Tag: FIFA World Cup

Taremi determined to power Iran to 2026 Finals

Taremi determined to power IR Iran to 2026 Finals
www.the-afc.com – AFC ASIAN QUALIFIERSTUE, 25 JUNE, 2024

Kuala Lumpur: The pain of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s semi-final exit at the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ still stings for Mehdi Taremi but, as the striker tells the-AFC.com, he is choosing to look towards the future; to his impending move to Serie A giants Inter Milan and to what he hopes will be another FIFA World Cup Finals appearance.

No nation knows semi-final heartbreak at the AFC Asian Cup quite like IR Iran; on seven occasions since 1976 – the most recent of the country’s three consecutive continental titles – Team Melli have fallen one hurdle before the tournament’s deciding match.

The latest loss remains fresh in the mind of Mehdi Taremi, the talismanic striker whose goals in recent years have been one of the drivers of his country’s qualification for the last two FIFA World Cup Finals, but who continue to fall short of a fourth AFC Asian Cup.

The 3-2 defeat to hosts Qatar – the defending champions who would go on to retain the title – in February hurt so much that Taremi has refused to watch reruns of the game and shies away from discussing the defeat.

#AsianCup2023 | Semi-final : Islamic Republic Of Iran 2 - 3 Qatar

“After the Qatar game, I never saw the game and I haven’t talked until now about that game,” he tells the-AFC.com. “I don’t want to look back and think about the past.

“We’re always thinking about what is in front of us. We’re looking forward to the next step and who we are going to play against.

“It’s still painful. I think we deserved to win the Asian Cup. We created a lot of chances there, we missed a lot of chances but that’s football.”

Missing scoring opportunities is not a characteristic often associated with Taremi. The 31-year-old hit a hat-trick against Hong Kong, China earlier this month to record his 48th goal in 804 matches as he continued his long-standing run of form for Iran.

It is his ability in front of goal that has seen Taremi establish himself among the leading scorers in European club football since his move to Portugal to join Rio Ave from Al Gharafa in Qatar before a subsequent move to Porto, where he has spent the last four seasons.

Taremi’s time on the Iberian peninsula, however, has come to an end with the expiration of his contract with the Estadio de Dragao-based club, and a new adventure in Italy with Inter Milan awaits.

“That five years, it has created this Mehdi,” he says of his time in Portugal, where he scored 112 times in 217 games in all competitions.

“I have become a more experienced guy, I have become a more professional guy and all of those people who have helped me there I appreciate all of those guys, the staff the players at Rio Ave club and at Porto as well. They have created this Mehdi.

“When you play in Asia and in Europe it’s completely different. There you have to be more professional, otherwise you cannot play at a high level.

“In Asia you have to too, but how they play there is faster and quicker and the games are at a higher level. When you play in the UEFA Champions League you have to be ready, you have to play against big players, big teams and that has made me different.”

Taremi’s ability in front of goal led to significant speculation over his next destination and, while the rumour mill generated talk of numerous possibilities, it was the newly crowned Italian champions who won the battle for his signature.

It is a move the Bushehr-born forward is relishing as it presents him with another opportunity to feature once more in the UEFA Champions League.

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“Inter has a strong team and from what I’ve seen on the TV the players are friendly, the team are strong and they are compact, together,” he says.

“I think there is a good feeling there between the players and the coaches. Inter is a big club and because of that I chose Inter. I want to play in Italy, I want to show myself there too.

“Since I was seven, eight years old I saw a lot of games in Italy, Spain, England, everywhere. When you watch the games you’re a supporter of the big clubs and Inter is one of those. I remember many things of Inter in the UEFA Champions League, in the league and the history of Inter and that makes me happy to go there. It convinced me to go there.

“My goal is to help the team as I can. I’ll try to do my job, scoring and assists. So let’s see what’s going to happen.”

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While Taremi will be adjusting to his new surroundings at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza – better known around the world as San Siro – he will also be attempting to ensure Iran qualify for another FIFA World Cup finals.

Having failed to score in his first FIFA World Cup appearance in Russia in 2018, Taremi was twice on target at Qatar 2022 against England and his aim is to improve on that tally in the Canada, Mexico and United States edition in 2026.

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“I always try to think about football and about my future,” he says. “I put a lot of effort each day into my job.

“The main goal is, first of all we have to go to the World Cup, and then my main goal is I have to try my best to score more than two goals at the next World Cup. So let’s see.”

Ghalenoei “We will build a younger team for the World Cup”

Amir Ghalenoei, Team Melli head coach, briefly commented on the status of the squad preparing for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, saying: “Fortunately, the team’s conditions are very good. Those players who were worthy, in our opinion, were invited to the national team with different tactical thoughts. Let’s talk in a more detailed program. Considering the short time until the Asian Cup, a short-term plan was drawn up for this purpose but the longer-term plan is to prepare the team for the World Cup with younger players. Other players deserved to be in the squad, but due to the limitation on the number of players we could select, we decided on this list.”

“We went through the list meticulously to finalize these 26 players,” Ghalenoei said.

on the friendly match versus Burkina Faso, he said “Burkina Faso is ranked 57th in FIFA ranking and sitting close to Saudi Arabia. It is a very good team. I noticed some people criticized the selection of that team. Of course, every team we play with will be criticized. We can test our two tactics against them and it will be a serious test. I thank the officials of Kish for paying for this game. I ask all my loved ones to put aside all love and hatred in this month. One day is Amir Ghalenoei, one day is Mr. Queiroz and one day is Mr. Ghotbi. It is important to support the national team at this time. We do everything we can.”

Ghalenoei then went on a rant about patriotism and how everyone should be quiet and just support the team without any criticism.

Like his predecessors, Ghalenoei as a Head Coach is no exception when it comes to being criticized and loathing towards those media that point out his shortfalls. It seems that he is mostly affected by the severe criticism of his aging squad both in the online media and the social media. His claim about building a younger team after the Asian Cup is perhaps a small token of admission that with such an aging team that he picked up for the Asian Cup, the oldest amongst the main contenders for the Asian Cup, it will be that much more difficult to achieve success.

12 years later it is confirmed that Ahmadinejad fired Ali Daei!

 in April 2009, after  Team Melli’s defeat against Saudi Arabia in the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010  qualifiers, it was suddenly announced that Ali Daei, the head coach of the Team, had been fired. The dismissal came while the Iranian team still had a good chance to advance to the World Cup, but with the dismissal of Daei and the presence of Afshin Ghotbi, Team Melli finally failed to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa and experienced a major setback.

Daei had repeatedly stated after the incident that his dismissal had nothing to do with the Football Federation and that institutions higher than the federation had decided to fire him. Although this claim was initially denied by the then president of the Football Federation, Ali Kafashian, over time, various interviews with federation officials and members of the national team at the time confirmes Daei’s claims.

However, today, Saturday, Mohammad Akhundi, who was the spokesman for the Physical Education Organization at the time, confirmed that the dismissal of Ali Daei, was a decision taken by the office of the Presidency and in particular the president himself (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad).

In this regard, Akhundi said “this decision was taken and announced in the presidential palace. They called me to announce the news, but I said that it was the responsibility of other people and the football federation to do so and not the PEO.” He added: “We refused to announce the dismissal of Ali Daei in the Physical Education Organization.”

The former spokesman for the Physical Education Organization, who was a guest in a radio program, was asked “Is it true that Ahmadinejad took that decision on his own?” He said: “What I know unofficially is that the President himself made this decision, but officially it came from the presidential Palace!. The justification for Daei’s dismissal was the pressure of public opinion, those around the group concluded that Ali was not to continue.

Akhundi was asked if Ali Daei’s dismissal was due to the fact that he did not allow Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to enter the locker room between the two halves of the Iran-Saudi game: “I have no information about this.” A former spokesman for the Physical Education Organization said: “That change (dismissal of Ali Daei) was wrong. If Daei continued, we would have probably qualified to the World Cup.”

Team Melli news

 Who will miss the Final Roster?

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

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

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

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

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

* League top scorer is out

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

* Choose 23 players from 36 people!

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

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

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

* Worrying days for Team Melli players

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

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

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

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

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




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


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




Team Melli is still without a sponsor!

The Iranian national team is without a sponsorship deal since the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia, as all efforts by the Football Federation to find a jersey sponsor and a commercial partner has failed to attract any interest.

The FIFA World Cup and the AFC Asian Cup are two of the most important official events in football in which the federation has been able to make a huge profit by accepting sponsors for Team Melli and covering the cost of preparation for the team. The last official contract was signed before the start of the World Cup and lasted up to the end of the tournament, although that deal was much criticized due to lack of transparency.

The Federation or the Marketing Department has repeatedly posted ads on the federation’s website and official newspapers inviting various companies and institutions, but no entity was willing to close a sponsorship with the FFIRI. As a result, Iran’s Team Melli had no sponsor for the World Cup 2022 and World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

Continuation of this problem, given the ambiguity on the resumption of World Cup qualifying matches after Corona’s eradication, could damage the national team’s preparation process as the FFIRI cannot financially meet the demands of the technical staff and the preparations required.

Much of this concern by sponsors revolves around the poor reputation of the administrators and managers of the federation. Corruption is endemic in Iran’s football and lack of transparency on the previous sponsorship deals raised many unanswered questions. Organizations prefer to stay away from this unwelcome PR.

Another stumbling block is the unreliability of the FFIRI in terms of respect for the contract. By the unilateral termination of contracts citing violations without proper evidence or legal backing, the FFIRI has set a bad precedent and created difficult situations on several occasions while it has spoiled its own reputation in the process

As such, none of these failures by inept FFIRI leadership is much of the surprise to the observers in Iran’s football. The FFIRI has a terminal lack of competent leadership as long as the extended hand of the government insists on installing puppets rather than competent administrators and inspiring leadership.

Javad Nekounam breaks the record of Team Melli all time appearnces

Finally , the current Captain of Team Melli, Javad Nekounam , broke Ali Daei’s record for the most number of matches while playing his 150th match against Qatar in Sydney.

Javad Nekounam , who started his international career in 2000 while a midfield player at Pas Tehran , has been consistently playing for Team Melli in the last 14 years in which he played in 2 World Cups (2006 , 2014) and 5 AFC Asian Cup ( 2000, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2015).

Nekounam is also the 4th highest scorer in Team Melli history , behind Ali Daei, Karim Bagheri and Ali Karimi , the 3 legendary stars of Iranian football. Nekounam has accumulated 37 goals , one less than Ali Karimi who is the third on the list.

Our sincere congratulation to Nekounam on this achievement.





Season Openin. Subst. Goals Yellows Reds
2000 1 5 0 0 0
2001 6 4 0 1 0
2002 11 1 0 1 0
2003 13 0 1 2 0
2004 18 0 7 3 0
2005 11 0 4 2 0
2006 11 0 2 2 0
2007 8 0 4 3 0
2008 8 0 4 1 0
2009 8 0 2 3 0
2010 6 0 1 1 1
2011 10 0 5 0 0
2012 8 1 1 1 0
2013 8 0 6 0 0
2014 8 1 0 3 0
2015 2 1 0 0 0
Total 137 13 37 23 1
By season | In opening squad | Substituted in | Goals | Yellow cards | Red cards