Tag: Habib Kashani

Zlatko Kranjcar is a leading candidate to coach Omid team.

The Iranian Football Federation is considering the appointment a head coach of Iran’s U23 (Omid) team to prepare and represent the country in the Asian Games 2018  Jakarta, although the team has already wasted a lot of opportunity, as the FFIRI Technical Committee should have selected a coach last month.

Federation officials have been negotiating with some domestic and foreign coaches during the past few days. Even the president of the federation, Mahdi Taj, told reporters yesterday that the talks are continuing, and this week the coach’s name will be announced.

The former head coach of the Sepahan squad Zlatko Krancjar, who failed to meet expectations this season with the Esfahani club, is one of the main choices for the federation, and even the Football Federation’s secretary Mohammad Reza Saket had talks with the Croatian coach.

FFIRI has always been a failure with the U23/U22 teams. For some odd reason, they have never managed to get their acts together at this age level and seem to have some complex on how to deal at this age level football teams. Most of the problems are self-inflicted, though including their chronic late preparation, and last minute search for a coach and finally poor preparations.

Krancjar, who has arrived in Tehran for a few days, is a favorite with the Federation officials who have started serious talks with him. It was confirmed that a meeting was carried out with federation officials in one of the hotels in Tehran, but the results are not clear.

Krancjar was the main choice to be the head coach of the Omid team in in December 2014 under the leadership of Habib Kashani, but the blatant intervention of the Ministry of Sports who claimed that the Croat does not conform for ethical/religious values (…), eventually meant that the federation so dependent on the government, had to shelve the idea of recruiting Karanjcar. Th coaching of the team was given to the novice coach Mohammad Khakpour, who failed to achieve anything and also failed to qualify for the Olympics.

Big blow for Omid team.

Iran Olympics football Team U 23, Omid Team received a setback when it was confirmed that 3 of its top players will not be competing in the finals of the AFC U23 championship which is also the qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Men Olympics Games Football competition.

Sardar Azmoun, Saeed Ezatollahi and Alireza Jahanbakhsh will not be part of the squad that will be competing in Doha in two weeks time.

Habib Kashani , the head of Team Omid said “These 3 players are registered as professionals in European club. We were unable to obtain the release from their respective clubs. The competition for the Olympics are not played in FIFA days and as such these clubs are not obliged to release their players for their national representative teams. All these clubs will be either busy in their own league competitions or preparing for the league as the case with the two Russian based players are.”

Sardar Azmoun, Saeed Ezatollahi  (FC Rostov) and Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar) are also in Team Melli squad in addition to playing for the U23 team. Their  quality and European experience is considered vital for the Omid team which is trying to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 40 years. Kashani , however, played down the significance of the 3 players absence and said that their team has been mainly competing and training without the 3 players most of their campaign and their absence for the final will not produce a shock for the team.

Iran, under coach Mohammad Khakpour,  will be playing in Group A with host Qatar , Syria nd China. Omid’s first match will be on 12th January against Syria U23.

Khakpour announces Omid Team plans.

Mohammad Khakpour, Iran’s U23 (Omid) coach announced his plans for the team from now until January 2016, when Iran will join 15 other finalist in a tough battle to qualify for the Rio De Janeiro Olympics football competition. The final rounds of the qualification for Rio Olympics will be held in Doha, Qatar.

In his briefing with the sport journalist, Khakpour express his gratitude to the clubs who helped the case of Omid team with their timely release of the players for the inaugural WAFF U23 tournament. Khakpour was over joyed by the results achieved in this first tournament of its kind, where Iran’ U23 won the title defeating Syria 2-0 in the final.

“The first order of business in to set up a short camp in UAE, were we were hoping to play against Iraq and Australia. The latter match is 100% confirmed but the Iraq match is yet to be finalized” Khakpour said. “After that we will be going to Turkey foe another short camp followed by a local camp either in Kish Island or in Khuzistan (Ahvaz). We hope that by that time , we will have all our players available for the best preparation of the squad.” Khakpour continued.

The reporters then quizzed Khakpour on several topics including the readiness of  Arya Hashemi. Khakpour said that this player will not be fit on time to join the team.

About Iran’s prospect for qualifying to that eluded prize of Olympic Games, Khakpour responded “We should be under no illusion that qualifying to the next round from the group is not an easy task at all. Qatar is the host, China is one of the strongest teams in Asia at that age level, and we have all seen Syria play against us with strength and skill. So, it is not going to be an easy task, but we are not going there to surrender either.”


About his abrupt resignation after winning the WAFF U23 tournament, Mohammad Khakpour admitted his mistake as he particularly apologized for Mohammad Mayeli-Kohan and Habib Kashani for this hasty move. “Both these gentlemen put a lot of faith in me and I let them down. I like to sincerely apologize to them and also to my compatriots for such an act and admit that it was out of emotions and not rational.”  the Iranian U23 team coach said. Khakpour also apologized for the media in an unprecedented move!  As such , this is a rare occasion that an Iranian coach admits his fault and apologized for it. So, there is still hope left in Iranian coaches!

The head coach of U23 team however, did not conceal his disappointment with Ali Kaffashian and the general lack of support for Omid Team from the federation. Khakpour said that the main reason for his resignation was the one-sided contract that he was offered in which he was held accountable for everything , while it hardly mentioned anything about the federations responsibilities.

2016 AFC U-23 Championship

Qualified teams

The following 16 teams qualified for the final tournament

Team Qualified as Appearance Previous best performance
 Qatar Hosts 1st Debut
 Iraq Group A winners 2nd Champions (2013)
 Jordan Group B winners 2nd Third place (2013)
 Saudi Arabia Group C winners 2nd Runners-up (2013)
 United Arab Emirates Group D winners 2nd Quarter-finals (2013)
 Syria Group E winners 2nd Quarter-finals (2013)
 Australia Group F winners 2nd Quarter-finals (2013)
 North Korea Group G winners 2nd Group stage (2013)
 South Korea Group H winners 2nd Fourth place (2013)
 Japan Group I winners 2nd Quarter-finals (2013)
 China PR Group J winners 2nd Group stage (2013)
 Thailand 1st best runners-up (Group G) 1st Debut
 Iran 2nd best runners-up (Group C) 2nd Group stage (2013)
 Vietnam 3rd best runners-up (Group I) 1st Debut
 Yemen 4th best runners-up (Group D) 2nd Group stage (2013)
 Uzbekistan 5th best runners-up (Group E) 2nd Group stage (2013)

[divider size=”5″ margin=”20″]

12 January 2016
Syria  v  Iran
12 January 2016
Qatar  v  China PR

15 January 2016
China PR  v  Syria
15 January 2016
Iran  v  Qatar

18 January 2016
Qatar  v  Syria
18 January 2016
Iran  v  China PR


Kaffashian confirms AFC sanction against Khakpour.

Ali Kaffashian who has attended the first New AFC Executive committee meeting in Manama, Bahrain confirmed in an interview that the AFC technical Committee does not recognize Mohammad Khakpour as a qualified trainer/coach for Iran’s U-23 team.

Khakpour , with little if any coaching experience at top level football was surprisingly selected to replace Nelo Vingada the coach of Iran’s U23 team or the Olympics team. This was carried out shortly after the disastrous exit of the U-23 team in the Asian games, one of the worst defeats of an Iranian representative team in the history. Widespread condemnations from the media, fans and experts, forced Kaffashian to react to save this team which was supposed to qualify for the Olympics Games in Rio. However, the man who is world famous for his grin and cool demeanor, acted hastily in an attempt to quell what was now some strong disapproval within the federation as well.

The selection of Mohammad Khakpour ahead of many qualified, more experienced and more competent coaches, domestic or foreign shocked many. In essence, FFIRI under Kaffashian could not have done any worse than such a move. To put icing on the cake, Habib Kashani and Mohammad Mayeli-Kohan were also appointed as managers in different capacities for the U23 team.

kaffashian salman alkhalifa24028

So, It was not very surprising nor very long before the fans experienced the result in such incompetency. Iran U23 lost against arch rivals Saudi Arabia in Tehran, in the penultimate game of the Asian Qualifiers for the Rio Olympic Games 2016. Iran was hosting the group but could not qualify directly to the next stage. Complete failure and elimination from the first step was avoided by the virtue of qualification to the final rounds as one of the best 5 groups runner ups. The final rounds of qualifications will be held in Qatar on January 2016.

The AFC came into the picture after examining the coaching certificates of Khakpour and found it below the minimum required to coach the U23 team. Khakpour has a coaching certificate in USA not recognized by FIFA or AFC. As such Mohammad Khakpour is not allowed to coach this team unless he attends a proper FIFA or AFC coaching course and passes the required tests.

Kaffashian’s attempt to dodge the issue of proper qualification of coaches mandated by FIFA and AFC resulted in a meeting with the Asian Technical Director Andy Roxburgh. The Scottish coach has been recently appointed in order to enhance Asian coaches education and player development.

Kaffashian, a Vice-President of AFC, failed to present a solid case for Khakpour’s appointment and could not respond to why his Khakpour’s credentials were not checked according to the AFC regulations. The verdict was clear and it stood as is. If Khakpour does not attend the proper certified AFC or FIFA coaching courses, he will be banned from sitting on the bench of Iran’s U23 team during official competitions.

True to his style, Kaffashian attempting to relegate the issue , said that the U23 team has no official activities or commitment until January 2016, so, they do not need to get all hyped up about it!

Of course, there is no mention by Kaffashian on accountability and responsibility of such an appointment or debacle, to be more precise.

Team Melli and Omid team training camps synced together.

Habib Kashani , the manager of Omid Team (Iran’s U-23) announced that they have arranged the training schedules of Omid team to coincide with Team Melli program for maximum benefits of both teams.

Kashani emphasized the fact that with such a program planning , it will be much easier for the clubs to release their players with the least interruption to the league.

“We have planned a minimum of 4 training camps and one tournament participation in our quest for qualifying to the Olympics through the AFC Asian U23 championship. “ Kashani said.

The Manger of Omid team also announced that the U23 team will be participating in the WAFF tournament on 30th September.  We could not verify that piece of information as Iran is not even a member of WAFF anymore!  In any case , the next WAFF football tournament is supposed to be held in Bahrain in 2016 so , Kashani’s information could not be authenticated.

Omid team will have to finish in the one of the top three places in the AFC Asian U23 championship to be held in Qatar in January 2016 to make it to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Omid team , coached by Mohammad Khakpour , finished 2nd in the qualifiers held in Tehran but qualified for the finals as one of the best 5 second placed teams.

Omid Team Manager apologizes for the loss.

Habib Kashani offered his apologies for the loss that Team Melli suffered against Saudi Arabia in Azadi stadium in the penultimate match of the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers. The 2-1 loss against Saudi Arabia resulted in the qualification of the opponents to the finals of the competition while Iran also qualified as one of the 5 best groups runners up.

Kashani , however , wasted little time in providing the usual bundle of excuses and justification for the loss. He said the team had only 3 months to prepare while Vingada’s team had 8 months yet lost to Vietnam and drew with Kyrgyzstan in the Asian Games in Incheon 2014.

“Half of the players were only recently added to the team and as such we needed more time to prepare. The defeat against Saudi Arabia was an unfortunate event which the coaching staff should offer a justification for.”

Iran U23 vs Saudi U23 Ali Karimi

Kashani added that in order to prepare for the final tournament in Qatar , the U23 team needs the cooperation of the league commission and their consent to the Omid Team training schedules and programs. “ As it is now, we only have the FIFA day where we can gather the players and practice. That is not adequate. In Doha , there will be no Nepal of Afghanistan , but facing strong teams like Korea , Qatar , Japan and  Emirates.” Added the Ex-Persepolis CEO.

Kashani also pointed to the other problems that many players will face in Omid team and in particular the Military service, which is a fundamental and chronic obstacles in front of the young Iranian players.

The Manager of Omid Team admitted that the FFIRI has provided everything possible for the team and for that he is quite grateful. He also acknowledged the Military Service commission’s support in allowing some players to compete in the qualifiers. “I appreciate all the people who helped Omid Team case in order to compete in the best possible way.” However, Kashani went to by saying “ I apologize for the loss against Saudi Arabia , all I can say at this moment is that I shoulder all the blame for that loss (…) . I have nothing else to offer except to say I am sorry!”

There was no mention of technical flaws or coaching deficiencies nor player’s performance issues in Kashani’s statement.


Queiroz “I will allow no one to interfere in my job”

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A visibly stressed Carlos Queiroz has emphatically and repeatedly announced to the media that he will allow no one to interfere in his job. The real target of this statement is Ali Kaffashian, while also sending a strong message to Kashani and Khakpour in Iran’s Omid team camp.

“A clause in my contract specifically stipulates that the selection of players is purely my responsibility and no one else. It is my job and responsibility to pick whoever player I want for Team Melli and anyone who thinks otherwise is disillusioned.” Queiroz said after his meeting with Kaffashian.

The tension has been rising between Queiroz on one hand and the duo Kashani and coach Khakpour of Omid Teamon the other. Both sides seem to lay claim on the two star players Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakht. The two Europe-based players have played for Iran youth level teams and also Team Melli recently. Omid team managers believe that Azmoun and Jahanbakht are key players in the team and can make a difference in Iran’s quest for qualifying to the Olympics Games Football competition after a 40 years absence. Queiroz has repeatedly said that he is not willing to release the players for Omid team while he has two important matches against Chile and Sweden in the next week FIFA days calendar. Those days coincide with Omid team playing the first stage of Olympic Games 2016 qualifiers in Tehran.

 “I had a meeting with Kaffashian today but I did not allow any discussion about the two players. My positions is quite clear and I am not willing to repeat myself” Queiroz said to the gathering press who have been anxious to know the fate of the two players. The press were alerted of the meeting which was expected to formally announce the inclusion of Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakht to Iran’s Omid Team ( Olympics U23)  which is scheduled to play its first competitive match on 23rd March against Nepal as part of the Rio Olympics 2016 Football competition qualifiers.


  [column size=”1/2″]  Kashani and Khakpour have been accusing the FFIRI top brass of lack of support for Omid Team. Ali Kaffashian , in attempt to ease the worries of Iran possible failure to qualify once again for the Olympics football tournament , promised the Omid Team Managers that their demand for the release the two young stars will be met in time for the qualifiers. Kaffashian further complicated the issue by publicly announcing the release of Azmoun and Jahanbaksh to Omid team.

The objective of today’s meeting at FFIRI offices was for Kaffashian to inform Queiroz of such decision and the release the two players to Omid team, however , the president of FFIRI did not account for the strong stance by Queiroz who reminded the President that it was him rather than Kaffashian who has the upper hand and the final decesion. Queiroz suggested that his boss reads the contract that his his signature on it. “If anyone is in doubt , then he should refer to my employment contract.” According to Queiroz, and as such putting Kaffashian in a precarious and rather embarrassing situation failing to deliver his promise to Omid team!

A defiant Queiroz in response to a question by a reporter on what are his thoughts about Kaffashian’s statement about the 4 months duration left on his contract with FFIRI , said that he will be honored if Ali Kaffashian fires him!

Carlos Queiroz rhetoric is a sign of one stressed man under pressure, real or imaginary. His defiance, maverick style and eccentric statements have been aplenty recently so are his threats to leave the job if the conditions are not up to his liking.

There is no statement more preposterous than Queiroz’s claim that “ NO one in Iran cares about Team Melli and Omid team , as much as I do!!”


Queiroz threatens to leave….again!

Ali Kaffashian said that Team Melli Head Coach , Carlos Queiroz has once again stated that if he continues to experience lack of resources at his disposal , he will resign his job as the head coach. The duo have met after Queiroz returned back to Iran from his extended holidays to discuss the future programs of Team Melli. Kaffashian said that Queiroz was concerned with the outcome of the Chile match and once again reiterated that if the proper resources are not available at his disposal , he will resign his job as Team Melli head coach.

Queiroz’s concern is about the possible cancellation of this high-profile and important friendly international against one of the best teams in the world with stars like Alexis Sanchez. The Portuguese coach is counting  a lot on a solid performance by Team Melli players against both Chile and Sweden. Countless numbers of matches and training camps have been cancelled by the federation due to lack of resource. Queiroz is approaching the point where he has drawn a line, where he believes that continuing to operate under such depravity and in constant struggle for handouts to do his basic work , is harming his own reputation and that of Iranian football.

Despite his strong support for Omid Team in its quest for qualifying to the Olympics and his strong backing of Kashani and Khakpour ,  Kaffashian admitted that Queiroz holds the upper hand in the release of Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh. The head of FFIRI said that he cannot force Team Melli coach to release the two players for Omid Team while the team is playing two important matches.

Kaffashian also supported Queiroz against Abbas Torabian and said that “Torabian’s job is somewhere else and he should not involve himself in issues that are not part of his job.”

Kaffashian also supported Queiroz against the criticism of Omid Team Manager Habib Kashani. “Queiroz is doing his job for the benefit of the team and Iran. It is nothing personal. He simply wants to prepare the team as best as he can like many other good teams in the area.” Kaffashian dismissed Kashani’s criticism against his own administration and Queiroz but refrained from rebuking Kashani for his strong words.

Omid team’s Abdollahzadeh is deported due to management blunder!

A blunder created by Habib Kashani and Mohammad Khakpour , forced Omid Team player Ahmad Abdollahzadeh to be deported from Kuwait after the player arrived in Kuwait without a visa!

Omid Team Coach Khakpour listed Abdollahzadeh in the squad list that was sent to the Kuwaiti authorities for issue in the visa, however , he requested the name of Abdollahzadeh to be dropped due to injury. Subsequently Ahmad Abdollahzadeh was not issued a visa. Somewhere along the line and a few days before the departure of the squad , Khakpour changed his mind and included Abdollahzadeh in the squad.

Without being prudent nor considering the consequences of a person travelling to a foreign country without a visa, Abdollahzadeh boarded the plane along with other members of the squad with the approval of Habib Kashani. Omid Team manager concurred with Khakpour’s decision and vowed to sort out Abdollahzadeh’s nonexistence of a visa on arrival at Kuwait airport!

As expected, Abdollahzadeh was denied entering into Kuwait without a visa and all the hype by Kashani , who thought that by haggling and dealing , he can manage to slip someone in a foreign country without a visa, has miserably failed. The team was left waiting for hours awaiting conclusion of the problem created by Kashani and Khakpour. Eventually , the team was allowed to leave to the hotel while Abdollahzadeh was stuck at Kuwait airport for hours awaiting a flight back to Iran as he was eventually deported.

This is yet another blunder that seems to typify the management of football in Iran. Kashani’s farce promise that he can confidently sort out a player who does not carry a valid visa is archetypical of managers who have unrealistic expectations and at times clueless about the laws and regulations.


For years, Omid team in particular has been the object of so many managerial errors but nothing worse than the last edition when a suspended player was used against Iraq in the qualifying rounds of the London Olympics in the Omid team win in Iraq. The result was over-turned into a loss and subsequently Omid team lost the home game as well and was eliminated. .

The names might have changed but the problems of Omid Team incompetent managers remains the same.

Omid Team is setting up a training camp in Kuwait where two games was originally scheduled to be played. However, one game was cancelled as the Omid team will be playing against its Kuwaiti counterpart on Thursday 12th March 2015.


“Khakpour is as good as Kranjcar” Kaffashian claims

The head of Iran’s football federation, Ali Kaffashian, much more known for his bizarre and outlandish quotes than his knowledge of football administration, admitted that Habib Kashani knows much better than him in football affairs and Kashani was right when he strongly expressed his concerns about the Omid Team prospects by submitting his resignation. “I have to say that Kashani is quite knowledgeable man in football, much more than I am. We have not accepted his resignation because we needed him although he had valid points about coaching selection” However, controversially Kaffashian said that the appointed Omid Team coach , Mohammad Khakpour , who has virtually no experience at top level football,  is as good as the veteran and championship winner Zlatko Kranjcar , who was Habib Kashani’s handpicked choice!

Kaffashian did not offer any rational explanation for his bizarre claim, nor could we explain the conflict between his two statements!


On the Omid Team, Kaffashian also admitted that the results and the performance of the Omid Team were poor and inexcusable. “Without having a proper program, we simply brought in a foreign coach, appointed him and told him to win us the Asian Games gold medal. The result was what you have all seen.” Thus for the umpteen times, Kaffashian unwittingly admits his administration poor management, planning and organizational skills.

Asked about the chances of Iran winning the Asian Cup and lifting the trophy for the first time since 1976, the head of FFIRI in his usual sarcastic tone said “ Our team is very good as you have all seen in the World Cup. What I promise you in Australia is that the players will pass the ball instead of sending the ball high in the sky!!”

In a way, Kaffashian officially joins Queiroz as the two people in Iran that have given Team Melli no hope of winning the Asian Cup. Although the promise of not playing “Ali Asghari“ football might appeal to some fans!

Ali Karimi distributing jersies

Kaffashian dismissed any notions of resignation from his post if Team Melli fails in the AFC Asian Cup.

“There is no reason for me to resign because of that. I will continue doing my job and prepare for the next stage. I have a 4 years cycle of presidency and plan to serve it. If the general assembly accepts me and finds me suitable, I will carry on for the next 4 years as well.”

The concept of accepting responsibility and resigning due to shortcomings and failures, has not reached Iranian football shores yet. Failures and defeats are quite acceptable to this federation. 2014 was the one of the worst years of failures at all levels for the proud and glorious Iranian football history, all under the administration of the all-smiling and not too serious Ali Kaffashian.