Tag: FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers

Korea Rep v Iran post match analysis.

It had to happen one day, as Team Melli lost to its nemesis South Korea after 11 years. It also meant the end of Dragan Skocic’s undefeated record extending two years and 15 matches. Iran lost to a full-strength Korea 2-0 in World Cup stadium in the top of the table clash of Group A FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.

Under the circumstances, it was an honorable defeat, if there is such a term and the result is hardly a source of shame but more rather a disappointment. Losing half of your fix starting players while playing against the top team in the group is in fact expected and fair. This does not indemnify the coach and player, however, as there were some shortfalls and gaps that need attention and analysis.

Starting at the lineup. Despite Skocic statement in the press conference that his team will not be playing a defensive game, his lineup and gameplan were exactly that!

There were six defenders in his team: Shojaa KHALILZADEH, Majid HOSSEINI , Milad MOHAMMADI, Hossein KANANI-ZADEGAN, Omid NOORAFKAN, and Ehsan HAJSAF . However one interprets that, it is still a defensive park-the-bus like lineup.

With a team like South Korea, such a plan will be a dream as it allows their players to keep the pressure up and keep coming at you time and time again until they score, and that is exactly what they did.

Opting for a defensive game plan was not the best option despite the half-strength team. Skocic actually only one defender in Moharrami who was easily replaceable without overhauling the team defense.

There was also this disturbing unconfirmed news that Khalilzadeh started the match carrying an injury sustained in training. It was clear that the defender was suffering and had to be substituted before halftime.

In the Goal:

Despite the horror of the first goal, where Amir Abedzadeh committed a real blunder, the keeper was at the top of his game and was at his best during the first half. His aerial superiority and timely interceptions and distribution of the ball were quite creditable. Even in the first few minutes of the second half, he managed to make a miraculous double save and thwarted Hueing Min Son several times. In the second goal, he was not to be blamed either.

The Defenders:

Skocic wanted to solidify this line to ensure the Koreans don’t turn their full-strength team into an advantage. The poor marking in addition to the clumsy handling by Abedzadeh, resulted in the first goal, but it was not only the keeper’s fault. Questions should be asked why 4 markers could not stop Son Heung-Min from shooting. That was feeble marking.  The second goal, however, was definitely poor marking which allowed the South Korean defender to find himself unmarked in the box and a simple tap-in to score.

On the positive side, the defense really cut the Korean supplies by giving Son Hueing Min very little breathing space. A world-class player like him can inflict real damage and despite scoring one goal the Iranian defenders deprive him of many.

Where were the Midfield players?  

Collectively, it was the worst of the 4 lines of the team. As the game plan required defending from deep, Skocic was counting of these players to form the first defense line, however, that was the Achilles Heals of the team. The defensive side of the midfield worked fine and relatively did what it was asked to do, but they all failed to support the lonely striker in Azmoun and were instrumental in having Azmoun experience one of his most futile matches with Team Melli.

The insistence of Gholizadeh and Nourollahi to send long balls or trying to pass the ball behind the Korean defense to Azmoun failed one time after another. In fact, during the whole match, Iran managed one such success in passing behind to Azmoun, which the striker managed to head mildly into the Korean keepers waiting arms.

Whether the two central midfielders were going according to the game plan or using their own initiatives, is unknown but that is a clear shortfall and needs to be addressed for future and more important games.

Jahanbakhsh and Ezatollahi were sorely missed in this match.

A One-man show at the front!

Basically, that was the case with Azmoun up front against South Korea. He drew a lonely and desperate figure. There was no chance in hell for Azmoun to create a threat let alone score with the little support he had from his teammates and their game plan. Frustrated and lonely, Azmoun was easily neutralized by the Koreans.


In general, the absence of 5 key players is significant for any team and a handicap against the strongest, but in hindsight, things could have been better. It is a loss that practically meant very little, but for the experience and future games, Skocic should have a big lesson to learn and study the match carefully to discover the loops and the gaps that lead to the loss. But once again, no big harm was done.

One point to end the subject. This match will surely be celebrated by the anti-Skocic camp, but then again let us not get fooled by them and their hidden agenda. Skocic’s reputation remains intact and would be prudent to support him all the way to Doha.

Skocic continues his 100% winning record.

While remote coaching his team from a hotel room where he is isolated due to Covid19, the Croat coach of Team Melli Dragan Skočić has set a record of 8 continuous wins in a row as Team Melli’s head coach after defeating Syria on Thursday.

Although this record might be at test comes next Tuesday against Iraq, Skocic enjoys a unique standing amongst Team Melli coaches. His perfect record so far is an irony as many people have doubted his ability to coach at the international level and at the highest competitions.

Football, however, remains a sport where the unexpected can occur and things will not always go according to the script.  With no international coaching in his resume, Dragan Skocic managed to assemble a good mix of players for Team Melli ensuring the injection of fresh blood especially the youth. His plan has worked well and despite his possible absence in Doha against Iraq, The Croat will hope to continue his winning record.

Overall Matches

Played Won Draw Loss GF GA Goal Diff
8 8 0 0 25 2 +23


Date Comp. Home team Away team Final score
30.03.2021 Friendly Uzbekistan Iran 1 – 2
2.11.2020 Friendly Bosnia-Herzegovina Iran 0 – 2
30.03.2021 Friendly Iran Syria 3 – 0
03.06.2021 World Cup Qualifier Iran Hong Kong 3 – 1
07.06.2021 World Cup Qualifier Iran Bahrain 3 – 0
11.06.2021 World Cup Qualifier Cambodia Iran 0 – 10
15.06.2021 World Cup Qualifier Iran Iraq 1 – 0
02.09.2021 World Cup Qualifier Iran Syria 1 – 0

Nizar Mahrous appointed as Head Coach of Syria

The former Syrian National team star and current coach Nizar Mahrous has been officially appointed as the head coach of Syria.

The Syrian Football Association decided to appoint Nizar Mahrous to succeed the Tunisian Nabil Maaloul who reigned after the federation failed to pay his wages. The Federation said in an official statement, published today, Wednesday: “After the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Syrian Arab Football Association, three days ago, and after studying and discussing the names proposed by the Technical Department, the Coaches Committee, and the National Teams Committee, and after communicating with the proposed names, it was decided to appoint Nizar Mahrous as Technical Director (Head Coach) .

Mahrous (58 years) was approached by the federation immediately after the departure of Maaloul, however, after the negotiations reached advanced stages, the former national Team player agreed. It is expected that Mahroos’s assistant technical and administrative staff will be announced at the end of next week.

This is the second stint of Mahrous with The Syrian National Football Team. In May 2011, Mahrous was appointed manager of Syria. On 24th August 2011, he quit after FIFA disqualified Syria from the 2014 World Cup qualifiers for fielding an ineligible player.

Mahroos, who has previously trained several local and Arab teams and achieved good results with them, has a very difficult task ahead, as he will lead the Syrian team in the third qualifying round for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. The Syrian team’s group included Iran, South Korea, the Emirates, Iraq, and Lebanon.

There was no mention of the contract details

Carlos Queiroz set to lead Iraq.

The former Team Melli head coach will aim to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with Iraq, a feat that has failed the Iraqis for 35 years.

Carlos Queiroz is the No. 1 candidate to lead the Iraq team, in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, after the team parted with coach Srecko Katanec.

Srecko Katanec has led the Iraqi team since 2018, helping the team qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup as well as advance to the final qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup. However, on July 15, he decided to leave the Iraqi team after 6 months without receiving a salary.

Very quickly, the Iraqi Football Federation targeted the famous coach Carlos Queiroz as a replacement. The Portuguese born in 1953 is currently unemployed, after terminating his job with the Colombian team in December 2020.

Carlos Queiroz is one of the most famous coaches in the world. He led the Portuguese team with Ronaldo to the 2010 World Cup. After that, he had 8 years with Team Melli, achieving a historic back-to-back qualification to the World Cup 2014 and 2018. Before that, he also twice. helped Portugal’s U20 team win the FIFA U20 World Cup in 1989 and 1991.

Carlos Queiroz is likely to lead the Iraqi team to the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Photo: Twitter Iraqi Football Federation.
Carlos Queiroz is likely to lead the Iraqi team to the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Photo: Twitter Iraqi Football Federation.

At the club level, Carlos Queiroz worked as an assistant to Alex Ferguson at Man United in his prime. In addition, he also had a season as a coach of Real Madrid, with the team winning the Spanish Super Cup.

According to local media, Carlos Queiroz is excited about the prospect of leading the Iraqi team. However, he also asked the Iraqi Football Federation to pay him 80% of his salary in advance, which is expected to be up to 1.75 million USD/year. It is expected that this week, the two sides will agree on the final terms.

In the final qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup, Iraq is in Group A with Iran, South Korea, UAE, Syria, and Lebanon. They will open the World Cup qualifying campaign with a match against South Korea away on September 2. On September 9, they will meet Iran at home. Historically, Iraq has only attended the World Cup once, in 1986.

Game review: Iran vs. Bahrain

Following the comprehensive 0 – 3 defeat against Iran in the return match of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers, Bahrain head coach Helio Sousa in his post-match statement 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 the space to do what they want,” said the Portuguese coach.

Sousa was accurate in his analysis but what he opted to mention was that he was outwitted by a less famous coach that hardly anyone has heard off beyond Iran and his homeland Croatia’s borders.

Dragan Skočić’s appointment as a head coach of Iran couldn’t have come at any worst time for himself and the team. The outbreak of the covid19 pandemic spoilt all his plans, in fact, he did not sit on the bench for his first match until 9 months after his 6th February 2020 appointment. His record now is a perfect 100%.

5 matches played 3 friendlies and 2 World Cup qualifiers so far. There is little doubt that he will make it 6 out of 6 comes Friday in the match against Cambodia.

There is no escaping the fact that Skočić is not a household name in Iran’s football as he coached lackluster or middle of the table teams before being appointed as Head Coach of Team Melli, however, in the few matches that he coached especially in the FIFA qualifiers, the 52 years old Croat has displayed a level of skill and vision that is unique. Give him the right players and this coach will bring glory to any team.

He rightly recognized that Jahanbakhsh despite his status is not delivering at the moment. He also rightly recognized that the team needs a skillful running player in the midfield who can supply quality balls to the forwards and hence Saman Ghoddos.

In the first half of the match against Bahrain, he recognized that Bahrain defensive plan is solid. It was a chapter from Carlos Queiroz’s book which his protégé Helios Sous has learned and implemented quite well in Bahrain National Team. Before the match against Iran, Bahrain conceded one goal only in six group matches. That proves how well their defensive plan is effective.

With that in mind, introducing a player such as Ghoddos, or Torabi was the best mean of beating such defenses. It worked quite well for Team Melli and Skočić was rightly delighted with his successful plan. The second goal scored by Azmoun had all the attributes and beauties of a great goal with amove started by Azmoun himself.

No plan will work unless you have the quality players. With Taremi and Azmoun, Skocic could not ask for more. At the end of the day, these two made the difference. Clearly, if they receive the services, they will deliver. In the case of Taremi, perhaps it is a question of focus and concentration as he seems to waste many scoring chances provided to him. Perhaps that is the ceiling of his abilities, but there might be some psychological work that Skocic and other coaches can work on increase his accuracy in front of the goal. He also needs to stop acting innocent and protesting whenever he misses the goal, or loses the ball and get on with the game.

Pouraliganji was an assuring figure when he came in. Although the pair Khalilzadeh and Kanai-Zadegan have performed well, they have not really been tested properly yet. The latter is a bit of a risk and lacks the experience of Pouraliganji. Shojaa Khalilzadeh is more solid but a player that could ignite at any time. Level heads and experience are really required in the center of defense.

The midfield of Team Melli must be credited for achieving the comprehensive victory against Bahrain. Their defensive and offensive roles were played quite efficiently. It was the midfield players who restricted Bahrain forwards and cut their supplies, although to be fair Bahrain midfield players were poor compared to their previous matches. Skocic bemoaned the loss of Amiri for the rest of the competition. Amiri had a very solid game against Bahrain. However, there are better players at the coach’s disposal, and Amiri’s absence against Iraq would not even be noticed.

Gholizadeh, Ezatollahi, Hajsafy, Torabi, Nourallahi, Jahanbakhsh are all available and do the job as well if not better than Amiri.

It was a good solid overall performance by Team Melli with some rough edges. The result was sweet and crucial. More of the same against Iraq will surely propel Iran to the next rounds of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.


Team Melli : Readniness and Analysis.

After a lot of huff and puff, threats, and taking the case to arbitration in CAS. Team Melli will have to play its return matches in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar in one venue, Bahrain. Apart from the fact that this is also the home ground of one of its main rival teams in the group, the dates of the matches in the midst of heat and humidity is oneself the greatest challenge for Team Melli in Bahrain.

However, the challenges for Iran to qualify for the World Cup for the third time running is enormous and do not end at the obvious bias against the Iranians. Iran however, should brush the politics aside and focus on the field.

Dragan Skocis has been to Kish island to review the facilities as Team Melli will be camping in the Persian Gulf resort prior to the qualifications in June. The facilities, climate, and pitches are ideal for Team Melli to have good practice sessions.

In its only international friendly so far, Team Melli played an acceptable and satisfactory match against Syria winning by a 3-goal margin. The result, however, did not reflect the game as Syria was not deserving of a 3 goal defeat while Team Melli was not the dominant team of the match. In any case, Team Melli remains undefeated under Skocic and that is fine, except we have to remember that under the woeful Wilmots, the Belgian coach gave the fans a false impression of superiority as the results of victories in his first 3 matches.  So, while three wins out of three look good on paper and for the archive, however,  it could be misleading.

In this article, we will address what seems like a shortcoming observed in the last couple of years and in the team under Skocic.

Dysfunctional midfield.

Starting from the goalkeeper, it is quite safe to say that Team Melli is enriched by the presence of Alireza Beiranvand with capable replacements in the shape of Niazmand and Hamed Lak. Even third and fourth choice of keepers are dependable enough in the present squad.

The same can be said of the defense and forward line where Skocic is spoilt for choice. The two new debutants, Salmani and Jalai were excellent additions as they performed against Syria. It gives the fans a lot of confidence. In the forward line, there is no argument as Team Melli has its two most expensive and valuable assets in Azmoun and Taremi while Ansarifard, Sayyadmanesh, Shahbazadeh are all capable force on their own.

The worry is the midfield. With Shojaei and Dejagah leaving the team, a big gap is evident. Iran lacks a maestro in the midfield team, a strong player who can lead and dictate the pace against tough oppositions. With weaker, or less capable teams, coaches resort to a tactic where they fill the midfield with 5+1 players. The lone striker also becoming an additional midfield player.  As such, any opposing team that needs to score in such a scenario must have a strong capable midfield. A set of players who can break this 6 players midfield cum deep defense by skillful manipulation of the ball, quick passing and perimeter offensive crosses. Iran can find itself in such a situation against Bahrain and Iraq both of whom set deep and pounce on counterattacks.

 Vahid Amiri has been a regular for many years and he is a fine player too but hardly a player who would shine and play a leading role in a difficult match.

Ahmad Nourallahi has been steady lately and has fine attributes including some fierce long-range shots, but like his club mate, lacks the character and the leadership qualities in midfield. The team captain Ehsan Hajsafy is now operating in midfield. His defensive work is immaculate, but he has lost his offensive traits in changing his role from right back. The only dependable and consistent midfielder is Omid Ebrahimi. However, Ebrahimi is aging and in dire need of proper and quality support.

Azmoun and Taremi, need good supply of passes and crosses from their teammates to finish the job, particularly from the midfield players. Their value and importance will be diminished with an also-ran ineffective midfield. They need much better support and quality players behind them.

Players Mental toughness & Attitude.

Iranian players suffer from weak mental toughness. While physically they are amongst the best in Asia and when it comes to individual skills, the same can be claimed, their mentality, attitude, and professionalism are far from the best, in fact, it is a liability.

The reason behind this is debatable and needs and discussion of its own but signs of weak mental agility and professionalism are evident all the time. Many other weaker teams have noticed this weakness in Iranian players and at times they have cleverly taken advantage and managed to beat Iran.

There is a tendency for the Iranian players to become emotional and irrational under pressure. They easily lose their calm and concentration. Shrewd and crafty opponents use this weakness to intimidate and harass the Iranian players leading them to lose their temper and fall foul of the law.

The examples are aplenty and the solution is well beyond National Team coaches like Skocic. It is a cultural problem and starts from the roots. While the young talented kids grow up to become skillful players, in the midst of all that, the art of discipline, self-restraint, the rationale is not in the syllabus of Iranian coaches. Many of the coaches themselves lack these traits and are a bad example for the kids. Just switch on the TV and watch any Iranian league match and observe how the coaches behave on the touchline to get an idea.

All that Skocic can do at this stage is to remind his players over and over again,  to concentrate on playing football, and not to lose their heads under pressure. It also is a good idea for him to be a strict disciplinarian and to the level of banning players from the team if there are major disciplinary issues on the field or in training camp.

Although Carlos Queiroz was very good in the discipline department, he was not truly exemplary because he himself had short fuse and was liable to combust at any time.

Sardar Azmoun scores a brace for Zenit

Sardar Azmoun scored a brace in the match between FK Sochi and Zenit St. Petersburg in the Russian Premier League match on Sunday 11th April.

The home team opened the scoring through Nikita Burmistrov in the 58th minute, but the visitors equalized with a powerful header by Team Melli forward, Sardar Azmoun from a cross by Jarosław Rakicki.

Azmoun then scored the winner and his team’s second goal with another well-placed header out of reach of the stretching keeper.
This was Azmoun’s 15th goal of the season in the Russian League. He heads the top scorers’ list ahead of his striking partner and Teammate Dzuba, who has two goals less to his credit.
Zenit leads the table by 7 points margin in the 25th week of the season and looks a firm favorite to retain the title this season and lift the championship trophy before the end of the season.
After the match in an interview with the official Broadcaster of the Russian league, Azmoun was asked what he thought of him leading the top scorers’ table with 15 goals, to which the Iranian striker said that he is much more important for him to win the title with his teammates rather than achieving individual honors.
Sardar is expected to lead Team Melli on the 3rd of June against Hong Kong , in the return legs of FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifiers

Third test for Dragan Skocic

Team Melli and will face Syria in an international friendly today (Tuesday) at 17:30 in Azadi Stadium as part of the preparation for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.
In recent years, Iran and Syria have faced each other in various competitions. The matches between the two teams in the World Cup qualifier in Russia in both round-trip matches ended in a draw, but with the change of Iran’s training cadre and the arrival of Wilmots, Team Melli inflicted a heavy 5-0 defeat to the Syrians in a friendly match.
Since then, the coaches of both teams have changed and now Syria is in a much better position than Iran in the World Cup qualifiers.

Iranian national team
Dragan Skocic will have his third coaching experience with Team Melli against Syria. He has already managed to achieve a perfect record with two victories in two matches defeating Uzbekistan and Bosnia. The Croatian coach’s whole effort is to prepare a team of the best Iranian players to claim a place in the World Cup qualifiers next round and defeat both Iraq and Bahrain in order to clinch one of the places.
With the exception of a few players who were unable to accompany the national team due to injuries or travel restrictions during the spread of the Coronavirus, Skocic has invited most of the top players inside and outside Iran, although as always there have been criticisms in some posts.

However, the return of Taremi, Azmoun, Beiranvand, etc. to the national team in this camp compared to the earlier one is good news for the fans of Team Melli who always want to see a full-strength team in action. As in previous camps, the Croatian coach has invited several young and lesser-known players, and it remains to be seen what the consequences of their presence in the national team will be.

Given Bahrain hosting the third qualifying group for the World Cup in Asia, Skocic and his team are working very hard to advance to the next stage and must use the same friendly games to increase the quality and preparation of the national team.

Syrian national team
The Syrian national team recently played a friendly match against Bahrain, and lost 3-1, with some Syrian media and fans criticizing their coach. However, Nabil Maaloul, who has a track record of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with the Tunisian national team, has achieved brilliant results in the first group of the World Cup together with Syria and is in first place above China.

Syria has almost reached the third round of the World Cup and is now preparing for the toughest stage of the tournament to complete the unfinished work of the previous round. They lost four years ago in their last World Cup qualifier against Uruguay and failed to qualify for the World Cup.
Omar Al-Suma (due to injury) and Omar Al-Kharbin (lifelong suspension from the national team) are not present in this match as two prominent strikers, but other main Syrian players have come to Tehran. This meeting is very important for Syria in terms of results and readiness.

“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.

World Cup qualifiers to be changed yet again!

There are strong indications that the upcoming two FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers of Team Melli against Cambodia and Hong Kong will be postponed and the possibility of playing all the remaining rounds of matches in a round-robin format in one country. This has made Dragan Skocic’s mission of qualifying that much harder for several reasons.

While some countries have suggested that the remaining matches should be held centrally because of the coronavirus, there are others that oppose that idea and insisting that the matches should be carried out on a home and away basis as normal while strictly observing health protocols and compliance with Covid19 prevention conventions.

Currently, several Asian countries are continuing ahead with football activities behind closed doors. The league competitions are held in this way in most countries and one of them is Iran.

It is natural for the Iranian Football Federation FFIRI to resist holding the games in a centralized venue, because Team Melli is hosting three of the remaining 4 games, and now if it is to play in a centralized venue, it will be deprived of home advantage. According to the Football Federation, the AFC has not yet sent a letter to the member states regarding the manner of holding the remaining games, and as far as the FFIRI is concerned, it would follow the last original schedule. However, it is hardly unlikely that such an arrangement will prevail. If the Asian Football Confederation decides to hold the remaining matches centrally, the Iranian Football Federation will vote for Qatar as the host of the games.

Another country that has announced its readiness to host Iran Group Games is the UAE. Interestingly, if the games are finalized in one centralized venue, the matches will be held at later dates possibly June 2021.

One issue with the single venue is that the matches will be held intensively, and this round of qualifiers will have to be over in less than two weeks. All teams must play 4 matches within 14 days.

In this scenario, the remaining qualifying rounds of FIFA World Cup 2022 matches will probably be held after the end of the league season, which means that Team Melli will not have a program in April.

Without a doubt, these will be stressful times for all the teams in the qualifiers and most of the teams need to go back to the drawing board to reschedule and change their plans. For Team Melli, it is of the utmost importance to arrange friendly matches to prevent the squad from being inactive and stagnant if the matches are to be held in June 2021.