Tag: Hossein Faraki

Hossein Faraki seems to be the lead candidate for Team Melli job.

With the withdrawal of Amir Ghalenoei and Mehdi Tarter, the exclusion of Yahya Golmohammadi from the initial list, and the outright rejection of the offer to coach Team Melli by Ali Daei, Hossein Faraki seems to be the leading candidate for the job.

Notwithstanding the two other candidates (Majidi & Nekounam) both of whom have discipline and stability issues in addition to lack of proper international experience required for the job, Faraki seems to tick all the boxes of FFIRI and most importantly to the authorities, being politically acceptable and loyal.

 In an interview with ISNA, Hossein Faraki acknowledged that his name was amongst several for the post of Team Melli head coach and said ” I was offered the chance for the job in a call made by FFIRI leadership. They sent me an invitation and asked me for a roadmap and plan for participating in the AFC Asian Cup 2023. Of course, there are other options and they specified a deadline for me to respond.”

He continued: “Anyway, it is the national team and it is where I played for many years and had coaching experience too. In the last one or two years, I have had proposals from several clubs, which I have not yet decided on. One of the reasons was the Corona issue, and after that, I realized that the place I want to go to, must have the right conditions and atmosphere to conduct my job. Maybe some clubs have problems and lack facilities, and I also wanted to be in a place where the conditions are available so that I can have an impact. I would like to do something for the national team if I can,”

The former coach of the national team added: “If I feel that something can be done, I will think about it. Many people would love to see me take the post and would love for this to happen to me and for me to get what I deserve. There are different opinions in this regard. Some agree and some disagree, but everyone is entitled to his opinions are it should be respected “

” So far I have not sent my program but I am in the process and will soon submit it to the federation. It will be sent by tomorrow and whatever the outcome will be, it will happen.”

“I don’t like to talk about speculation,” Farraki said about the selection of an Iranian or foreign coach for Team Melli. “Anyway, the decision maker is the Football Federation. Many of our coaches have potential and the desire of every coach is to lead the national team. We also need to motivate the Iranian coach. Foreign coaches have their own values, but under the current circumstances, it is better to give the Iranians the opportunity.

Faraki was born in Tehran on 22nd March 1957 and started his playing career with PAS Tehran from 1976 to 1992), He played for Team Melli  (22 caps/11 goals for Iran), and his coaching career included Esteghlal Tehran, Sepahan Isfahan, Persepolis Tehran

Hossein Faraki played for Team Melli in the first Iranian qualification for the World Cup in 1978. He also won third place in the AFC Asian Cup 1980 in Kuwait with the national team. Faraki served as assistant coach to Branko Ivankovic for three years. Faraki also has the experience of being the head coach of Iran’s Omid national team in 2004. He led Foolad Khuzestan to the League Title in 2012-2013. He also led the Sepahan Isfahan team to the title in 2013-2014, so within 2 years, he has led two different clubs to the championship titles in the Iran Premier Football League.

Amir Ghalenoei out of the race for Team Melli head coach job.

One of the main internal options for the leadership of Team Melli has withdrawn from the race.

According to news agency reports, Amir Ghalenoei, Hossein Faraki, Mehdi Tartar, Farhad Majidi, and Javad Nekounam were named as the final five internal options of the Football Federation to lead the national team. Among the candidates, only Amir Ghalenoei has prior experience in leading Team Melli. The former Esteghlal coach and current Gol Gohar Sirjan head coach was at the top of the list, however, Ghalenoei immediately announced his withdrawal.

 On his personal page, Ghalenoei announced his decision in an Instagram post story. The reasons behind his decision were not obvious except for mentioning that the timing was not right for him to accept such a move. Ghalenoei also had a veiled dig against the federation for omitting the names of the leading candidates for the Team Melli job, particularly Yahya Golmohammadi.

On the other hand, it is also reported that Mehdi Tartar has also withdrawn from the race which leaves Hossein Faraki, Mehdi Tartar, Farhad Majidi, and Javad Nekounam as the three choices. The latter has just abandoned his job as head coach of Foolad Khuzestan while still involved in the race for AFC Asian Champions League title. His petulant and highly unethical attitude makes Nekounam unworthy of coaching the National Team of Iran. His poor record in coaching and the controversies that seem to surround him in every match create unhealthy surroundings in Team Melli.

Farhad Majidi is no better than Nekounam either.

From that list, Hossein Faraki seems to be the only viable coach with experience and the right conduct for the job.

Meanwhile, the head of the football federation emphasized that we are in no rush to choose the head coach of the national team and said: “We are currently busy with holding league games and there is no possibility of forming a national team. We are thinking about both Iranian and foreign options and we have to choose the option of the head coach of the national team with special prudence and sensitivity (….) ”

A perennial failure figure in selecting a proper coach for Team Melli, Mehdi Taj is known for his authoritarian decision-making. He has always been prompted and guided by the government in form of the Minister of Sports. Therefore the appointment of the future Team Melli coach will be highly dependent on that person’s loyalty to the regime values, Islamic revolutions principles, and being an obedient servant, much more than his competency, experience, and skills in coaching.

The options for domestic coaches are quite narrow, while a foreign coach seems to be a remote possibility due to figures that the FFIRI cannot possibly afford to pay in addition to the crumbling of the Iranian currency against the dollar.


The Saga of Team Melli Head Coach.

The saga of Team Melli head coach is over by the eventual appointment of an outsider for the hot seat. The Croatian, Dragan Skocic with a thin CV way below the last coach who floundered badly, namely Marc Wilmots, was deemed to be the right man for taking Iran to the third consecutive FIFA World Cup appearance.

The whole saga was filled with politics, lobbying, drama, deceits, theatrics, and unfulfilled promises. While the FFIRI was unwilling to repeat the experience of Marc Wilmots in the sense that they had difficulty paying him and his crew on time and the fact that FFIRI is facing financial calamity with expenditures far exceeding revenues. With that in mind, FFIRI opted to go for the cheaper and easier option of appointing a local coach. That said, a foreign coach was never discounted.

The Candidates

From the corridors of FFIRI, there were 5 names on the list of Team Melli coaching candidates. Ali Daei, Amir Ghalenoei, Yahya Golmohammadi, Hossein Faraki and Alireza Mansourian. Two other candidates, Majid Jalali and Vahid Hashemian were also considered but soon relegated to lower ranks.

As always, Ali Daei was the top of the list. He was out of work and available immediately. However, Daei comes with a lot of heavy baggage. He is a strong character and outspoken. He does not tolerate incompetence and poor management and will speak his mind out loud no matter who is in charge or how strong he is. Simply, no one can fool around with Daei and for an entity such as FFIRI and the way it is being run, this is precarious. The hierarchy demands strict allegiance, loyalty, and conformity without too many questions. Simply, this administration could not handle Daei.

 Amir Ghalenoei was the obvious choice and the one with most technical points. His achievement in coaching in Iran is immaculate. The man is a winner, not by opinion or belief but by facts and figures. It made the best sense for him to lead Team Melli.  Nevertheless, Ghalenoei is massively occupied with a battle to win his 6th championship title and his club, with a strong lobby and influence in Tehran, was vehemently refusing to release him at this stage. Not only Ghalenoei is popular with the players and the fans and has a strong challenge for the league title, but he is also so quite determined to make a great run in the AFC League Champions which has so far eluded him.

Yahya Golmohammadi’s fate was known early as Persepolis managed to grab him early before the battle intensified.

The other two, Faraki and Mansourian were always considered outsiders despite both having previous coaching experience, while Hashemian was considered far too inexperienced and partially blamed for the defeats of Team Melli against Bahrain and Iraq. Jalali never had much clout or support in Seoul street.

As far as the Foreign candidate goes, the one and the only Branko Ivankovic was on the top. The ex-Team Melli coach was even considered for the job while Carlos Queiroz was in charge. Ivankovic is quite popular in Iran and accepted by both the fans and the authorities as a decent person and technically gifted leader. He would be the ideal candidate to lead Team Melli. However, the maltreatment of Persepolis management and their false promises to sort out their contractual obligation was the biggest factor for Ivankovic to turn down the offer despite him giving the Iranians the chance to display goodwill by sorting the pack pay of his Persepolis days.

Failure of Persepolis to pay his unpaid dues was the final straw, leaving the Croat no choice but to turn down the lucrative Tea Melli job.

The Italian Di Biasi popped out of nowhere in the news for a few days and despite the Iranian side denying any negotiation, the ex -Albania National team coach did not agree terms with the Iranian side.

Infantino presenting Soltanifar a FIFA pendant

The Battle between FFIRI and Ministry of Sports

While FFIRI, particularly its President was going through the process of Team Melli coach selection with those 5 local candidates in mind, the Ministry had its own plan. A Ministry official not so long ago stated that the future coach will be a foreigner while not totally dismissing a local coach appointment. This non-official point of view was not in itself of any significance, but its importance would be meaningful when the appointment was finalized.

A foreign coach was indeed appointed which signified who is taking the decision on Iranian football affairs. Major decisions relating to all activities of football are outside the control of the FFIRI, its President, the secretary-general, the Technical Committee or the Disciplinary committees. The FFIRI personnel are all pawns and do the routine trivial works were their decisions and outcomes have no effect on politics or major effect on public opinion.

The De Facto policymaker of Iran’s sports including football is Minister of Youth and Sports, Masoud Soltanifar, who has the final say in what is deemed important and issues vital rulings. If anyone, including the elected President of Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran FFIRI, opposes policies or rulings, he can be dealt with one way or another.

Dragan Skocic was an outsider and the easiest choice. The Croat would have seen this as a big career challenge and very much significant improvement in his CV while he was fed up with his employer Sanat Naft and ready to jump ship.

The grand Decision Maker.

It is no secret that the government has been and continues to control football affairs. They own the clubs, appoint the CEO, directors, provide financial support and make decisions. Although the football federation operates and conforms to the international law of football and the governing body FIFA, in Iran, such rules are easily bypassed by a clever set of unwritten rulings.

What is seemed to look like the election of President and board members of the Federation is nothing like what it seems. There are merely appointments dressed in a form of election. The candidates and nominees are all government-affiliated, ex-employees but more significantly have played a role in the Sepah, Basij or IRGC. Football knowledge, competence, ability, and managerial skills are hardly a priority for the regime.

It is no clear what motives the Minister of Sport had on preferring a foreign coach, however, the speculation is that it is perhaps based on general public sentiment who prefer a foreign coach as a result of a good run for Team Melli under Queiroz.

Why a foreign coach?

The problems Iranian football had with foreign coaches are well documented and known to all stakeholders. In summary, it is about 3 factors, the first and the most important is the inability of the clubs to transfer money through the international banking system, second is the lack of professional discipline by the clubs resulting in conflicts and contractual disagreements, and last is the communication difficulties including cultural awareness of the foreigners that put them in a disadvantage compared to a local.

None of those three factors can go away anytime soon in Iran so the reason(s) behind insisting on a foreign coach must be more on the political side rather than technical. Although the Ministry of Sports had its own motive to decide on a foreigner leading Team Melli, most probably based on non-football related factors, in hindsight this could be the right decision.

No one can deny the technical ability of Daei and Ghalenoei the two front-runners for the job. However, Iranian coaches have this social stigma attached to them that is very difficult to absorb at the international level. Always diverting blame, always pointing fingers at others after defeats and failures, always the antagonists and confrontational and finally, dogmatic and inflexible unwilling to change their ways and plans despite failures.

For the authority, they are also risky because they can easily raise public anti-establishment emotions after defeats by Team Melli. Eventually, they all blame the system, something that the regime fears the most and has lead to several uprising and riots.

The Losers and the Winners.


FFIRI : A Bystander executing the orders of the paymaster

Ali Daei: Unfairly and deviously ousted by a regime who is fearful of his influence on masses

Hossein Faraki: His recent lack of success hurt his reputation and stands quite badly

Alireza Mansourian: A coach who is burnt early by consecutive lack of success and not appreciating his limitation.


Dragan Skocic: A dream post for him. Never considered a top coach and lack of success did not indicate that he is anywhere near taking such a mammoth task. He can really endear himself to all and do his CV a lot of good if he manages to take Iran to the World Cup 2020

Sanat Naft: An immediate compensation the value of US$ 170,000 for releasing Dragan Skocic from his contract. Money which is much needed to pay expenses and perhaps buy one or two players to strengthen the squad.

Sepahan Esfahan: Not willing to part with their coach who is challenging for the league title yet they had enough clout to say NO to the Minister and keep their much-sought-after coach.

Amir Ghalenoei: Has been there and done that. Ghalenoei who coached Team Melli in 2007 and experienced the hardship of coaching at that level with so many high expectations, was never too enthusiastic about taking the job again. Despite his desire to be seen as patriotic, whenever he was asked by the media about the job, he denied any offers and did not indicate that he was willing to leave his club Sepahan which was on a good run under his leadership. He is also looking to change his luck this season in AFC Champions League as a strong challenge for him.

Farhad Majidi appointed as head coach of Omid Team

After a long and desperate search for a replacement for Zlatko Kranjcar, the FFIRI has finally selected Farhad Majidi as the head coach

The Iranian Football Federation was hoping to appoint a competent replacement to lead the Omid Team after ending the contract of the Croatian head coach Zlatko Krancjar. In the past few months, various options have been considered to coach the U23 team, from Amir Ghalanoei, Alireza Mansourian , Mehdi MahdaviKia, Javad Nekounam to  Hossein Faraki. But all of these coaches refused to accept the offer.

The federation was on the brink of singing Yahya GolMohammadi, but his club did not allow him to leave, as he was still under contract with Padidah. Mehdi Taj and Hamid Estili, the technical manager of Omid, eventually negotiated with Farhad Majidi, who was out of work, to be the new head coach. Estili confirmed the selection of Majidi in a statement to the media. The team must start preparation for the final rounds of AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 which is also the qualifying round of the Olympics Games Men football competition as well as being the U23 Asian Championship. The final rounds will be played in a tournament style in Bangkok, Ciang Mai, Pathum Thani and Songkhala.

Farhad Majidi is the least experienced of all the other candidates who turned the job down. He has only a few games under his arm as a head coach of Esteghlal after he was given the temporary post at the club following the departure of the German coach Schaefer.

Thus the football federation continues its tendency to appoint raw and unproven coaches for the Omid U23 team and hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Iran U23 qualified as one of the second best teams after hosting the qualifiers in Tehran and finishing second to Iraq in the group.

The tournament will start in January 2020 with 4 groups consisting of 4 teams. The first two of each group qualify for the quarter finals. Asia has 3 spots in the Olympic Games.  

The Draw

The 16 teams are drawn into four groups of four teams. The teams are seeded according to their performance in the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship final tournament and qualification, with the hosts Thailand automatically seeded and assigned to Position A1 in the draw.

Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
1.    Thailand(hosts)

2.    Uzbekistan

3.    Vietnam

4.    Qatar

5.    South Korea

6.    Iraq

7.    Japan

8.    North Korea

9.    China PR

10. Australia

11. Jordan

12. Saudi Arabia

13. Syria

14. Iran

15. United Arab Emirates

16. Bahrain

Esteghlal club threaens to boycott Queiroz!

After the unprovoked attack by Carlos Queiroz on Rahmati following Esteghlal’s goalkeeper excellent form in the derby, the club issued a strong statement questioning Queiroz motives, his behavior and the continuous absence of punitive measure against him following a series of misdemeanors since he took over Team Melli.

With 10 days to go to the match against Turkmenistan in the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers, the Portuguese coach is already embroiled in several conflicts starting with the ethics committee who have issued statements questioning him about illegal payments from UHLSports, the Team Melli Kit providers and another public war with the Secretary General  of FFIRI, Alieza Asadi.

True to character, Queiroz has opened another front now, this time against Esteghlal club and Rahmati. Esteghlal, along with Persepolis are the two most popular clubs in the country and their response was rapid and very strong.

Extracts from the long statement follows:

During week, Iran’s national football team coach conducted interviews and issued several statements. His interviews and statements contents were full of cruel words both spoken and written. In those statements, Insult, humiliation, and flagrant display of antagonism, perhaps more than ever exposed Queiroz real character exhibiting his retaliatory behavior.

Carlos Queiroz has long been belittling various personalities, including the General Secretary of the Iranian Football Federation, players and sports officials, insulting and ridiculing them in the process. Unfortunately he has not been held accountable for such. In reference to the Captain of Esteghlal team, he has issued statements using ridiculous words in the hours of night and with a bizarre content that were astonishing and leads to questioning of Queiroz’s mental status and motives while creating resentment between millions of Esteghlal fans.

[pullquote align=”right”]”he has no right to publicly insult or question the character of the player.” [/pullquote]

Team Melli coach can assess the capabilities of players and consider their technical abilities to decide if he will invite a player or ignore him for selection to the squad, however he has no right to publicly insult or question the character of the player.  Are these tirades, statements and direct insults that he deploys a part of his character and culture? Perhaps this time Queiroz, and pursuant to the excellent form of Mehdi Rahmati ran out of technical excuses for not inviting him and found himself short of verse in the poem, even embarrassed, so he engaged in character assassination. Unfortunately, this behavior of his, once again typifies his extreme nature and as such his demeanor has to be severely questioned.


By using such method, Queiroz is putting his motives under question. His behavior and manners are totally rejected. In other words, social consciousness and human morality dictates that a foreign guest must have respect for Iran and Persian culture. Queiroz presence in major European teams has not enhanced his reputation as such, however it managed to create a great illusion of personality in his own mind surrounding himself with such false impression that he is beyond accountability.

With all due respect we have for the position of national team coach, Queiroz has overstepped the line, and took a bite more than he can chew and bigger than his mouth.

Now it is time to address how this person manipulative behavior like raising the flag of our country in frenzy, obscene gesture towards an opponent coach , insulting behavior against a referee and many other misdemeanors, that we all conveniently brushed aside  in the name of patriotism and protecting Team Melli.

[quote class=”If we did not want him, we would not have signed with him after the World Cup”] We will stop providing players to be under the control of this type of character![/quote]

It is expected from both the Football Federation and the national team coach Carlos Queiroz to withdraw that absurd statement against Rahmati or deny it if it has not occurred. It is expected that both sides to apologize to the club, the millions of supporters of Mehdi Rahmati and the player himself.

If you continue this rhetoric and the use of inappropriate language by a national team coach, Esteghlal club will hold both sides legally and morally accountable, and shall not only seek legal action with these perceived insults, but will stop providing players to be under the control of this type of character!

We believe there are more to this than technical issues or matters related to selection of players, we suspect that the coach wants a way out and by creating such turmoil and turbulent atmosphere, it seems the ideal way of exiting.

When Queiroz says that Rahmati does not possess the character, he has insulted more than the players himself but tens of National coaches and other team Melli coaches like Daei, Ivankovic , Ghotbi, Faraki and Peyrovani whom all picked and selected Rahmati for Team Melli.

In Iran , the a person is judged on his character , behavior , respect for others , esteem and not by his monetary value, of course in a country like Mozambique it could be different.

Persian Gulf League in action again.

The 15th season of Iran’s premiere league (Persian Gulf Professional League) will start in earnest from tomorrow Thursday 30th July 2015.

16 teams will be battling it out for the ultimate prize of lifting the Championship title and challenging the holder Sepahan Esfahan, the team with the most honors in the history of the league. The Esfahani team has been consistently challenging for the title since the start of the new league system, and has managed to win a record breaking 5 titles with 1 runner up and one third place positions. As such Foolad Mobarekeh Sepahan is the most decorated team of the league.

Sepahan won the league in style

The Defending Champions

No doubt that Sepahan will continue on the same trail this season with nearly same squad that won the title in the previous season under the leadership of Coach Hossein Faraki. The ex-Team Melli striker is building a deservedly good reputation for himself in Iran’s football by winning his second title in a row with two different clubs. The soft spoken coach has kept faith in the title winning squad and refrained from indulging in any business in the transfer market. No doubt that a fit again Navidkia will assist Sepahan further in this edition. The frail and injury prone Captain of the team was absent for many matches last season.


Branko Ivankovic ^ Ali Daei 2006
Branko Ivankovic Persepolis Coach


Persepolis, the most popular team in Iran along with Esteghlal, have been having torrid few seasons with changes in personnel occurring on regular basis. This club has so disappointed it millions of fans that the usual crowd of red army that used to paint Azadi in red has virtually disappeared. The Club numerous problems off the field, was further complicated the issue by some on the field transgressions of some players acting unruly and suffering from ill- disciplined. Poor appointments in coaching and administrative staff has furthered deteriorated the team to the extent that it was fighting for survival near the end of the last league season. Branko Ivankovic was recruited to replace the struggling Hamid Derakhshan. The Croat has maintained the league status of Persepolis and avoided the relegation, however, this season, there is little indication that the team will be decidedly better than last season.

Esteghlal goals rush unlikely

The Blues of Esteghlal

Esteghlal, forever a title contender, had a disappointing last season under Amir Ghalenoei who was eventually replaced by Parviz Mazloomi. The club has a tendency to stick to its own and picks coaches from the plethora of ex and retired players rather than seek professional and experienced coaches elsewhere. Mazloomi last stint as Esteghlal coach ended bitterly when bad results and losses against much weaker teams started a semi revolt in the stands by the blues fan who demanded his removal. The squad for this season has not seen major changes however the loss of two Team Melli players in Sadeghi and Beigzadeh to Saba and lack of real fire power in the offensive line could limit the chance of Esteghlal in challenging for the title.

Like Persepolis, Esteghlal is another organization in real administrative, financial and ,management difficulties.

[box title=”

Leauge Stats

” style=”soft” box_color=”#c8c8ba” title_color=”#0d0c0c” radius=”5″]You can follow the Persian Gulf Pro League results and tables in www. teammelli.com all the time. Simply check the “Supplements” menu and select Persian Gulf League , or go to https://www.teammelli.com/the-persian-gulf-league[/box]

The League Committee

Despite gradual improvements in the organization of the league each new season, football in Iran is still behind the overall standard of rival Asian countries and the neighboring Persian Gulf states. Most of the facilities and the stadiums lack the international standards. Mercifully, AFC pressure has forced the Iranian authorities into action. The Asian ruling body plays a major role in forcing the Iranians to improve standards and facilities like the recent ruling by the AFC and insistence to install seats in the stadiums rather than the fans endure the hardship od sitting on scorching cement slabs.

One of the weaknesses of last season was the periodical stoppage of the season for Team Melli training camps which resulted in unanimous outcry by the coaches and teams. Those league stoppages were demanded by Carlos Queiroz as conditional for Team Melli survival in the World Cup. With no World Cup in 2016 , it is hoped that the season will continue without much interruption that hurts team’ momentum.

The blues



Last season suffered from lack of interest by the fans. Factors that has affected the poor attendances varied amongst the major ones were; shortages of quality games, dearth of exciting players or games to attract the crowds, failure of the two most popular teams to shine which dampened the enthusiasm of their huge number of followers, match organizers lack of respect and appreciation of fans comfort and finally the broadcast of major European leagues matches on TV. Sepahan traditional never matched the fans base of the big two and their remote stadium has played a major role in the paltry attendance figures. The only team that made a difference and kept the league stands alive was Tractorsazi with its phenomenal and passionate crowds. No team has away travelling support either as the team from Tabriz. This season, despite the disappointing finish of last, should see the Azerbaijani fans flocking back once again to the Yadegar Imam stadium. The rest of the stadiums in Iran are a matter of hit and miss.

Celebration Tractorsazi style

Broadcast rights.

 Amongst the peculiarities of football in Iran is the TV and non-payment of broadcast fees.

In Iran, there is one government owned and run organization that has unjustifiably and unfairly taken full advantage of football enjoying a free ride for decades without paying anything in return. IRIB, the TV and Radio monopoly, has flatly refused to entertain any demands for payment to the league clubs or the FFIRI for broadcasting league or Team Melli matches a system that is globally implemented. IRIB, argues that it is providing a free service for fans and clubs alike and not charging the viewers, so it does not find any justification for paying while it is not charging subscription fees. In the in the contrary, IRIB thinks that it has to be paid because it is doing a favor for the clubs!.

IRIB conveniently, opportunistically and deviously ignored the millions of dollars that it has received from TV advertisers when broadcasting football matches.

This stand of arrogance and egotism by IRIB resulted in tension in the league and spilled out in the parliament and the media with various heated debates. IRIB is an organization which is strongly supported and protected by the by the highest of the hierarchy in the regime. It has dodged all attempts by all sides including the Iranian parliament to pay for broadcasting rights that is believed to have earned it coffers millions of dollars in return. Even an attempt to a TV black out and ban of cameras in stadiums, which only lasted for one round, did not dislodge the IRIB from its position. The IRIB simply brushed such a move as a minor inconvenience!

Good news of this season, however, is that IRIB finally agreed to pay for the broadcast of matches. The figures are closely kept secret and many insiders believe that it is nowhere near the true value of the league. In any case, it is a step forward and this might be a beginning of a new era for many clubs with huge financial difficulties (read the majority of the clubs) to get some return from TV broadcast rights.

Team Melli Players

10 out of the 32 players that donned Iran’s Team Melli jersey have changed club so far. There are expected to be a few more changes as several players have not agreed terms with their present clubs while many other countries have not started the season yet..


The full list of Team Melli player is as follows:


# Players Name Previous Team Current Team
1 AMIRI, Vahid Naft Tehran Naft Tehran
2 ANSARIFARD, Karim Osasuna Rah Ahan
3 AZMOUN, Sardar FC Rostov FC Rostov
4 BEIGZADEH, Hashim Esteghlal Saba Qom
5 BIRANVAND, Alireza Naft Tehran Naft Tehran
6 DEJAGAH, Ashkan Al Arabi Al Arabi
7 EBRAHIMI, Omid Esteghlal Esteghlal
8 EZZATOLLAHI, Saeid Athletico Madrid FC Rostov
9 FOROUZAN, Mohsen Esteghlal Esteghlal
10 GHAFOORI, Vourya Sepahan Esfahan Sepahan Esfahan
11 GHOOCHANNEJAD, Reza Al Wakra Al Wakra
12 HAGHIGHI, Alireza FC Penafiel  FC Penafiel 
13 HAJSAFY, Ehsan Sepahan Esfahan Sepahan Esfahan
14 HASSANZADEH, Masoud Zob Ahan Zob Ahan
15 HEYDARI, Khosrow Esteghlal Esteghlal
16 HOSSEINI, Jalal Al Ahli Naft Tehran
18 KANANI, Mohammad Hossein Malavan Malavan
19 KHANZADEH, Mohammadreza Persepolis Foolad Kuzestan
20 MOHAMMADI, Milad Rah Ahan Rah Ahan
21 MONTAZERI, Pejman Umm Salal Al Ahli
22 NEKOUNAM, Javad Osasuna Saipa
23 POOLADI, Mehrdad Al Shahaniya Al Shahaniya
24 POURALIGANJI, Morteza Tianjin Teda Tianjin Teda
25 RAFIEI, Sourosh Foolad Khuzestan Foolad Khuzestan
26 REZAEIAN, Ramin Rah Ahan Persepolis
27 SADEGHI, AmirHossein Esteghlal Saba Qom
28 SHARIFI, Mehdi Sepahan Esfahan Sepahan Esfahan
29 SHOJAEI, Masoud Al Shahaniya Al Shahaniya
30 TAREMI, Mehdi Persepolis Persepolis
31 TEYMOURIAN, Andranik Tractorsazi Tabriz Umm Salal
32 TORABI, Mehdi Saipa Saipa

 Khalatbary sends a sublime message to Queiroz

 MohammadReza Khalatbary inspired Sepahan , defeated Gostarish  Foolad Tabriz 4-1 to regain the leadership of the Persian Gulf League. Khalatbary helped himself to a hat trick beginning from the first few seconds of the match with less than a minute played when he scored from an acute angle after easily dribbling past two defenders to hammer the ball in the roof of the net.

Khalatbary scored his second with a lovely taken free kick immaculately sent to the furthest end from the hapless Gostarish goalkeeper.

In the second half, a bit of the old trickery and juggling by Khalatbary , lead to a foul on him in the penalty area. There was no doubt who was going to take the spot kick. Hadi Aghili, Sepahan’s Captain is the regular penalty taker, but a bit of a pleading by Khalatbary and a bit of common sense , gave the left footed winger his chance to complete his hat trick . Khalatbary, obliged and  chipped the ball while wrong footing Gostarish keeper.

It was a 5 star performance from Khalatbary who played a major role in Sepahan offensive onslaught on the team from Tabriz. Such inspiring performance augured well for Sepahan and Hossein Faraki in their quest to win the title once again. With Khalatbary at his best, it is difficult to see any defender catching up with him. The only black mark on this performance today was his temperament. The player has yet to learn from years of playing professional football and can be easily intimidated by the opposing team if they elect to play dirty against him.

Khalatbary , who was controversially omitted from Team Melli final list to the FIFA World Cup 2014 and never picked up after it again , played with grit and determination as he was on a mission. It was nothing but marvelous. He has also sent a clear message to Team Melli and Queiroz. With such a sterling performance, Khalatbary does not need to go to the media , shed tears, claims injustice ,  claim he is been robbed of his rightful place in Team Melli. The Sepahan winger did it in style and by letting his goals and performance do the talking. As luck has it, good old Carlos Queiroz was not in the Fooladshahr Stadium to witness the magic of Khalatbary.

In the post match press conference, Khalatbary was asked about the allegation on Kranjcar and his alcohol consumption. , he responded by saying ” I have the highest respect for this man. As a person and as a professional. I categorically reject any such accusations against him.  I have no idea who initiated such rumors, but I can assure you that it was none of Sepahan players or staff because we simply did not notice these alleged violation and consumption of alcohol. It is a shame when people resort to such dirty tricks against others, I feel sorry for those who tarnish the image of a genuine man”

Mohammdreza Khalatbary’s performance against Gostraish , was a breath of fresh for the disappointing Iranian football which has little to cheer about nowadays.

A special mention has to go to Ehsan Hajsafy. His performance and adaptability, surge of speed, shooting and crossing was a mark of a great player in the making. No doubt , Hajsfay is on the radar of many top teams in Europe.


Morteza Pouraligangi , the inspired young midfielder.

Naft Tehran midfielder in confident enough to believe that his team can win the Hazfi Cup, in addition to achieving a respectable high ranking in the Persian Gulf League. He also said that he aims to gain the full confidence of Team Melli coach in order to make the squad to the Asian cup. His long term ambition is to play in Europe.

Morteza Pouraligangi , the  22 years old footballer from Babol , in an interview with Mehr News Agency, after his team Naft Tehran defeated Padideh to qualify for the final of Hazfi Cup expressed his satisfaction with his team performance. “We were the better team throughout the match and if I and my other teammates dealt better with the final ball, the margin of victory would have been much better. I think we wasted at least 5 good goal scoring opportunities against Padideh.”


“We could have easily won that match if we managed to score an early goal to draw the Padideh out of their defensive cocoon. They were just thinking of not conceding as their game plan was based upon solid defense while their attack was based on Route 1 (direct route) to the opposition goal “.

Pouraligangi , who was named in the last Team Melli squad and was an unused substitute in the match against South Korea, attributed his team sterling performance to long term vision of the club management and quality coaching.

“After Naft Tehran won promotion to the Persian Gulf League, the club recruited the best coach they can afford and one who had an excellent track in producing and developing talented young players. He was Hossein Faraki , who gave me my first chance to play in the league while I was only 18 years old. After Faraki left, Golmohammadi maintained the same policy as his predecessor of allowing talented players to be given playing time regardless to their name or family backgrounds. Now, Alireza Mansourian who is an expert in youth level football is taking over and doing a remarkable job with Naft which is one of the youngest teams in the league.”

“Most of the young players in our team have similar aspirations. To start with, we all want to gain success and win trophies with Naft Tehran. This is vital for our career success and future. Then we want to build upon that domestic success to reach our goal of playing in the European leagues.”

Morteza Pouraligangi joined Naft Tehran in 2010. The midfielder started his football career for his local club, Peykan Babol , before moving to Pas Tehran , and then Ehsan Shahr Rey before settling in Naft Tehran in 2010 and making his professional debut.

In 2009 , Morteza Pouraligangi was selected for Iran’s U 16 team where he played 4 matches while in 2010 he was a member of Iran’s U 18 playing 2 matches, then Iran U23 where he won 10 caps.

“My aspiration is to be a member of Team Melli. I am hoping that my performance in the league with Naft is good enough to get the approval of Carlos Queiroz.”

“Ultimately , my selection for Team Melli is based upon my own performance in my team. Carlos Queiroz has already expressed his satisfaction with my work in the U 23 team. My aim is to maintain his confidence and reinforce it further on and off the field. Queiroz is an experienced football coach who coached world class players such as Zidane, Beckham , Figo , Christian Ronaldo and others. He knows the strength and weakness of his players and always works to enhance their abilities. I hope that in the next training camp I work even better to enhance my chance for the AFC Asian Cup in Australia.”

Gholmreza Rezaei : the case of overlooked excellence  .

 The little man from Shiraz ( 1.69 m) who is built like a powerful wrestler,  whose speed and acceleration is reminiscent of puma and his goal scoring skill is worthy of some repeated viewing on the TV, is guiding his team to the top of the league.

Gholamreza Rezaei, who had a mixed success in his 3 years stint with Persepolis including a torrid period of lingering injuries and long layoffs affecting his form and morale, eventually, left for Foolad Khuzestan in 2013 the club he originally moved away from to join Persepolis.

 With full fitness regained , the fast Rezaei found his form down southg and started scoring for Foolad, but his true & real value was in the way his coach, Hossein Faraki , used him in destroying the opposition defenses with sharp runs into the area and providing quality balls for his teammate to score.

 Faraki was instrumental in reviving the fortunes of the fast winger and with the fine combination of youth and the experienced; Foolad Khuzestan won the Persian League Title for the second time in its history.

 Not many critics have predicted that Foolad would lift the trophy at the start of the campaign, but with the presence of a coach who has an impeccable ability to get the best out of his players, and players such as Rezaei with his amazing runs, the championship was set for the Khuzestani team

 Rezaei surprisingly left Khuzestan and Foolad after one season only. Many of his supporters feared that his form will suffer under a new environment, surroundings, coach and teammates. Those fears were unfounded, because Gholam Reza Rezaei continued where he left off last season but this time in Naft Tehran.

 Naft structure is not far different than what Foolad was last season. A fine balance between youth and experience, excellent younger players, quality management , and a shrewd and adventurous coach , Alireza Mansourian , who believes in beautiful game, Naft has entertained the crowds with their style of play.

Gholamreza Rezaei vs. South Korea

 On Friday , Rezaei was the star of the show when Naft Tehran , arguably the best tactical team in the League , defeated the league leader Tractorsazi 2-1 to close the gap at the top to one point only. Gholamreza Rezaei, scored both of his team’s goals. The first one was a beauty, a team goal and a worthy candidate for the goal of the season after some real fine team work by Naft ending by a sublime assist from Iman Mobali. Rezaei scored the winner for Naft , after Tractorsazi equalized in the first half , and it was another fine goal.

 For 18 months now, Rezaei has been ignored by Team Melli despite his hard work. His championship medal and trophy, his goal scoring ability and his assists has not impressed Team Melli selectors and coaches, instead they opt for a player such as the lethargic and uninspiring Masoud Shojaei !

 It is a dilemma and an enigma put together.  There is no doubt that Queiroz wants to select the best players for Team Melli.  Also , there must be someone out there who watches Naft Tehran matches else the likes of young Pouraliganji , Ale Nemeh and Biranvand would not have been picked for Team Melli.

However, when the quality of Rezaei is ignored, one has to wonder why. Since it does not take a person to be a Professor in Physics to notice a quality player, there should be some logical reason behind his exclusion. Normally issues such as behavior, discipline and characters are motives behind such exclusions. That said , Rezaei , remains one of the gentlemen of Iran’s football, a player who gives his absolute best to the team and a strictly disciplined player whose excellence is being ignored by Queiroz and his men.

Faraki  “ Team Melli U23 was shameful & catastrophic.”

Hossein Faraki, who has replaced the Croat Zlatko Kranjcar as head coach of Sepahan Esfahan , was officially introduced to the media by the club.

Faraki expressed his utmost satisfaction and gratification for being appointed as a head coach of Sepahan.” I must admit to you that the approach by Mr. Khalilain ( CEO of Sepahan) was unexpected. It did not take long for me to accept the offer to coach such a great club and organization. I am following on the footsteps of an honorable and a great coach in Zlatko Kranjcar. It is a hard act to follow however my aim is to reach his class technically and ethically. We met briefly and talked about various things.”

Faraki answered many questions about football and the league competition. The most interesting question was his comments on the embarrassing defeat against Vietnam in the Asian Games. Faraki said “That was a shameful & catastrophic result. Such shocking performance was the result of several factors and combination, The responsibilities are shared between the coaches and managers of the team and the players themselves. They all failed , and failed miserably to an extent that the reputation of our football has been tarnished.”

The contrast between the reaction of Faraki and Lai Kaffashian is quite interesting, T he former calls it a catastrophic , the latter attributes it to the strength of the Vietnamese opposition!

Faraki , normally a cool character , reserved his sharpest criticism for Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh.” This players dismissal was a shocking, dishonorable and appalling. Such act by a player is vile especially since he is representing this nation with such high Islamic values”

Faraki also criticized the U23 players’ looks and hair designs and wished if the rest of the World Did not see these players in action!