Tag: Iraq

FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers Third Round explained.

The second round of double qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup concluded on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, marking the beginning of two new chapters in Asian football.

2027 Asian Cup Qualification:

  • 18 teams secured their spots in the 2027 Asian Cup by finishing first or second in the second-round groups.
  • These 18 teams will also participate in the decisive third round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

The Third Round of 2026 World Cup Qualifiers:

  • In this stage, the 18 qualified teams will compete in a group system, with each group containing 6 teams.
  • The top two teams from each group will directly qualify for the 2026 World Cup.
  • For the first time in history, the Asian continent will have 8 seats at the World Cup.
  • The remaining 6 teams will vie for the last two spots through a fourth round.
  • The fourth round will feature two groups, each comprising 3 teams. The top team from each group will secure direct qualification to the World Cup.

Draw Date:

  • The draw for the third round of the 2026 Asian World Cup qualifiers is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the headquarters of the Asian Football Confederation.


The following teams finished first or second in their respective second-round groups:


The seeding for the draw was based on the FIFA Men’s World Rankings on 20 June 2024 (shown in parentheses below).

Each group will contain one team from each of the six pots.

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3
 Japan (17) Iran (20) South Korea (22) Australia (23) Qatar (35) Iraq (55) Saudi Arabia (56) Uzbekistan (62) Jordan (68)
Pot 4Pot 5Pot 6
 United Arab Emirates (69) Oman (76) Bahrain (81) China (88) Palestine (95) Kyrgyzstan (101) North Korea (110) Indonesia (134) Kuwait (137)

Best case Scenario for Iran

While teams in pots 2 and 3 can spring surprises for the three leading Teams, Japan, Iran and Korea Republic, the other teams are by no means easy opponents either. However, based on ranking, location and current form, Team Melli can do with a comfortable group. The best that Iran can get in the draw next week is this group.

These teams are quite familiar for Iran and the biggest advantage will be travelling time. Three of the teams are neighbours, while the other two (Jordan and Kyrgzysran) are 2 1/2 hrs to flying time Amman while Bishkek is 3 hrs 15 minutes.
In case Iran gets North Korea and/or Australia, it will be a logistical nightmare.

Team Melli, is one win away from qualifying for World Cup 2026 – Round 3 preliminaries.

Team Melli needs to repeat its victory against Turkmenistan next Tuesday in Asghabad, to clinch a place in the third round stages of FIFA World Cup 2026 – AFC zone.

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FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers- AFC ZONE Round 2 -Group E

Iran plus seven other teams will advance to the Round Three of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers if they win the next game in Day 4 to be played next Tuesday. With seven points and a better goal difference than Uzbekistan, Iran is topping the group. Other teams include Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Japan, Australia, and the UAE are the eight teams that are certain to advance.

Iran will face Turkmenistan on Tuesday 26th at Asghhabat

More Team Melli preparatory matches arranged

According to Mehdi Taj, the Head of IRIFF, Team Melli will meet Capo Verde for a match on 12th September as part of FIFA Day, a few days after playing Bulgaria.

Capo Verde, (Cape Verde) is an archipelago off the western coast of Africa, until three-fourths of the 20th century, was under the governance of Portugal. It is ranked 66 in the FIFA Ranking and has produced good quality footballers that played in Europe, particularly Portugal.

The match against Capo Verde will most probably be held in Iran although the venue is not finalized yet. This is the first time, the two meet at any level.

Taj also confirmed that Iran accepted the invitation of the Jordanian FA for participation in the Jordan four nations tournament 2023 which will be held in Amman. Apart from host Jordan, Oman, and Iraq will join Iran in this tournament, the second of its kind after last year’s. Iran will play Iraq on the 13th of October in the first match. The winner of this match will meet the winner of Jordan vs Qatar on the 16th of October.

With four international friendly matches scheduled, and possibly more, AMir Ghalenoei will have plenty of opportunity to arrange his desired lineup for AFC Asian Cup 2023 which will start on January 2024.

WAFF U23 2023

Omid team to meet host Iraq in the final of WAFF U23 Cup.

Omid Team (Iran U23) defeated Jordan in a penalty shootout to book a place in the final match against host Iraq.

The match was a dour affair with neither of the teams impressing in a match that only saw two serious attempts at scoring. The extra time was not played as usual as after the goalless draw the match went directly to penalty Shootouts which ended 4-3 in favor of Iran.

Reza Enayati, the head coach of the Omid team said: “As of now, our celebration and joy period happiness is over and we are only thinking about the final.” said in the press conference after the win against Jordan and advancing to the finals of the West Asian Under-23 Championship ” Jordan is a good team and we had a tough game. I have to thank the players of the team who showed zeal and were able to achieve this result.”

He continued:” Now the joy of winning in the semi-final is over and we should only think about the final. It doesn’t matter to us whether the opponent is Iraq or Oman. We strive for success. In response to a question about the physical pressure on the team’s players at the end of the second half, Enayati said: This was predictable because we play every other day. Of course, our players managed the game well in the second half. He added: ” We went through difficult training conditions. We had to practice in Karbala from 5 to 6 o’clock, which caused a lot of physical pressure. In the matter of recovery, there was also a problem of compression of matches.”

Iran Omid Team led by the brilliant Yasin Salmani, is looking to take back the trophy last won by an Iranian team 14 years ago in Amman.

Host Iraq narrowly defeated Oman 1-0 to set up the final on Tuesday in Karbala at 21:30 local time.

Omid team defeats Syria in WAFF U23 championship.

Iran’s Omid football team defeated Syria 3-1 in its first match in the under-23 West Asia tournament played in Karbala Stadium (Karbala), Iraq.

Yasin Salmani (9 and 45) and Ahmad Shariatzadeh (15) scored Iran’s goals. Also, Mohammad Al-Asoud (45) scored the only goal for the Syrians

The Syrians embark on a tough physical and at times violent game in the final minutes of the match. This issue caused tension between the players of the two teams as well as the bench with Omid coach Reza Enayati clashing with his Syrian counterpart. This was Enayati’s first experience at the international level which he has no experience before as a coach. It was a sweet victory for the rookie coach and a firm step in the tournament. Iran Omids Team is counting on a good performance in preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 4th WAFF U23 tournament is held in Iraq and has 3 groups. It was first held in Qatar in 2015, Iran was absent.

Group A features UAE, Jordan, and Iraq

Group B features: Syria, Palestine, and Iran

Group C features: Yemen, Oman, and Lebanon

Iran’s Omid team will play Palestine on Friday at 19:45 local.

Team Melli to play in a 4-side tournament

According to the official website of the Football Federation, Teaam Melli under  Amir Ghalenoei is going to participate in the 4-side 2023 Jordan international Football tournament in Jordan. This tournament is expected to be played in the Jordanian capital Amman with the presence of the host nation, Iraq, Qatar, and Iran.

This tournament which normally takes place during the autumn  2023 window of the FIFA International Match Calendar, will be held in Amman, Jordan in October this year. FIFA days for the period are 9–17 October 2023

In last year’s edition Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Oman participated in the tournament. Jordan won the tournament by defeating Oman 1–0 in the final

Milad Kor suspended for 1 year due to crtisicm of FFIRI and U20 team coach

Milkad Kor, one of the pillars of the Iran U20 team that has failed to qualify beyond the quarter-final after losing to the finalist Iraq, has been given a heavy-handed suspension by the FFIRI for daring to speak out against the Federation and lack of support for the U20 team in AFC Asian Cup U20 that was held in Uzbekistan.

MIlad Kor , Tractor’s defender was suspended from all football activities by the Disciplinary Committee of FFIRI. He was also handed a heft fine payable to the federation.

Interestingly, unlike the rest of the world, this federation did NOT mention why the player, one of Iran’s better future prospects, has been given such a heavy sentence and whether he was allowed to defend himself against any supposed allegations. The tyrannical sentence is in line with the regime’s complete intolerance of its system including expression of thought that is published in a publication under government control. There is no independent journalism in Iran. Amazingly not one of the Iranian news and sports publications that published the news of Kor’s ban attempted to seek an explanation or question the FFIRI. All of them just copied and pasted the FFIRI disciplinary committee’s notice which was published on the federation’s own website!!

In the longish interview with ‘Hamshahri; newspaper, Kor’s main criticism was directed at Samad Marfavi, the team’s coach, and the lack of support by the federation. There were no bonuses paid to the players, he claims. Kor was also critical for the team’s management’s refusal to use the swimming pool for recovery like the rest of the teams because the pool was mixed and there could be girls swimming too!  While the defender had some praise for Mirshad Majedi, he was quite scathing of Marfavi’s behavior and discriminatory acts among the players in the squad.

Meanwhile, Kor and for the first time said that the players were just about to go on strike and refuse to take part in training before the Iraq game because of the indifference of the management towards their demands.  ” In the Vietnam game, we were determined to do our best to prove ourselves and we got what we wanted, but in the Iraq game, we had no motivation. Some players did not have money to buy shoes and took loans to buy them. Some players did not have a club to play for as such they had no income. The whole situation transpired into a toxic atmosphere. We were mentally in a terrible state plus we really never had proper recovery exercise before the match with Iraq” Milad Kor said in the interview.

Hamshari reporter asked Kor “What was the story of not going to the swimming pool?” to which Kor replied ” They didn’t allow us the use of the swimming pool because there were girls in there! Well,  if this is the case, why bother forming a team when basic requirements cannot be entertained? Our bodies were fatigued half destroyed and yet we were deprived of cool water. Excuse me, but this is no back alley team that does not have such facilities and if there are ones, you are not allowed to use them.”

“In Tehran, Marfavi was not in a good mood at all since he had not received his money from the federation, he did not even come to the airport to see us off. Later, after he got his money, he joined the team. But he did not lend support to the demands of players’ bonuses. If a head coach wants the good of a player, he needs to stand by him, but this gentleman was selfish. We finished first in the group of death and had an easy quarter-final draw. Iraq also plays like us and its style of play was like ours. But we had no motivation, we were empty from the beginning of the game. I used to say that I wish we were in Iran and called several people and told them to at least bring supplements. “

“A whole generation was wasted. Our generation was golden and by the grace of my mother, we could have won the Asian championship and won the World Cup or at least advanced from the group, but they wasted our generation, with their incompetent hands. We beat Vietnam and became the group leader, but…”

The 19 years old player who is born in Bandar Torkaman, is fully supported by his club Tractor which intends to file a strong appeal against the harsh suspension.

Iraq friendly match cancelled.

Mohammad Mehdi Nabi, an executive at the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI), has announced the cancellation of Team Melli’s second friendly game. The match was scheduled to take place after their friendly against Russia.

According to Nabi, the reason for the cancellation was that Iraq suggested hosting the match in their country. However, this proposal was not accepted by FFIRI due to their prior arrangement to play against Russia in Tehran. “We have finalized one game and our goal is to have a second match here in Tehran as well,” said Nabi.

FFIRI personnel are actively seeking another team to play against on FIFA day. Amir Ghalenoei will test his selection against Russia on March 23rd. It is believed that most legionnaires will be available for this match, which coincides with the Nowrooz festivities. The exception is Majid Hosseini, whose Turkish club announced his injury last week.


Amir Ghalenoei already active in Team Melli preparations.

Amir Ghalenoei is wasting no time in his quest to prepare Team Melli for the two upcoming friendlies on FIFA Day.

The newly appointed Team Melli head coach will announce the list of 23 to 26 players after the conclusion of the match between Golgohar and Foolad Kusestan in the Hazfi Cup. on March 17th. The training camp will commence on 19th March as the players will start arriving at the National Teams Training center in Tehran. Despite the prior announcement that the coaching team has already been selected, the assistants to  Amir Ghalenoei in the Iranian national team has not yet been determined, and considering that Mehdi Taj is away from the country, attending the FIFA Congress, Ghalenoei had meetings with the executive officials of the national team today to prepare for the camp. Mehdi Taj announced yesterday that the names of Ghalenoei’s assistants have not yet been determined, but a foreign coach will be part of the coaching staff alongside national coaches.

On the other hand, an ongoing poll by ISNA on the question of whether Ghalenoei is the right choice for Team Melli had a 50-50 split.

Iran will play Russia and then Iraq on the first FIFA Day of the year

Yet another failure for Iran Javanan team. Iran U20 out of the competition.

Iran’s Javanan team (U20) lost to Iraq 1-0 in the quarter-final game of the AFC Asian U20 Cup 2023 in Uzbekistan. The team also lost the chance to qualify for the FIFA World Cup U20 to be held in Indonesia later this year.

In a scruffy match that had no resemblance to modern football but much more like street football, both teams pulled back and did not attempt to attack the opposition. The first half did not register a single shot on target by both teams.

The fear of conceding and losing dominated the mentality of both teams in the second half too, with the match suffering from this poor attitude. It was clear that both teams were content with playing out a goalless draw to try their luck in a penalty shootout. The lethargic match was dragging on and being an eye sore for the few fans in the stadium but was temporarily set alive in the 71st minute when Iraq’s keeper saved beautifully from a fine free-kick by Iran’s forward Hosseinzadeh. That was the first and only shot on target registered by the Iranians during the whole match.

In the dying minutes, a shambolic and totally embarrassing Iranian defense was easily penetrated by the Iraqi forward, Sajjad who shot hurriedly toward the goal, while three Iran defenders surrounded him. His shot was towards the far corner of Iran keeper Zarei who stood watching the ball roll past him into the net!! Serious failure of defense has been witnessed many times in this tournament.

It was all that Iraq needed and the sudden last-minute highly emotional Iranian awakening came to nothing as the Iraqis held firm and celebrated wildly after the referee’s whistle for qualifying for the finals of the FIFA U20 World Cup.

The less said about the match, the better as it was only an ugly, amateurish performance by both teams which was a bad advert for Asian youth football.

Despite all the handicaps that the Iranian team had way before the tournament started, Samad Marfavi is guilty of a lack of courage and tactical enterprise. Technically speaking, there was very little expected from Marfavi, a modest also-ran coach whose achievements in his coaching career come to zero. However, he could have for at least one important game, changed the mentality of his team, and encouraged them to be winners. His lack of courage, his ineffective coaching, his failure to identify gaps in the team, and his lack of influence were all factors in this defeat. Yes, without a doubt, a more qualified and competent coach would have made a change in this team that is no short of individual skills.

 Not that Iraq is any better than Iran nor is it a formidable team, however, they were better coached and managed defensively under their head coach Emad Mohammad knowing, a man who is very well familiar with Iranian football and its weaknesses.  The ex-Sepahan Esfahan player was victorious despite the lackluster performance in this match and that is what counts.

After 47 years of failures, Iran Javan has to wait another two years for another shot for the title. Frankly, under such a federation management, a group of modest below-par domestic coaches, and a lack of international exposure, it will be hardly unlikely that Iran U20 will do anything better soon.

No doubt, Samad Marfavi, will have a bag full of excuses and justifications while cursing that good old luck, however, he is better off practicing his trade at the lower-division teams in Iran. Unfortunately, after many years in coaching, he has yet to taste success.