Tag: Karim Bagheri

Azmoun has an amazing scoring record.

Sardar Azmoun scored against Palestine to reach the 50-goal mark equaling Karim Bagheri. As Azmoun has a higher Goal Per Match GPM, he stands second only to the legendary Ali Daei whose record will not be broken anytime soon.

Azmoun is only 29 years old and has a good 5-6 years left for him to reach a scoring figure close to Daei. He has been playing for a decade for Team Melli and narrowly missed selection for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014. However, he has been present in every season since, and this year he celebrates 10 years with an amazing record of 50 goals.

Azmoun’s records show that he played an average of 7.6 matches for Team Melli every year and scored 5 goals in these 7.6 matches an average of .66 GPM. A terrific record only bettered by the legendary Ali Daei whose Goals Per Match is 0.74

Astonishingly, Sardar has yet to play in the domestic league, although he was registered with Sepahan at the start of his career. As he was playing abroad all his career, he missed many chances to play for Team Melli.



1ALI DAEI113.74N


Only 8 players in the history of Team Melli have managed to pass the 100 caps club, the latest of them is Karim Ansarifard. The list is headed by Javas Nekounam followed by Daei with Ehsan Hajsafy lurking in third place with 15 matches short of Daei. The 33-year-old Team Melli Captain has a good chance of surpassing both Daei and Nekounam as Team Melli is involved in the FIFA World Cup 2026 preliminaries with games coming thick and fast.

1Javad NEKOUNAM 157
2Ali DAEI 151
3Ehsan HAJSAFI 136
4Mohammad Ali KARIMI 130
5Jalal HOSSEINI 114
7Andranik TEYMOURIAN 101

Iran-Palestine: Match preview

  • 24 hours to go for Team Melli’s first Match.
    * Palestine will not be easy prey.
    * Ghalenoei “We will play attacking football”

Iran and Palestine will start their campaign in the 18th AFC Asian Cup 2023 at Education City Stadium at 20:30 local time. In the pre-match Press Conference, both managers followed the standard narratives and claims about the importance of the match, with Ghalenoei considering it like a Final for Team Melli!

What is certain though, is Palestine will be playing a solid defensive game, perhaps like parking a double-decker in front of their goalkeeper. The responsibility is on Ghalenoei to form a plan to break this tactic which is now being followed by many weaker teams in front of more powerful opposition.

This gameplan by Palestine, with an eye on quick counterattacks on Iran’s goal might spring a surprise on the final result. The more the Palestinian team can hold on, the more difficult is the task for Iran and that includes the psychological pressure and fan’s reaction to a deadlock.

On the other hand, an early goal by Iran will make Team Melli play at a comfortable pace and dictate the match. On paper, Iran is a much stronger team in every sense. They have the experience, the pedigree, the quality, and have been playing some eye-catching football recently. They are undefeated in two years since losing to the USA in the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Palestine has not enjoyed much success at the international level and has been winless since they defeated Bahrain 2-1 in March 2023. Palestine played eight matches since and has failed to register a win, losing 5 times and drawing 3. In those 8 matches, they scored one goal only while failing to score in seven. This team has a big problem up front. On the other hand, they have a solid defense and one that has yet to crash against the might of Australia, Uzbekistan, and Saudi Arabia.

So, expecting a goal ruch from Azmoun and Taremi, is easier said than done, hence the importance of an early goal.

Interestingly, they have two professional players who play in the Israel league. They have not featured as regulars as many other professionals occupy the starting lineup.

First time
This will be the first meeting between Iran and Palestine in the AFC Asian Cup; the last time Team Melli faced a team for the first time in the competition was on 12 January 2019 v Vietnam – scoring a 2-0 win.

Win target
Palestine is yet to register a victory in the AFC Asian Cup, having gone winless (D2 L4) in the 2015 and 2019 editions; this is their third appearance in the competition.

Iran are unbeaten in each of their last 20 group stage games (W15 D5) in the AFC Asian Cup; in fact, the last time they lost the opening game in the competition was a 1-2 loss to Iraq in 1996, having won the last six such games since then on the bounce. 

Terrific duo
No player recorded more touches in the opposition box in 2019 than Iran’s duo of Sardar Azmoun (42) and Mehdi Taremi (33); Palestine’s best player in this category in the previous edition was Mahmoud Wadi with six such touches. 

Sardar Azmoun has scored 49 goals for Team Melli. He needs just one more goal to equal Karim Bagheri who has 50 goals and is only second to the legendary Ali Daei in the list of the highest scorers of Team Melli.

The manager of Team Melli resigns.

Hamid Estili has submitted his resignation as the Manager of Iran’s National Team.

Estili’s resignation comes in the aftermath of the sacking of Dragan Skocic which he considered immoral and unethical while the Croat was under contract and busy preparing Team Melli for training camp in Austria. In a post on his social Media Page, Estili announced that he resigned from his post.

lPrEarlier on, Karim Bagheri, another member of Skocic’s technical staff and advisor to the coach, announced his departure from Team Melli coaching team. . Yesterday (Wednesday), Dragan Skocic was officially removed from his post by Mehdi Taj.

What should happen now in Team Melli.

Mirshad Majedi and the rest of the board members of the federation, after a long and winding meeting , decided on the status quo and that the incumbent head coach of Team Melli shall remain in charge up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 and beyond.

That was the best decision possible under the circumstances and taken for the sake of Team Melli with crucial days left up to the world cup. Majedi did not succumb to pressure exerted mainly by the Minister of Sport and some other elements who were influenced by a group of Team Melli players.

To be clear, the categorical refusal of Ali Daei to take over from Skocic despite several attempts or pleas, was the catalyst in Skocic’s survival. There were no alternative viable options and the conditions of Team Melli would have been disastrous if Skocic was sacked.

Despite reaching the wisest decisions possible by the FFIRI leadership, the problem with Team Melli is far from over. There must be action by the FFIRI to eliminate the rebels in the squad else these disruptive elements will make the Croat job impossible in Qatar. There is no doubt among many experts that some players will not be happy with this decision while some begrudgingly will tag along.

Hamid Estili’s position

The man that should support Team Melli’s coaching staff has taken a side and worked against Skocic. He was a member of the Technical Committee that decided that the Croat is not qualified as a coach of Team Melli.  Hamid Estili must accept his poor insight and should resign his post immediately to save face. Estili however, is a man of thousand faces and changes positions in a blink. He will try to weasel his way out of this situation, however, it is better for the federation to sack him from the job before he inflicts damage.

The rebel players.

Including the rebel players who are led by Mehdi Taremi in the squad for the World Cup is a serious risk. In addition to Taremi, there are players such as Karim Ansarifard, Ehsan Haj Safy, and Saeid Ezatollahi, with some mention of Alireza Jahanbaksh being in this rebellion group.

No doubt that Jahanbakhsh and Taremi are key players and getting rid of them could be a disadvantage to Team Melli. Their experience and abilities are undeniable, however, much depends on how Skocic will perceive these players and likewise the player’s comfort level with the coach, especially after some bad feelings made publicly by some of them.

It is a difficult formula and there must be a middle-of-the-road solution. Keeping all the rebel players is certainly a risk. From the track record,  Skocic does not score high in the discipline department. He is not like Daei or Queiroz both of who are no-nonsense coaches and have no time for indiscipline. So, controlling the rebels and their effect on the whole squad could be a difficult task for him. The leadership of the football federation must come to his support and coordinate with the coaching staff and in consultation with Karim Bagheri, who was an assistant coach until lately when Persepolis pulled him back,  should come up with the right decision.

One school of thought believes that some of the rebel players are dispensable and could be thrown out as an example to the rest, while the two most valuable of them should be kept under strict behavioral restrictions and maintained discipline. The reputation and name of Iran especially at such a level of competition are far greater than the interest of some players never mind what European league they are playing in.

If a player is selected to represent his country, he has no right to decide who the coach is and must give 100% to the team under whichever coach is appointed, period.

Team Melli news update.

Team Melli is preparing fror the friendly match against the Canadian national team on the morning of June 6. As per the announcement of the Canadian Federation, 50 people can be included in the list of Iran’s squad traveling to Vancouver for this match. FFIRI has also prepared a list of names of people who can accompany Team Melli on this trip. According to the list that will be soon submitted by head coach Dragan Skocic, the FFIRI will proceed with the administrative affairs related to issuing visas. Between 23 to 25 players will be selected plus the coaching staff and the support group, medical kits, and Culinary team are expected to be included in the list. It is also expected that security agents and undercover police be part of the group keeping an eye on the players.

Dragan Skočić

The Croatian head coach of Team Melli who has recently returned to Tehran from his holiday is just about to announce the final list of the Team Melli’s squad traveling to Canada. One major absentee will be Saman Ghoddos who is still on the injury list and not fully fit for competitive matches.

Skočić is still hoping that the federation could find a second opponent in Canada as it seems that the Ecuador match is in doubt.

Karim Bagheri.

The Football Federation of Iran FFIRI has crossed out Karim Bagheri’s name from the list that was submitted to the  Canadian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, for visa application. Karim Bagheri’ was given the choice to be either a part of the Team Melli coaching staff full time or maintain his post as assistant in the Persepolis team. Due to the requirement of Team Melli at this stage, the federation did not find it feasible for Krim to hold both posts simultaneously.

Dragan Skocic, the head coach of the Iranian national team, along with the executive officials of the Football Federation, have opposed the simultaneous presence of Karim Bagheri in Persepolis and the national team regarding the national team’s qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Therefore, the name of Karim Bagheri has been removed from the ranks of Skocic’s assistants, and he will definitely not accompany the national team on his trip to Canada.

Khodadad Azizi

On other hand, Mirshad Majedi, the acting head of the Football Federation, with the approval of the executive and technical committee of the Iranian national team, has agreed with the appointment of former Team Melli star Khodadad Azizi as part of the coaching staff during this trip to Canada. Azizi has been included in the list of visa applications. It seems like the possibility of his permanent presence as a replacement for Karim Bagheri is a serious possibility.

Mirshad Majedi

The acting head of the FFIRI is likely to head the delegation to Canada although it has not been confirmed yet. The Canadian Federation has requested in its contract the presence of the highest official of the federation on this trip for the possibility of negotiations of cooperation development, mutual agreement on future friendlies, and other areas of support between the two federations.  Therefore, Majidi is likely to accompany the national team on their trip to Canada.

Istanbul Camp.

The Football Federation has planned a mini-camp in Istanbul which allows  Skocic to train his player for at least three sessions in Istanbul. Apart from physically obtaining the visas, the squad will most probably have to travel to Vancouver through Istanbul anyway, so that created an opportunity for a mini-training camp that Skocic duly agreed uupon.

The Canadian connection.

the Football Federation of Iran and its Canadian counterpart expressed concern about some adverse comments regarding the match. The bad propaganda against Iran’s visit and the match in Vancouver are not sport-related and it is meant to negatively influence the potential attendees against the Iranian regime.  In this letter, the Football Federation of Iran, according to the clauses in the contract, has demanded stern action by the authorities against any kind of political protest and anti-regime slogans in the stadium.  It also demanded that the match be held in a complete sporting atmosphere and not spoiled by politics

. The Iranian Federation has stated that any political gathering during the presence of the Iranian convoy in Vancouver should be stopped and the necessary guarantees should be given in this regard. In the contract for this meeting, the host country has given a full commitment that it will not allow any formally and planned political protests. However, the Iranian Football Federation is waiting for an official response from its counterpart to ensure this. Canada responds explicitly The Canadian Federation, in response to a letter from the Iranian Football Federation, has announced that it has signed a contract with Iran as an independent body and will provide a full guarantee for the match without any political interference.

Letter of appreciation

 The second letter of tFFIRI to Canada includes thanks and appreciation for the response of Soccer Canada against political meddling and its rights to arrange friendly matches as it deems necessary for Team Canada.  The letter mentioned in part that Soccer Canada is an approved and independent body and that nothing could be expected but to maintain transparency and commitment to the contract signed by the country that will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Termination of this contract will only be possible under extreme conditions or unpredictable events and hence “force majeure” will be activated. If the game between the two teams is to be canceled under the “force majeure” conditions, no compensation will be awarded to either party.

Friendly with Albania

FFIRI  was negotiating with several federations for friendly games in Doha amongst them was Albania. This UEFA member is currently occupying 65 places in FIFA Ranking against Iran’s 21st. Albania never qualified for any world cup in its history and hardly has any famous name on its national team. Yet, this team demanded a large fee for the match plus all expenses paid by FFIRI for the Albanian squad.

FFIRI respectfully turned down the Albanian demands, however, the audacity of the Albanians seems to be laughable!!!

Payment fo the local coaches of Team Melli are still on hold!

Dragan Skočić has arranged the Training camp program in preparation for Team Melli games, but the task of his Iranian assistants and their involvement in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is still unclear. Karim Bagheri and Vahid Hashemian were the assistant coaches of Iran on the way to the World Cup, along with Mehrdad Khanban who is the team analyst. Apparently, the Football Federation has not yet been able to pay the full salaries of the national team’s local coaches, which resulted in a protest by Bagheri and Hashemian.

After the draw for the World Cup in Qatar, Skocic’s Iranian assistants asked for their bonuses and payment as per the contract, but the Football Federation’s response to this legitimate request was even stranger than before. The FFIRI declared lack of money as the main reason for the non-payment of its obligation to the local technical staff of Team Melli and stated that it will not be able to pay these amounts until the funds awed to Iran are credited to the federation by FIFA .

The financial resources of FFIRI are limited and the bank account is just about empty as FIFA is still withholding Iran’s dues from the qualification matches, despite the fact that the team reached the Qatar World Cup early. The most concerning issue is also the failure of FFIRI has still failed to sign contracts for friendly games with the world’s most prestigious football teams. It seems that the priority for Mirshad Majedi, the acting head of FFIRI and members of the board of directors, is still to hold a general assembly of the federation to determine the fate of Shahabuddin Azizi Khadem, the deposed head while Team Melli is still not a top priority despite the promises.

Karim Bagheri update on Team Melli.

Karim Bagheri has been loaned to Team Melli as an administrator and advisor. He recently commented on the latest situation of the Team Melli squad which is preparing for two crucial matches against Lebanon and Syria in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers,

Bagheri said: “No match is an easy one, especially at this stage of the competition where all teams are trying to get the results to qualify for the World Cup. The same goes for Lebanon. This team (Lebanon) is playing at home and is determined to achieve the best result.” He added: “on the other hand, our side is the national team of Iran with the best players it has. We always do our best to get good results in every match. It is important for our national team to win this one. We also have a tough game ahead against Syria. In these few days, we have prepared ourselves well and the players are ready to play hard with good recovery and training.”

Referring to the team’s training in Lebanon on artificial turf, the national team coach emphasized: “The first training session was held on artificial turf because the situation did not allow us to train on natural grass. We have this issue on Tuesday as well, but this is no excuse at all as we will practice with all our might on the main field the day before the game.”

Regarding the controversy created after dropping Mehdi Taremi from the latest Team Melli list, Bagheri said: “In the last few days, things happened that created a lot of conflict and disputes. These disagreements and conflicting opinions have always existed in football. On the subject of Skocic and Taremi, our media friends could have reflected the issues much better and more rationally. We have two important games ahead. All the media outlets could have paused and kept the issue under control until we finish with these two games and then proceed to discuss and comment on the issue.”

He pointed out “There was a lot of talk in these few days. Mr. Skocic, Mr. Khorshidi  (the Manager of Team Melli) and I called Taremi several times to resolve any problems. Dialogue can solve problems. We could have arrested this controversy, but unfortunately, Taremi did not answer me or Mr. Skocic!” Karim Bagheri emphasized: “The last person told me to call Mehdi, but I already have called him twice, unfortunately – Taremi did not answer. He could have his own reasons for such. God willing, these problems will be solved and Mehdi will return to the national team. Mehdi is one of our most in-form players, both in the national team and his club. He works hard and has made very good progress in his career. We do not deny this. “

The coach of the Iranian national team clarified: “If Mehdi had talked to me or Skocic, the case would have been settled more easily. Mehdi’s failure to speak fueled this problem. I ask everyone not to drag this issue by blowing it out of proportion. I see on some sites that they are polling who is right and who is lying!! Support the national team because this team is for Iran and not for one or two people. We have to look at the national team as a whole. I ask the press, television, and media to support the national team. Creating controversy, inflating the situation could have negative effects on the squad. Only the name of the national team should matter, not the interest of a person. We need to come out heads high after these two games.”

Iran is playing Lebanon on 11th November in Sidon.

The indiscretion of Mehdi Taremi !

A reliable source close to Team Melli camp has revealed to Khabar Varzeshi that after Mehdi Taremi’s tweet a while ago and on the recommendation of the Football Federation, Dragan Skocic tried to mend his relationship with the Porto star.

On this basis, the Croatian head coach personally contacted Mehdi Taremi in Portugal to explain his interview with a Croatian website and to discuss and resolve the misunderstanding, however, no matter how many times Dragan Skocic calls Mehdi Taremi’s mobile, the Porto player does not pick up to answer the phone of his national team head coach!

Text messages sent to Taremi by the Croatian coach remained unanswered! Dragan Skocic then asks his Iranian assistant Vahid Hashemian to call Mehdi Taremi and help end the misunderstanding while complaining about the unanswered phone call. Surprisingly, Taremi ignores phone calls and messages of Vahid Hashemian too. As a final measure, these two coaches of the national team assign Karim Bagheri the task of contacting Taremi.

Skocic believes that considering Karim’s history and stature in Team Melli and Persepolis, it is impossible for Mehdi Taremi not to answer the phone of his former coach, but still, the calls are one-sided and useless! It is alleged that Mehdi Taremi, has found out that Karim Bagheri had called him because of Dragan Skocic issue, so Taremi ignored Bagheri’s call too.

 On this basis, the Croatian head coach decided to drop Taremi from the squad, because that tweet and this behavior are not justified and will cause more division in the Iranian national team camp.

Taremi is a player who is always close to controversy. His behavior remains unprofessional and poorly disciplined. Currently, in Portugal, there is a campaign against Taremi for his simulation in the penalty box and diving, according to his club coach. Taremi’s disciplinary record in Porto is quite poor for a striker. He has also been dismissed in a UEFA Champions League match for childish behavior right after receiving a yellow card, which lead to another yellow and dismissal.

Dragan Skocic to contact Taremi is commended to reduce any tension. His dropping of Taremi is quite justified especially since Team Melli and Skocic have a rich number of forwards at his disposal. Players like Ghaedi and Sayadmanesh, who form the future of Iran’s football deserve to be given opportunities upfront, while Sardar Azmoun is available and capable and enjoying his most successful seasons in Europe.

Taremi is developing into another Mehdi Rahmati and Hadi Aghili who thought they are above Team Melli. Like Carlos Queiroz, this time Skocic is teaching the renegades a lesson. A strong coach is a necessity for Team Melli and indisciplined players, regardless of their status, must be dropped as they will become a liability in the future and a bad example.

Karim Bagheri appointed as Team Melli Minder.

The inclusion of Karim Bagheri, assistant coach of Champions Persepolis in the technical or administration cadre of Team Melli former, has raised many questions and debates.

Former head coach of Esteghlal and former Team Melli player, Parviz Mazloomi opined about Karim Bagheri joining the technical staff. He said “ I have known Karim Bagheri for many years. He was a disciplined and good-natured player whose standards were high in terms of technique and personality during his playing days, but I do not know how he is technically and whether he is technically effective in the technical staff of Persepolis or not. However, I hope Bagheri can help the national team with his experiences.”

Many people perhaps have a similar opinion to Mazloomi. Bagheri is still an unknown quality in the field of coaching. His only experience is with Persepolis, where it is difficult to judge on how his presence has influenced the team as a whole.

However, a few experts suspect that Bagheri’s presence as an observer is for order and discipline, ensuring that the players remain orderly and behave responsibly.  Despite Mazloomi’s denial of any knowledge of that aspect of Bagheri’s appointment, he, however, added that “Karim has been a great player and even in the most difficult times when Persepolis was in crisis, he has been able to manage the players well as a Team Captain and I still wish he could be productive in the national team.”

One of the biggest shortfalls of Iran’s football has been the attitude and the indiscipline of the players. In the last couple of years, there has been plenty of embarrassing situations where Team Melli was let down by the bad attitude and petulant behavior of supposedly professional players on or off the field. The semi-Final match against Japan in Al Ain in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 was the biggest example of Iranian players meltdown and subsequent heavy defeat. That match should be taught at every club in Iran so these mistakes are not repeated.

Dragan Skocic is new to National Team coaching, He will be dealing with players in Team Melli that a few weeks, were at each other’s throats in the league matches involving Persepolis, Esteghlal, and Sepahan. Poor discipline, constant protest at referees, petulant attitude on the field, childish goal celebration and at times total failure to commit the most basics of skills required has marred Iran. A strong character like Bagheri might be too little and too late, but given the circumstances. it is not a bad idea at all for him to be present in the camp to keep a watchful eye.

No matter how skillful a coach is and highly successful if his tactical plans are not implemented on the field due to the attitude of the players or their poor tactical discipline, such a team will not be going far.

Both Iran’s defeats against Bahrain and Iraq were results of poor tactical coverage. A needless penalty gave Bahrain the edge, while the might of Azmoun and Taremi failed to find the net, and then the last-minute poor defensive coverage in Amman against Iraq, lead to Iraq’s winning goal.

There is not much to hope for from the administration of the FFIRI as has been historically witnessed for decades. Their failures are institutional, The failure to arrange any friendly games before these crucial matches,  is yet another proof that no matter who is running the football federation in Iran, the culture of incompetence, disorganization, and ineptitude prevails in that federation responsible for Team Melli affairs. Therefore, small measures such as giving Bagheri a seat on the bench might miraculously assist Team Melli to pass through these dire straits to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers.

Iranian assistant coach for Skocic is to be named.

The Croatian Head coach of Team Melli will soon identify his Iranian assistant among five candidates.

Dragan Skočić, has taken over the post after the mediocre tenure of the Belgian Marc Wilmots in which Iran’s qualification for the next round of FIFA World Cup 2022 Asian zone qualifiers is under threat

Skocic will soon be supported by an Iranian assistant coach. There are 5 candidates in the pot for the post;

According to the reports, Karim Bagheri, Moharram Navidkia, Sohrab BakhtiariZadeh, Pirouz Ghorbani, and Vahid Hashemian are the most likely candidates for the job as Skocic aide.

Karim Bagheri: (46 Years) Assistant coach to Perspolis in two separate periods under Golamahammadi and Daei. Bagheri has not achieved FIFA Class certification but has the strongest international background as a player with 87 caps and 50 international goals for Team Melli.

Moharram Navidkia: (37 Years) the least experienced of the lot. Very little coaching experience with Sepahan. Navidkia has a complex sulky character that is not well suited for coaching.  As a player, he scored one goal in 25 caps for Iran.

Sohrab BakhtiariZadeh: (42 years) head coach of Naft Masjed Soleiman in 2016, followed by  Iran U-23 assistant coach between 2018–2019. As a player, he scored 4 goals, including the goal against Angola in the FIFA 2006 World Cup in 37 caps for Iran.

Pirouz Ghorbani: (42 years) It is not clear whether Ghorbani has any coaching experience in his CV. The former Esteghlal player who retired from football in 2015 with Saba Qom, has not been officially appointed in any coaching position. He played 6 matches for Team Melli.

Vahid Hashemian:(43 years) Selected as an assistant to Wilmots based on his knowledge of German which both Wilmots and Hashemian speak fluently. Hashemian has attended several training coaches courses in Germany and achieved German certification.  he managed  SV Halstenbek-Rellingen, for one season then  Niendorfer TSV in 2013. Hasmeian went to his old club Hamburger SV in 2017 to work in the Academy then became U17 Team assistant coach from 2017–2018 and finally with Hamburger SV (U21) in 2018 as an assistant coach before working with Wilmots.

It is clear from their experience that none of the Iranian coaches have the proper qualification and experience to be of value to the Team. The only advantage is communication which is itself a two-edged sword.