Tag: Iran U23

Asian U23 Asian Cup 2022: Iran vs Qatar preview

Tashkent: Islamic Republic of Iran and Qatar have promised their best when they kick off their AFC U23 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2022 Group A campaign on Wednesday.
The Bunyodkor Stadium will feature a tie between two teams who have made it past the group stage in previous editions, and both head coaches are aiming to secure an early advantage in a tough group that also includes 2018 champions Uzbekistan and debutants Turkmenistan.


IR Iran   v   Qatar
AFC U23 Asian Cup
Wednesday 1 June 2022 14:00
Venue: Milliy Stadion
Head coach Mehdi Mahdavikia has named a squad with an average age of just 21, but the legendary former Team Melli defender is confident the youngsters can step up to the plate.

“We are here with a very young team but with big goals,” said Mahdavikia. “This will be a great experience for us. There are a lot of difficult teams in our group, but we will do our best to have the best results.

“We have the tournament hosts Uzbekistan, a powerful team in Qatar and a respected team in Turkmenistan. We respect all our rivals, but we want to have the best results in the group.”
Mahdavikia will be missing several players who impressed in the Qualifiers, goalkeeper Alireza Rezaei among them, but the coach doesn’t believe this has weakened his side.

“We don’t have any problems, we have many talented players in all the positions. We believe in them and that they can achieve our goals.”

#AFCU23 | Know Your Group A Teams : IR IRAN

The likes of Almoez Ali and Akram Afif first impressed in the 2018 AFC U23 Asian Cup before going on to steer Qatar to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 title and head coach Nicolas Cordova, who took over the reins from Felix Sanchez, is confident his new generation of players can make their mark as well.
“We know that it’s going to be a tough tournament,” said Chilean Cordova. “The qualification itself was tough. All the teams have the potential to win the tournament.

“We have a good young generation. Still, we have to take into consideration that we’re participating with a younger team than usual, which is part of our long term project to prepare them. I’m sure the future will be the same, where we have good players moving to the national team.”

#AFCU23 | Know Your Group A Teams : QATAR

Cordova said Qatar, who finished third in 2018, had prepared well for the tournament, including having played several friendlies.

“We are generally satisfied with the games (friendlies), because we always look for opportunities to improve and be better. “The teams in this tournament are very good, but it’s about ourselves and competing in our best way.

“We can’t talk about the minimum (target), but the maximum target is to prepare for each game in the best way and to be ready and competitive. If we are well prepared, we can aim to go far.”

Islamic Republic of Iran v Qatar
Venue: Bunyodkor Stadium (Tashkent)
Kick-off: 18:00 (UTC+5)




A long tradition of developing talented youngsters and an impressive performance in Group C of the qualifiers sees Iran head into the AFC U23 Championship as one of the genuine title contenders.

While their qualification campaign did end with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in a top-of-the-table clash, emphatic victories over Nepal (5-0), Palestine (3-0), and Afghanistan (6-0) ensured Iran qualified comfortably for Qatar as one of the five best group runners-up, with their record second only to that of Group G’s second-place finishers Thailand.

Four of those goals came courtesy of the impressive Sardar Azmoun, who has already been in eye-catching form for the senior Iran national team, with the Russia-based forward also scoring four times in the joint qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup and twice during the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia, which included a sublime individual effort against against Qatar.

Meanwhile, Arsalan Motahari has been making his mark as a potential Team Melli star of the future with a standout performance as Iran won the inaugural WAFF (West Asian Football Federation) U-23 Championship, which was also hosted in Qatar.

The Naft Tehran front man, who scored three times in the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers, netted the second goal as Iran defeated Syria 2-0 in the WAFF U-23 final and was also named the tournament’s best player at the regional competition back in October.

Iran’s Group A Fixtures

January 12: Iran v Syria (Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha)

January 15: Iran v Qatar (Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha)

January 18: Iran v China (Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Doha)




After a disappointing debut at the inaugural tournament two years ago, when they finished bottom of their group after three successive defeats, China will be determined to put in a better showing in Qatar after qualifying for the 2016 AFC U23 Championship in impressive fashion.

China kicked-off their qualifying campaign with back-to-back 5-0 victories over Mongolia and Singapore to set up a top-of-the-table clash with Group J hosts Laos, which the ended with a comfortable 3-0 win for the East Asians as Fu Bo’s side departed Vientiane with a 100% record.

China’s 13 qualifying goals were spread throughout the team with five players scoring twice while coach Fu also has at his disposal three squad member who have experience with clubs in Europe namely Zhang Yuning, who signed for Dutch side Vitesse last July, and substitute goalkeeper Yeerjieti Yeerzati and defender Chen Zhechao, who play in the Portuguese lower leagues with Gondomar and Torreense respectively.

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)

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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