Tag: Competition

Mehrdad Pooladi seeking asylum in UK.

The former Team Melli and Persepolis player Mehrdad Pooladi is rumored to be seeking asylum in Britain following his problem with the authorities in Iran as the result of Military Service.

Pooladi who was Team Melli’s best player in FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, last played for Team Melli in the 2015 Asian Cup Australia. His expulsion in the quarter final match against Iraq after receiving the 2nd yellow card meant Team Melli playing the whole of the second half and extra time with one player short.

At the time, Pooladi was playing in Qatar Star League with Al Shahaniya and returned their following the elimination of Team Melli never to return back to his homeland.

The reclusive ex-Mes Kerman and Persepolis defender troubles began when he was named in controversial list of football players who dodged military service by presenting fake documents with the intention to fraud. The compulsory 2 years military service is required for all able bodied young Iranians after graduation from school.  Almost all the players named on that list, accepted the consequences of their misconduct and their subsequent punishments, which included servicing the full 2 years military service. Pooladi was the only one who insisted on his innocence. He was adamant that he followed the procedures in getting release from military service without publicizing the details.


Pooladi who has always been media shy and did not give many interviews was said to promise the authorities to prove that his discharge was legitimate on his return to Iran following the AFC Asian Cup 2015.

Pooladi never returned back to Iran and the reason was a concerted media slander campaign where he was called a “fugitive” , “deserter” and even a “traitor”. It is believed that Pooladi , on hearing or reading those comments in government run media including respected news agency such as ISNA , thought he was fighting a losing battle. Dejected and angry by these accusations, he decided not to return fearing reprisal and imprisonment by the authorities.

A few insiders point fingers at unnamed Persepolis club officials who hatched this campaign against him as a revenge for him abandoning the club in 2014 when he was most needed in a struggling team. These claims are unsubstantiated, however.

Mehrdad Pooladi was one of Carlos Queiroz’s most trusted players. It seemed that the Team Melli head coach was swearing by him to the extent that he named him in a squad once while the left back was on crutches recovering from injury!

Faghani referees FIFA Club World Cup 2015

Alireza Faghani, The Iranian referee who took control of the AFC Asian Cup 2015 has added another honor to his list by being appointed as FIFA Club World Cup 2015 referee.

The final match between Barcelona FC and the South American Champions  River Plate of Argentina is played in  Nissan Stadium (Yokohama) on Sunday 20th December.

Fagahi is the considered the top Asian referee and in recognition of his standard and record, FIFA trusted him with the most important match in its club competition calendar where players such as Messi, Neymar and Iniesta face the tough tackling Argentinian team known for their rough play.

Alireza Faghani is assisted on the line by Reza Sokhandan and Mohammad Reza Mansouri for the Final match.

Carlos Queiroz emerges as major contender for QPR job

Carlos Queiroz has emerged as a major contender to be QPR’s next permanent manager.

It is believed that QPR made enquiries about the former Real Madrid boss, who is currently in charge of Iran’s national team, before

Chris Ramsey was placed in charge until the end of the season.

Ramsey has a genuine chance of being offered the job on a permanent basis if Rangers enjoy a strong finish to their Premier League campaign – and he has major support from within the dressing-room.

Yet owner Tony Fernandes has been considering options with Queiroz, who had two spells as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United, a serious candidate.

The 61-year-old Portuguese is considered to fit the bill as the hands-on ‘head coach’ figure Fernandes is seeking to replace Harry Redknapp.


He also has a good track record of developing young players, which would be a prerequisite for any new QPR boss.

Sources within the club are sceptical about Fernandes’s claim on Twitter that he had identified his ‘dream manager’ before Ramsey’s interim appointment.

But it is understood that Queiroz is being considered and that he may be keen to return to English football.

Queiroz is under contract with Iran, meaning that no speedy appointment could have been made in the wake of Redknapp’s resignation three weeks ago.

But the experienced Portuguese may be open to a summer move after the nation’s Asian Cup campaign ended in a quarter-final defeat by Iraq in Australia last month.

The Goalkeeping dilemma.

Any Iranian fan watching the recent AFC Champions league matches would have been alarmed by the lackluster standard of Iranian goalkeepers. Added to the fact that the recent showing of Team Melli matches where goalkeepers performed poorly, such performances does not instill much confidence in the custodians who form the last frontier of any ambitious team challenging for championships and trophies.

The beautiful free flowing passing game of Naft Tehran deserved much better than the 2-1 defeat in Uzbekistan, as the Persian Gulf League leader fell victim to two horrible and amateurish errors by their goalkeeper Alireza Biranvand which cost them two goals and a defeat, after leading 1-0.

Nearly identical scenario was repeated a day later again in Uzbekistan as Tractorsazi was leading 1-0 before two blunders by their goalkeeper allowed the Uzbeks to win the match 2-1. The culprit goalkeeper was Hamed Lak. His edgy performance was a contributing factor in this defeat.

Persepolis , whose goalkeeper Sasha Makani is very well known for his calamitous performances was spared its blushes when they defeated Lekhwiya of Qatar 3-0 against all the odds. The Qatari league leader with some expensive star players were simply having a day off as Makani was hardly tested.

The common dominator of all these goalkeepers is that Carlos Queiroz has picked the above mentioned goalkeeper for Team Melli at different stages and competitions. Which , for all practical terms and purposes , means they are the best keepers in Iran. Biranvand is still in the list and was part of the last squad in the AFC Cup 2015 in Australia while Makani and Lak have only been recently replaced by Haghighi and Frouzan.

Mehdi Rahmati
Mehdi Rahmati

Haghighi , the surprise pick of the obstinate Portuguese coach , was the main goalkeeper for both the World Cup and Asian Cup. Not surprisingly, his performances have left a lot to be desired. The fans need to be thankful for the outright defensive game plan of Queiroz that has protected Haghighi in goal from being bombarded in both tournaments. However, when the team changed plans and needed to win by playing more offensively , Haghighi and his defense were truly exposed and conceded 6 goals in the last two matches of the two major competitions. 3 goals against Bosnia in the World Cup and three against Iraq in the quarter finals of Asian Cup. To make matters worse, Alireza Haghighi failed  to save any penalty kick in the penalty shootout as Iran was knocked out from the Asian Cup.


All this was happening when two of the most experienced goalkeeper in Iran, Mehdi Rahmati and Rahman Ahmadi , were enjoying a holiday back home as Queiroz did not seem to believe in their abilities nor their skills.

Queiroz issue with Rahmati and some other players is a problem that is quite clearly undermining Team Melli. His personal antipathies against certain staff and players like Khalatbary , Mojtaba Jabbari, Hadi Aghili , Majid Saleh , Ali Karimi  amongst many others are leaving the team handicapped and nothing is more evident than in between the three posts where the absence of the experienced Rahmati was felt.

Queiroz is only a part of the entire problem as Iran’s football system seems to have a distinct lack of ability to produce quality goalkeepers. It is also evident that the goalkeeping coaches are not of a high caliber at clubs and junior teams’ levels.

Iran's goalkeeper Haghighi fails to save a goal by Argentina's Messi during their 2014 World Cup Group F match at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte

  Iran’s goalkeeping problem is not new either. For more than a decade, Iran has been suffering from lack of quality goalkeepers. Ebrahim Mirzapour and his generation of keepers did not enhance the reputations of Iranian keepers, before Rahmati came into the scene. However, even Rahmati, arguably still the best keeper in Iran (not according to Queiroz, of course) , had difficulties like poor handling of aerial balls which marred his good records.

While goalkeeping is the least popular of posts amongst young players and good keepers are always in demand, the lack of production of quality keepers which requires a careful study and planning from the root level , could very well be a serious problem in the near future for Team Melli.

“Queiroz support has turned into a theatrical show ” Amir Ghalenoei .

Amir Ghalenoei once again invigorated his clash with Carlos Queiroz and accused the Portuguese coach suitors of turning a national mayhem after the defeat against Iraq into a patriotic triumph by manipulating the Iranian people’s fervor for Team Melli.

“It was all a big show. I swear that all this was orchestrated and arranged by people whose interest and livelihood are depended on Queiroz being the coach of Team Melli. Nothing like what we have experienced recently has been seen in Iran football before. No Team Melli coach had been spared the wrath of the media and had so much support after defeat in the Asian Cup. Queiroz lost to Iraq but his supporters are turning this defeat into a victory similar to when our team hit six goals past the mighty South Koreans in Asian Cup 1996!”

Mehrdad Pouladi heads the ball during a group F World Cup soccer match between Bosnia and Iran at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador

Ghalenoei and Queiroz have been entangled in a war of word for nearly two seasons. There is no love lost between the two with accusations and counter accusation becoming a routine and regular event. Neither of the two is willing to put a cap on it.

“These people, the ones who profit from Quieroz, have an agenda and have set a careful program. Every time there is something negative happening to Team Melli, they act. This Team Melli which had the highest budget allocated to it in the history of our Football gets beaten by the weakest and the most ill prepared Iraqi team with the lowest possible budget, so ,  his cohorts get into action with their goodies and start their campaign of support. If Carlos Queiroz is a great coach, why does he need a telephone poll to prove it?  He should prove his worth in the football field and start bringing trophies. They push Team Melli players into the media directing them to say that Queiroz must stay to the extent that some spell doom and gloom for our football if Queiroz leaves! You don’t have to believe me, go and do some research and then come back and tell me if I am wrong.” Esteghlal’s head coach told the media in the pre-match press conference before his team match against Peykan on Sunday.


Queiroz was not the only recipient of Ghalenoei’s strong words, as the fiery Esteghlal coach gave Fereydoon Moeini , an ex-Team Melli player and a member of the feeble and benign Technical Committee of the FFIRI, a piece of his mind.

“This Mr. Fereydoon Moeni, and without much thought , comes up and claims that Queiroz is  the only coach in the history who gave young players the chance to play in Team Melli! Where were you when Mayeli-Kohan, Ali Daei , Ghotbi and me introduce so many new players to Team Melli? Where were when I was the coach of Team Melli and created a brand new team that actually won a title for Iran? I have no issues with anyone who wants to support Queiroz , but don’t lie to people , don’t fabricate or twist facts to turn it to his benefit. Don’t insult the rest of Iranian coaches to elevate this man, you are insulting a nation.”

And the war of words continues an abated.

Great tournament but Asia still fights credibility gap

SYDNEY Sun Feb 1, 2015 3:48am GMT

(Reuters) – There is no doubt that to some jaundiced eyes, Australia winning the Asian Cup at their third attempt will be just further evidence of the weakness of the game on the world’s most populous continent.

The Socceroos became the eighth different winners of the title in the 16th edition of the continental tournament with their 2-1 victory over South Korea after extra time in front of 76,000 fans at Stadium Australia.

It was a Saturday night thriller worthy of bringing a close to a tournament that was organised with usual Australian efficiency and embraced by a nation normally in thrall to cricket and tennis at this time of year.

sardar azmoun Iraq

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I thought it was a beautiful game. It’s what football is all about,” Australia coach Ange Postecoglou told reporters after a pulsating match.

“It’s a final. It’s two teams going at it, giving everything they’ve got because they know what’s on the line. No team took a backward step.”

Postecoglou had joked earlier in the tournament about his team giving headaches to FIFA statisticians trying to figure out how such a lowly ranked team could be playing such good football.

The fact is though, for all the anomalies of the ranking system, Saturday night’s final matched the 100th-ranked hosts against the 69th ranked Taegeuk Warriors.

Both countries were among a four-strong Asian contingent that returned from last year’s World Cup in Brazil without a win between them.

Player of the Tournament, Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo, will fly back to Europe this week to rejoin Swindon’s campaign for promotion from England’s third tier.

The energetic 22-year-old may not be stuck in Wiltshire for too long, though, after he sealed a breakthrough campaign with a well-struck goal to give Australia the lead in the final.

That goal undoubtedly helped him edge out Omar Abdulrahman for the top player award despite the 23-year-old Emirati leaving a bigger stamp on the tournament with his exquisite ball skills and imagination.

Another of the standout players of the tournament, attacking midfielder Son Heung-min, recovered from illness early in his stay in Australia to take South Korea very close to ending their 55-year wait for a third Asian title.

There was plenty of quality goalkeeping on show as well with Australia’s 22-year-old Mat Ryan taking the award for the top shotstopper and also perhaps destined for a bigger European league than Belgium’s top flight.

Kim Jin-hyeon might have claimed the award had South Korea won the final having helped his team keep clean sheets in all their matches until the final, while Uzbekistan custodian Ignatiy Nesterov also deserved a mention.

fans and players mingle in brisbane


Ali Makhbout was the top goalscorer of the tournament with five and his combination in attack with Abdulrahman and Ahmed Khalili made United Arab Emirates a threat to any side.

Of the bigger names to coming into the tournament, Tim Cahill’s brace in the quarter-final defeat of China took his tally to 39 goals in 80 internationals and proved there was plenty of life yet in the 35-year-old.

AC Milan striker Keisuke Honda’s disappointing campaign reflected that of Japan with their continuing problem of converting well-worked approach play into goals.

It was perhaps summed up when he blasted the opening penalty in the shootout against the UAE, that saw the defending champions crash out in the quarter-finals, high over the bar.

That came on the same night as the match of the tournament, when Iraq overcame Iran in a two-and-a-half hour rollercoaster ride played out in a sensational atmosphere in Canberra that ended with a 7-6 shootout victory to the 2007 champions.

That the match probably turned on the controversial dismissal of Iran’s Mehrdad Pooladi by Australian referee Ben Williams was a reminder that Asia still has plenty of work to do to improve the quality of officiating in the region.

Qatar’s early departure does not augur well for their hopes of qualifying at least once for the World Cup in 2018 before hosting the finals in 2022, while the decline of three-times champions Saudi Arabia continued as they were bounced out in the group stage for the second tournament in a row.

Carlos Queiroz’s work with Iran proved the value of quality coaching to mould raw Asian talent, while Postecoglou, South Korea’s Uli Stielike, Alain Perrin with a fast-improving China and Emirati Mahdi Ali also had good tournaments.

Postecoglou and German Stielike are at different stages in rejuvenation projects but after their experiences in the Asian Cup, will be confident of taking much stronger sides to represent the continent at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“The goal for this confederation should be to break the European and South American monopoly on the World Cup,” Postecoglou said.

“It’s a great achievement but it’s not the end of the journey. It’s the beginning for us.”


Australia lifts the AFC Asian Cup.

AUSTRALIA has been crowned champion of Asia after a thrilling 2-1 win against South Korea in tonight’s Asian Cup final.

James Troisi’s extra time strike proved the difference as the home side delivered a performance a whole nation can be proud of.

“It has to be our biggest achievement, we won a trophy,” former Socceroo John Aloisi said.

Massimo Luongo — who was named player of the tournament — further enhanced his reputation as a man to carry the national team into the post-Tim Cahill era by scoring the opening goal.

South Korea spoiled the party by equalising in second half injury time, but Australia bounced back in extra time.

“I’m no good for words right now, I’m just super proud of everyone … I couldn’t be happier,” Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou said.

“The courage the players showed tonight was enormous.

“I knew we’d finish stronger. We pride ourselves on being fit … it was just a matter of taking our chances and we did it.”

Postecoglou was thrilled with what the victory could do for the game in Australia.

“I know the whole country will be off their couches and won’t be able to sleep tonight,” he said.

“Hopefully from now on our Aussies can take on the world.”

The only negative on a banner night for the world game Down Under was what appeared to be another serious injury to Robbie Kruse.

Continue reading for all the highlights of the game.

The reasons behind Carlos Queiroz popularity.

Some would argue against it , but Carlos Queiroz has won the approval of many Iranian football fans in his 4 years at the helm.

 Despite Iran  being knockout of the quarter finals of AFC Asian Cup 2015, despite the paltry showing in the FIFA World Cup 2014 , despite his team performing a dull defensive style lacking in finesse and the beauty of the game, and despite his team lacking creative players or stars , Carlos Queiroz remains a popular figure amongst the fans.

There could be quite a few reasons behind this popularity. Normally, a football coach who does not win anything of significance or championship titles does not endear himself to the fans and neither does he become popular. In Queiroz’s case, there are a few elements that defy the theories of popularity.

There are diverse reasons for him to remain popular in Iran and not all sides agree on the real reasons, while some even question that he is actually a popular coach.

Cynics point to the low level of Iranian fans aspirations and ceiling of expectations as one reason for the level of approval of Queiroz. A country that has won no Asian Cup at all since 1976 habitually becomes conditioned to failures and disappointments, some critics claim. “The Iranian football fans have grown accustomed to hearing bad news and Team Melli under achieving. They get used to it while they look for fulfillment elsewhere like in a player or a coach that they can brag about.” Said a former player and a current coach who wished to remain anonymous. “When expected to but fail to win titles and fall short, the fans develop immunity against failure and get used to it. It is not a big shock anymore after a few disappointments”

This brings us to the case of Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger, where the Portuguese coach of Chelsea said that “he (Wenger) is used to failure.” Implying that a defeat is a normal event for Arsenal!

Another theory in the case of Queiroz popularity is the fact that Iranian fans are growing tired and despondent of their own coaches and their antics. The likes of Mayeli-Kohan, Daei , Ghalenoei and others have not reflected a good image of Iranian coaches as professionals and as genuine characters. For ever complaining, blaming earth and sky for their failures and lacking grace in defeat, Iranian coaches have also been blamed for major failures at club and Team Melli levels. As such, suddenly a foreigner becomes popular because he is confronting the domestic coaches. That is regrettably a sad reflection on the local coaches’ stature in Iran.

Being a famous  high profile coach, who once coached the likes of Critiano Ronaldo, helps his popularity too.

 What can the Iranian coaches learn from Queiroz ? Not his tactics for sure nor his defensive mentality, however Carlos Querioz has a lot to offer for some of the local coaches. Tactical discipline on the field and character discipline off it, is one such virtue. Playing to your team’s strength, the will power to win difficult matches, not falling for player’s power and invincibility of some star players. There are several good qualities that Queiroz has which could be beneficial for the Iranian coaches.

While admittedly not a 5 star coach with exemplary behavior on and off the field, after all the Portuguese has an almost tyrannical attitude with zero tolerance for criticism, his good qualities has helped his popularity. If ever the egos of the local coaches allowed, they can improve themselves too

Alireza Faghani selected for the AFC Asian Cup final.

The Iranian Alireza Faghani (photo) has been selected to officiate the 2015 Asian Cup Final between Korea Republic and Australia in Sydney, Australia.

The 36-year-old referee will be assisted by his compatriots Reza Sokhandan and Mohammadreza  Abolfazli in the match which will be played at the Stadium Australia. Fahad Al Mirdasi from Saudi Arabia will be the fourth official. After having been a reserve referee at 2011 Asian Cup and also at 2014 FIFA WC, Faghani has already officiated three group stage matches and a quarterfinal in this edition. Thus, this will be his fifth  apperance.

Nawaf Shukralla from Bahrain has been appointed to oversee the Third Place match, between Iraq and UA Emirates, to be played on 30 January in Newcastle at Newcastle Stadium. He will be assisted by his compatriots Yeaser Tulefat and Ebrahim Saleh, with Australian Benjamin Williams as fourth official.

Faghani has been consistently the best referee in Iran since the retirement of Moradi.


The future of Queiroz with Team Melli is dependent on haggling skills!

After the arrival of Team Melli from Australia, Ali Kaffashian who was in the airport to greet the team and warmly embraced Queiroz, did not waste much time to open the re-negotiations.

Kaffashian has previously announced that the renewal of Queiroz contract beyond the AFC Asian Cup was conditional on the results achieved at the competition. No further details were provided nor were an achievement target announced.

The word amongst some senior players of Team Melli and insiders indicate that Ali Kaffashian , forever satisfied with Carlos Queiroz, is ready to offer the Portuguese and extension of contract , but with a different remuneration package.

The President of the football federation, Ali Kaffashian will use his hardcore skill in bargaining and haggling, to lower Queiroz salary alleged to be the 4th highest in the world by a National Team Manager.  What is certain is that Queiroz will be experience a repeat of the long and winding negotiations of last summer when the two sides eventually agreed on the terms of a new contract, ostensibly conditional on the progress of Team Melli in Australia.

Carlos Queiroz will have a valuable bargaining chip up his sleeve this time with the approval of many fans and experts after the Asian Cup. Whether the team coming away from Australia empty handed is good enough for the football federation is another story. There was no target for Queiroz to achieve at the Asian Cup, at least not publicly. However, reading between the lines of what Kaffashian has stated, he was not required to win the title. That said, the fact that this team did not lose any match, would be a strong point for Queiroz case.  Now the Portuguese needs to practice his own bargaining skills against the masters.