnight, and the players named will have to make themselves available by the next day for training camp. Due to the presence of a number of legionnaires in this list, Skocic informed the players he picked to leave for Iran as soon as possible to participate in the training camp from day one. Most of the European Leagues have played their last matches on Sunday and pending flight availability, there should be no major delay in the availability of the legionnai4es in Tehran.

* Commencement of the training camp 24th May

According to the schedule, all the players and staff will undergo COVID19 PCR checks before joining the camp. After the results are determined, the group will hold its first training session at the National Football Academy second field.

The squad will finally leave for Kish Island on May 26th and will hold its first training session together in the late evening when the weather cools down, at the Kish Olympic Stadium.

The squad will be holding training sessions daily with all sessions conducted around the times of the matches so that the player acclimates to the condition existing in Bahrain. With the practice sessions being held late evenings, the lights of Kish Island Olympic Stadium have been strengthened to address Skochic’s most important concern on the grass.

* Vaccination of players

After the corona test is declared negative, legionnaires who have not yet received the Corona vaccine in their home countries will receive the first dose of the vaccine. Also, the group that passed the first stage of vaccination in Tehran will receive the second dose in Kish Island.

* Flight to Bahrain

The Iranian camp on Kish Island continues until 31st May. On the same day, the national team will fly to Manama, the capital of Bahrain, on a chartered flight, and will play its first match on June 3rd against Hong Kong, which is a warm-up for The game against Bahrain on 7th June.

Upon arrival in Bahrain, the national team will undergo corona testing and practice indoors.

For Iran to assure a place in the next round, they win have to win all their games, to overcome Iraq and Bahrain and advance to the third qualifying round of the World Cup.

On Sunday, Bahrain played an international friendly against Ukraine. The match ended in a 1-1 draw with the Ukrainians scoring in the dying minutes of the match.

Meanwhile, Iraq will be playing a friendly match against Tajikistan on Monday.  The Slovenian Head Coach SrečkoKatanec has announced the names of 26 players for this match.

* Match Schedule

05-Sep-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 1


Azadi Stadium, Tehran
10-Sep-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 2


Abu Dhabi
16-Sep-24FIFA Futsal World CupGroup F

Bukhara Universal Sports Complex
19-Sep-24FIFA Futsal World CupGroup F

Bukhara Universal Sports Complex
22-Sep-24FIFA Futsal World CupGroup F

Bukhara Universal Sports Complex
10-Oct-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 3


15-Oct-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 4


Azadi Stadium, Tehran
14-Nov-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 5


Peyoung Yang
19-Nov-24fifa World Cup 2026 Qualifiers
Round 3
Matchday 6




*Group Standing


Group C

1 Iraq 5 3 2 0 9 2 7 11
2 Bahrain 5 2 3 0 3 1 2 9
3 Iran 4 2 0 2 17 3 14 6
4 Hong Kong 5 1 2 2 3 5 -2 5
5 Cambodia 5 0 1 4 1 22 -21 1

“Fair Play” that has gone with the wind.


Team Melli head coach Dragan Skocic and Mehdi Taremi questioned AFC’s decision to hold World Cup qualifiers in Bahrain saying the decision was not made in the best interests of the participants.

They were not alone by any means as this great disappointment his all level of football in Iran which was counting of hosting 3 home matches against Hong Kong. Bahrain and Iraq.


Nothing is furthest away from “Fair Play” than the decision by AFC to award the hosting of group C remaining matches of the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers to Bahrain.

Iran has already played in Bahrain and lost. Iran is within its full right to avenge that defeat and become a contender by given its legitimate right to play Bahrain in Iran (be it Tehran, Tabriz, or Esfahan).  But to the shock of many, Bahrain was awarded the hosting!

There has to be some process matrix in taking such a decision, at least that is what many think. It should not be arbitrarily, politically motivated, based on favoritism, or based on factors beyond sport.

It is worth looking at a simple comparison. Surely it is not rocket science to figure. When it comes to accommodation and logistics, perhaps Bahrain beats Iraq and Cambodia, but it is way behind Hong Kong and at in a best-case scenario on par with Iran.

If we take the weather factor, then Bahrain is right at the bottom of the table. P{laying football in the heat and high humidity of June in the Persian Gulf countries, is not for the faint-hearted and is a hazard to the players, especially those who are not accustomed to such weather.

That is why FIFA moved the World Cup 2022 dates to November/December where the climate is much milder and pleasant. It was a major historical decision but in the end, it was the right one for all involved. The question now is, how come these weather considerations have not been applied in the case of awarding the hosting to Bahrain?

Iran is a big country, and it could host matches in cities ideal weather. The average temperature of Tabriz in June is 14.8 °C  to 26.6°C. It has the second biggest stadium which was recently renovated too.

If we are talking about Venues, Iran leads all of the group teams in a number of Stadia and facilities.

Apparently, AFC’s decision process is nothing like that.

The Iranians are furious at the AFC decision and have demanded an explanation, but seriously, no one expects AFC to provide any logical reasoning beyond its own. The world witnessed how football is administered by the ruling bodies. It is an autocratic system and one-sided which means the right to appeal and grievances are nothing but ceremonial especially if it involves commercial rights and financial interests.

In the corridors of Arab-dominated AFC, Iran has been deprived of many of its rights and the biased decisions against it are aplenty. The Iranian federation’s managers have played a major role in Iran losing so many cases, or at least not being given any favors. In general, these rulings are controlled by minnows albeit with quite a few accumulated votes. The Iranian representations in the AFC have been weak. The ineffectiveness of FFIRI management is institutional as a consequence of a system of appointment in the shape of a so-called election of the federation. Incompetent personnel reaches leadership posts due to their political influence more than their administrational skills and abilities.

Politics is quite rife in Iran’s federation, blame culture is a standard mode of operation, the current one accuses his predecessors, and the cycle repeats itself. The recently appointed President of the Football Federation (FFIRI) Shahab Azizi-Khadem was very quick to issue a long emotional communique accusing the previous administration of incompetency and lack of effort that resulted in the loss of the hosting rights. No one is in any illusion that this Azizi-Khdem will do any better than the rest of them, however.


Iranian fans are the eventual losers in all cases. When a small country like Bahrain has one of its subjects heading the Asian football ruling body, and good luck to them, it is no wonder that the decision of hosting the World Cup 2022 qualifiers tilted towards Bahrain. One needs to ask, why Iran a country with thousands of years of civilization is unable to produce competent representatives and candidates for the presidency of the AFC , or at least someone who can protect its interest in Kula Lumpur.

The decision for Bahrain hosting was taken way back before the announcement two days ago. AFC was just trying to create justifications, which until the writing of this article was not publicized.

Let’s end this with a quick quiz.

When is “Fair Play” the slogan that has been promoted by FIFA in football for many years, not a “Fair Play”?

If you guessed any of the answers below, then it is not too far from the truth:

  • When fair play is applied by AFC.
  • When your opponent in the World Cup qualifiers whom you have already played away and lost, has a man in the top of the AFC Pyramid.
  • When you play the same opponent in home and away format, at the opponent’s venue twice.
  • When playing in 29°C to 38°C degrees temperature and humidity that can be up to 90% (59% average) is much healthier and cooler for the players than high altitude mild weather of Tehran (average of 20.1°C to 34.5°C) with Maximum Humidity of 10%
  • When Covid19 is used as the ultimate excuse for bending the rules and breaking it.

Of course, we can go on and provide you a full sheet but we believe that you have caught the drift.

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers may be held behind closed doors.

With COVID19 still prevalent, Team Melli is likely to play the rest of FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers behind closed doors.

After months of uncertainty following of the postponement of the qualifiers, the schedule for the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers in the Asian Zone was announced, and Iran will play four crucial matches in October and November this year. However, the venues have not yet been announced yet by the World Football Governing body and AFC, and it is unclear whether the games will be hosted by the home team as standard, and whether spectators will be allowed entry into the venues. There is a possibility that the rest of the qualifiers will be played in a third country behind closed doors.

This possibility of action by FIFA and AFC is due to the continuing outbreak of coronavirus in different countries of the world. Corona is currently on the rise in some countries, and experts predict that the spread of the disease will worsen in the fall, and health protocols need to be implemented more vigorously. In this regard, the head of the UEFA Medical Committee announced that all national games will be held in the fall without spectators and that fans will not be able to return to the stadiums at the moment.

Such ruling by the Europeans could also be implemented in Asia which would practically deny the Iranian fans from attending matches in Azadi.

 * Effect of behind closed door games on Team Melli Chances.

Is this ban complicating Team Melli’s chances of qualifying? Although FIFA will announce its decisions after consulting with local confederations, it is clear that some Asian countries are less prepared than the Europeans and developed countries in terms of health protocols. As a result, due to the Iranian Premier League games being played behind closed doors, the AFC may not allow Iran to host spectators in the fall, and the national team will be forced to face its rivals without the support of the fans. Iranian fans have been a hallmark of Team Melli’s success throughout the years.

The players and managers have bee counting of home advantage in their remaining games specifically against Bahrain and Iraq, the two contenders of this group.

Due to the fact that Team Melli has played three away games, the matched in Tehran without the presence of spectators will be slightly in favor of the rivals. Currently, Iran is in third place in its group due to poor results of the previous round and the loss against Bahrain and Iraq under former coach Marc Wilmots. Iram has 4 points less than its two group leaders, namely Iraq and Bahrain.

Accordingly, the schedule of the Iranian national football team’s return matches was announced as follows:

Iran – Hong Kong (Thursday, October 8)

Cambodia – Iran (Tuesday, October 13)

Iran – Bahrain (Thursday, November 12)

Iran – Iraq (Tuesday, November 17)

Iran’s U19 team grouped with host Uzbekistan for the AFC Finals.

Iran’s U19 national youth soccer team is grouped with Indonesia, Cambodia and host Uzbekistan in the AFC U19 Championship 2020.

The draw for the Asian Youth Championship was held and the Iranian national youth football team was grouped with the teams of Cambodia, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan in group A of the four groups competition. The Championship will be hosted by Uzbekistan with the participation of 16 teams from October 14 to November 1 of this year.

The top four teams will qualify for the FIFA U19 World Youth Cup in Indonesia.  Iran’s U19 football team, led by Sirus Pourmousavi, clinched qualification in the preliminary qualifying rounds held in Tehran, but Pourmousavi has recently resigned his post citing lack of support from the FFIRI management and marginalization by the leaders of the federation.  The FFIRI s technical committee is currently looking to select a replacement head coach.

Maryam Shojaei to be honored.

Maryam Shojaei, who mounted a campaign — first anonymously and later publicly — that led to Iran allowing women to attend men’s soccer matches, is being honored with the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award, ESPN announced Tuesday.

The award is part of the Sports Humanitarian Awards, which typically are handed out during the week of the ESPYS. This year, the awards will be given out on various ESPN programs.


Women had been banned from watching men’s games since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, with only a few exceptions made for small groups on rare occasions. Shojaei, whose brother Masoud Shojaei is the captain of the men’s national team, initially criticized the ban on social media anonymously. She then started a five-year battle to allow women to see matches live in her country.

Shojaei, attended the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015, displaying a banner but keeping her identity hidden. By 2018, she had helped create the #NoBan4Women petition, and she went to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Russia, where her banners were confiscated but she revealed her identity.

She kept pushing FIFA to uphold its policies against gender discrimination, and eventually, the soccer governing body sent a delegation to Iran, which resulted in women being allowed to attend men’s international matches.

In October 2019, women were allowed to watch the Iranian men’s national team beat Cambodia 14-0 in Tehran in a World Cup qualifier. The initial lot of 3,500 tickets for women sold out almost immediately, and an additional 1,100 were released — about 5% of the total tickets in the stadium.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has urged Iranian authorities to open up stadiums to women for domestic league games, not just World Cup qualifiers.

“This is a very positive step forward, and one which FIFA, and especially Iranian girls and women, have been eagerly waiting for,” FIFA said in a statement in October 2019. “The passion, joy and enthusiasm they showed today was remarkable to see and encourages us even more to continue the path we have started. History teaches us that progress comes in stages and this is just the beginning of a journey.

“Consequently, FIFA now looks more than ever towards a future when ALL girls and women wishing to attend football matches in Iran will be free to do so, and in a safe environment.

“There can be no stopping or turning back now.”

The ESPYS will be televised on ESPN on June 21 at 9 p.m. ET. The Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award is sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Skocic aiming to get Iran back on track 

Dragan Skocic head coach of IR Iran attends his first press conference in Tehran
© imago images
  • Disappointing start for Iran in Qatar 2022 qualifiers
  • Dragan Skocic appointed new coach of Team Melli
  • Croatian spoke with FIFA.com about his goals


A look at Skocic’s resume reveals that this is his first time in charge of a national team, the 51-year-old having spent all of his coaching career at clubs in Croatia and the Gulf, such as Al Araby in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia’s Al Nasr. Despite his lack of national team experience, he is well aware of the task awaiting ahead.

“In contrast to a club, working with a national team allows you to choose from a large pool of players to instil your philosophy, although the downside is that you always have limited time to implement your ideas.”

Staying in the race

IR Iran suffered two defeats – against Iraq and Bahrain – in their opening four games in the AFC’s second qualifying round for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Given the quality of their squad, the team’s performance was not considered good enough. So how does the new incumbent plan to get them back on track?

“We’ll shortly be carrying out a detailed analysis of our team and those of our opponents as well. We’ll also be looking into new players who might join the squad. I have a clear idea of what’s required to improve our performances.”

Those two defeats have Team Melli currently occupying third place in Group C, a position that would not take them into the final qualifying round. Asked about the very real danger of early elimination, Skocic says: “Our current position is bad, but we’re not yet despairing. Three of our remaining four games will be at home, where we’ll have massive support from our fans. I also believe we have a quality group of players, which is why I’m optimistic.”

Help from the schedule

Skocic’s side do indeed have grounds for optimism. Their next two fixtures will be against Hong Kong and Cambodia, who on paper at least, should be beatable. They will then host current group frontrunners Bahrain and Iraq, which should give them a shot at claiming one of the group’s two qualifying spots in the next round. “We have to be professional and respect all the teams, including Cambodia and Hong Kong.”

IR Iran have reached the World Cup on five occasions. After back-to-back appearances in 2014 and 2018, the aim now is to secure a third consecutive participation for the first time.

“We’ve promised the people of Iran that we’ll go back to the World Cup, and we’ll do our utmost to fulfil that promise.”

IR Iran’s remaining Group C qualifiers:

🏠 IR Iran – Hong Kong
✈ Cambodia – IR Iran
🏠 IR Iran – Bahrain
🏠 IR Iran – Iraq

AFC proposing new dates for Iran World Cup qualifying games.

Qatar’s Al-Sharq newspaper reported today that the AFC is evaluating alternative dates for the Asian Teams competition backlog since March 2020. According to the newspaper, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has made two proposals for the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers and the AFC Asian Cup 2023, which are scheduled to take place on October 8th and 16th).

“The AFC is expected to present these two proposals to the local federations to identify their views and opinions, but in the end, it all depends on the coronavirus situation in the countries concerned ” Al-Sharq reported.

Team Melli matches against Cambodia and Hong Kong were postponed.

Iran’s Team is currently in third place in Group C of the World Cup qualifiers, which is also the qualifying round for the 2023 Asian Cup, after Iraq and Bahrain with 6 points. Meanwhile, there has been a change in the coaching staff with the Croat Dragan Skocic taking over after the disappointing Belgian Marc Wilmots left the job.

Dragan Skočić, has yet to lead Team Melli in any match, in fact, he has not managed to get the team together due to the restrictions and lockdown after the COVID-19 outbreak. All sporting activities are suspended in Iran at the present.