Tag: Hassan Habibi

Frank O’Farrell, former Team Melli coach, dies aged 94

The former Team Melli coach Frank O’Farrell has died at the age of 94. The Irishman also managed Leicester and Manchester United.

O’Farrell guided Leicester to the 1969 FA Cup final during his three-year spell in charge but the Irishman was best known as the man who succeeded Sir Matt Busby as United manager in 1971, although his Old Trafford reign would last only 18 months.

O’Farrell was a wing-half who played for his native Cork, West Ham, and Preston, winning nine Republic of Ireland caps between 1952 and 1959.

He began his managerial career at Weymouth in 1961 and spent three years at Torquay before landing the Leicester job in 1968. Leicester were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in the following year’s Cup final and relegated from the First Division three weeks later.

O’Farrell was quickly appointed as Busby’s successor. After a promising start which saw United top the table for the first time in three years, O’Farrell fell out with George Best and the team ended the season eighth. O’Farrell was sacked in December 1972 with United third from bottom.

After a short spell at Cardiff, O’Farrell was appointed as the Head coach of Team Melli in April 1974. He began his tenure with seven consecutive wins, leading them to the gold medal at the 1974 Asian Games and qualification for the Montreal Olympics.

O’Farrell was credited for undertaking the development of national coaches like his protege Heshmat Mohajerani, Bahman Salehnia, and Hasan Habibi. Mohajerani took over from O’farell and became the best Iranian coach in the history of Iran and was crowned with his qualification to the World Cup 1978.

In January 2006, O’Farrell was invited to Iran to attend a ceremony in honor of Persepolis’ former players, along with Alan Rogers

In testimony to O’Farrell, the Iranian superstar of the 70’s Hassan Rowshan commented Frank O’Farrell, was a real gentleman; A coach. In my opinion, I believe that Rykov built the infrastructure and foundation of Iranian football, and O’Farrell completed it. Interestingly, unlike Carlos Queiroz, O’Farrell believe in domestic trainers and had several Iranian assistants, such as Mohajerani, Habibi, and Salehnia, with him, and taught them the work. After O’Farrell left Iran, Mohajerani took the helm of the national team and achieved good results in the Asian Cup, the Olympics, and the World Cup, especially in Argentina.

O’Farrell later attended the 1978 World Cup in Argentina as a reporter and met with the Iranian national team players.

Reacting to the fact that some consider O’Farrell the architect and a kind of gateway to the world football arena, Rowshan said: “With the change of generation that took place, O’Farrell invited younger players to Team Melli who later formed the main body of the team. First of all, if you want to build a 100-story apartment building, you have to have a solid foundation. Rykov did that and tore down our old football foundation and built a new one. O’Farrell helped modernize our football. Rykov was a coach from Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia. Most of Europe’s great coaches at the time were from Eastern Europe. As I said, Rykov took the first step and then O’Farrell prepared the team in the style of Western European teams. Unlike Queiroz, who was looking to play against weaker teams, Rykov focused on the likes of Brazil, Hungary, and Manchester United. In my opinion, Rykov and O’Farrell, in addition to Mohajerani, were our best national coaches.

Down memory lane: Bitter defeats of World Cup 1994 qualifiers

Iran’s football history is full of glories and honors almost all of it was in the pre-revolution era. Achievements such as winning the Asian Cup three times in a row have never been repeated by any team thus far.

The beginning of those glories started way back in 1964 when Iran made it to the Olympics Games Tokyo. In 1966 a younger Team Melli won the silver medal of the Asian Games in Bangkok, while at home, Iran won its first-ever Asian title when Hassan Habibi lifted the trophy in Amjadieh after they defeated Israel 2-1.

That was the beginning of the golden age of Iranian football in 1968. In 1972 Iran successfully defended its Asian Cup title in Thailand while the same year, it qualified for the Olympic Games in Munich. Iran won the Asian Games football gold medal for the first time in 1974. Two years later 1976 was another glory year for Team Melli with double achievements, winning the Asian Cup for the third time and qualifying for the Montreal Olympics. Iran also made it to the quarter-finals for the first time.

Team Melli led by the legendary Iranian coach Heshmat Mohajerani qualified for the Argentina World Cup in 1978. It was the perfect icing on the cake for a decade of glorious years of football. Then came the revolution and political upheaval that disrupted the whole society and disturbed the exceptional progress of Iran’s football. The glory days were never to come back.

However, twelve years into the revolution with Team Melli completely devoid of any success, Ali Parvin lead a young side to win the Asian Games 1990 gold medal. It was hoped that this was the omen and the glory days are surely coming back.

While Team Melli struggled for success, there were still some good moments to be proud of the team and a few bad moments. There were some bitter defeats during the 1990s however, one particular period is considered by many as the worst performance of Team Melli ever.

This happened at the Asian Zone equalization for the FIFA World Cup 1994.

in October 1993, the qualification matches for FIFA World Cup USA 1994  were held in Doha, Qatar. Iran, while missing several key players such as Kermani Moghadam, Farshad Pious, and Mojtaba Moharrami due to suspension and Ahmad Abedzadeh due to injury headed to Doha. The squad was lead by Ali Parvin but internal politics and wide disputes prevented the team to properly prepare for those qualifications rounds. The team did not have and friendly preparation matches and the camp was disrupted by internal disagreements.

The result of an ill-prepared team marred by dispute and disharmony was exposed quite early in the competition when Team Melli was beaten comprehensively by South Korea 3-0.

The aftermath of this heavy defeat disrupted the squad even more and its effect also lead to calls for change in Iran’s coaching team, back home. is loss had very bad consequences for Iran’s football, According to some squad members, after this game in the locker room and later at a hotel where the team was accommodated there were many disputes between the players and the coaches and it escalated to the point that some players wanted to leave the camp.

The federation officials came to the rescue and with a mixture of promises and threats, they managed to cool the situation until these qualifiers are concluded.

In the second game, Iran defeated Japan 2-1, to ease the pressure on Parvin. The third game was crucial for Iran who needed a win to stay in the competition for a place in the World Cup. They were facing Iraq. Despite a hard-fought game the match ended with Iraq winning 2-1.

In the fourth match, another good win against North Korea 2-1 boosted the morale of the squad ahead of the final game against Saudi Arabia.

That match was a game-changer in Iran’s football history. Team Melli, clearly lacking a proper game plan and mostly depending on direct football, lost in a seven-goal thriller. It was clear that the team was commanded to go for it and score as many goals, leaving the defense exposed and in the process conceding 4 goals.  Iran lost 4-3 to Saudi Arabia, the team was eliminated from the World Cup and failed to achieve what the coaching staff promised while it was ranked fifth among 6 countries.

Team Pts Pld W D L GF GA GD
 Saudi Arabia 7 5 2 3 0 8 6 2
 South Korea 6 5 2 2 1 9 4 5
 Japan 6 5 2 2 1 7 4 3
 Iraq 5 5 1 3 1 9 9 0
 Iran 4 5 2 0 3 8 11 -3
 North Korea 2 5 1 0 4 5 12 -7

Saudi Arabia took first place with its 4-3 victory over Iran. Japan and South Korea were even on points, but South Korea held the goal difference advantage after the 3-goal victory over North Korea and won the tiebreaker.

After the return of Team Melli to Tehran, Parvin was the target of the wrath of the fans. It all started from Mehrabad airport where mobs shouted profanity and accusation of treason and it continued all the way to his home, despite police protection. The protests against him did not stop either as they continued wherever he went.

Parvin had warned many times in the months before the qualifiers in Qatar that the national team had problems (problems with the preparation game, players, finances, etc.). However, those words were of very little use as after a few days, the whole of Team Melli coaching staff including Head Coach Ali Parvin, Nasser Ebrahimi, Amir haj-Rezaei Kumasi, and Mohammad Maeli-Kohan, were fired.

That was not the end of that either. As the consequences of the defeat in Qatar continued until Safizadeh, the president of the Football Federation, and Hassan Ghafouri Fard, the head of the Physical Education Organization, were also relieved from their duties as they were singled out as accountable for these bad results.