Tag: Kenya

How is Team Melli under Ghalenoei?

With one win and a draw already under his belt, Ardashir (Amir) Ghalenoei seems to have started well in his second term with Team Melli.  The nucleus of the previous team is still intact as Ghalenoei used most of the players who qualified Iran for the world cup under Dragan Skocic and then briefly in the World Cup finals, under Carlos Queiroz. However, the addition of several new players and the return of previous ones has given a slightly different shape to the same team.

Overall, Team Melli played delightful football in both matches, despite some shortfalls that need to be worked upon by the coaching team. The passing of the ball, finding spaces, defensive coverage, crosses from flanks, and counterattacks were all carried out to acceptable to good standards. The shortfalls were in the poor finishing, final ball delivery, mental agility, and the chronic shortfall of Iranian players, general slowness. While modern football demands quick and swift thinking by footballers, Iranian players seem to take extra seconds to make such moves.


The match against Kenya was particularly worrying in the sense that the Iranian players could not physically match the Kenyan team! The African players won most of the one-to-one tackles which mostly ended up with the Iranian hitting the lawn with both arms raised up in protests to no avail. Physical strength and body build have always been one of the better attributes of Iranian footballers throughout the years. It is important to keep that up, especially against stronger teams. It is also important by Ghalenoei to instill some discipline and discourage play-acting.

Although not much can be read from the two matches, and not much can be presumed from Ghaleoei’s public statements, it seems that a fresh mentality is going to dominate Team Melli’s playing style. Under eight years and something, Team Melli fans were exposed to the dour defensive-minded style of Carlos Queiroz. Ghaleoei has a different mindset and we do hope it is aimed toward more attractive football that appeals to the fan but of course, not to the detriment of results. Offensive footballs require such tools as gameplans with several options and competent skillful players to finish the moves. On the face of it, Team Melli has players up front that play in the highest standard leagues such as Azmoun, Taremi, and Sayyadmanish with the newer generation players such as  Amir Hossein HOSSEINZADEH and Arya BARZAGAR waiting for their chances.

These players have proved time and again their worth.  It is up to the Ghalenoei to utilize the skills of such talents. There is a small problem with finishing for Taremi, perhaps he is experiencing a down in his performance, but he and his teammates cannot be so wasteful and profligate as they have shown in these two matches.

There are no shortages of talent on the defensive line and the goalkeepers, so that is the least of the worries.

The biggest challenge for Ghalenoei remains the midfield. It is the line where the forwards must receive quality and timely service in order to finish the job. The present complexion of the midfield is not so hopeful. Unfortunately, Jahanbakhsh who mainly operates mainly as a winger has been facing form degradation recently with erratic performances. Ezzarollahi seems to have stagnated and his value remains on the defensive side, Ali Gholizadeh is one of the better players that Ghalneoi may focus on for the offensive side, Nourollahi is another player whose value varies between one match and another. Saman Ghoddos came with such promise, but he is yet to deliver consistently. Team Melli has no midfielder that can take the game by the scruff of the neck. There is no such player in the current generation of footballers, unfortunately.

So, the lack of creative, quality, and consistently good midfield players will remain Amir Ghalenoei’s biggest challenge.

One bright side of the two matches was the introduction of Sepahan’s midfielder Mohammas Karimi. Hardly a household name in Iran, the former U20 Team Melli player, performed very well in the first half and was one of the few good players while he was on the field. There seems to be a player that can serve Team Melli well if given the chance. In the contrast, his club teammate Moghanlou was utterly wasteful, out of place, and at times, lost in the lineup of Team Melli in both matches. No doubt he played and scored well with his club, but in the two matches at an international level, he remains way out of place.

First win for Team Melli and Ghalenoei

Team Melli defeated Kenya 2-1 in an international friendly in Azadi on Tuesday evening in front of approximately 25,000 fans with a large contingent of females in a special section of the aging stadium. The first goal of the match was scored by Michael Olunga in ( 51’), Iran equalized through Mohammad Mohebbi (76′), and the winner was scored by Ramin Rezaeian (84′)

This was the second match under the leadership of recently appointed coach Amir Ghalenoei who opted for a few changes from that match against Russia. In came Mohammad Karimi as a defensive midfielder and Armin Sohrabian in the defense line for their debut match for Team Melli. Alireza Jahanbakhsh made the starting line up too.

Rozbeh Cheshmi replaced Shojaa KhalilZadeh to partner Kananizadegan in the heart of the defense.



51st minute: Kenya started the scoring when Captain Michael Olunga cleverly disposed of Armin Sohrabian on the right flank and ran towards the goal with Kanaizadegan the only player between him and the Hosseini in goal. Olunga who plays his football with Al Duhail of Qatar cleverly shot past his marker and into the far corner of Hosseini to register a beautiful goal in the 51st minute.

76th minute: Iran’s equalizer came through an immaculate assist by Ramin Rezaeian, whose perfect free kick was met by Mohammad Mohebbi to head into the empty net with the Kenyan keeper stranded in the other corner.

84th minute: Iran’s winner came late in the match when Rezaeian worked himself nicely into the box and shot at an acute angle with Masani in Kenya’s goal helping the ball cross the line.



In the first half, Team Melli was far from the high standard of the last match against a much stronger team in Russia. The overconfidence, evidence in some showboating, the poor discipline, and alarming wastefulness in which the team played showed that Amir Ghalenoei has a lot on his hand to build a formidable team.

There were quite a few bad performances from the like of Taremi, Jahanbakhsh, and particularly Moghanlou. In the contrast, the debutant Mohammad Karimi was a breath of fresh air with his passing, tackling, and self-confidence.

In the second half, the goal scored by Kenya shocked Iran to the spine. Ghalenoei had to embark with a few substitutions which slowly but surely ensured that Team Melli comes out from this difficult match as the winner although it was a cesarean win.



Despite playing in the second half, Rezaeian made a lot of difference as he defended and attacked at well from the left flank. He assisted the first goal while scoring the second. He remains one of the few reliable and dependable players of the old team who will undoubtedly be an asset to Ghalenoei.


Mehdi Taremi is going through a rough time both at the club and country levels. It is probably the curse of the World Cup. His performance against Kenya was rusty, profligate, and uncertain. Jahabnbakjsh is also another player that is finding it hard to repeat his fine standards of a few years back. Although some excuse may be given for the fact that he is recovering from an illness. Every player selected for a national team is scrutinized analyzed and given thorough tests before selection. That is a forgone conclusion, however, the selection is Shahriyar Moghanlou is an enigma! Although his record with Sepahan is not that bad, in the two matches he played so far and was given a lot of minutes by Ghalenoei, this forward has shown nothing to suggest that he is even an average bench player for Team Melli let alone a starter. Could it be a psychological hurdle or something else? Whatever the case, his case needs to be seriously reconsidered with so many promising young players waiting in the wings for their chances.


Once again Team Melli players showed a certain lack of discipline and discipline that cost them a gaol and perhaps could have cost them the match. The constant falling to the ground for the slightest of contacts has become a trend in Iranian football. Sohrabian was guilty of losing his balance and then waving for a foul in the event that led to the Kenya goal. However, the culprit of the match was Mohammad Mohebbi who fell to the ground in at least 5 tackles, of which the referee only whistled for him once only. Although Taremi, is so famous for simulation in Portugal, in fairness did not resort to this in today’s match, this trend championed by Mehdi Taremi is highly criticized in Portuguese media. Unfortunately, it is quietly glorified by Iranian media labeling such antics as smart and wins penalties for his team.

Andranik Teymourian joins Team Melli coaching staff.

Amir Ghalnoei has recruited the former Team Melli captain,  Andranik Teymourian as an assistant coach joining the coaching staff today.

Teymourian was introduced to the players by the Ghalenoei before the training started today thus starting his coaching career in the national team.

Before this, Rahman Rezaei, one of the former players of the national team with the experience of playing in the World Cup and the AFC Asian Cup, was added to the staff of Amir Ghalenoui, but Rezaei, for reason not declared, did not turn up for the first training session and then subsequently turned down the job. Amir Ghalenoei went to Teymourian, who was one of his players in the national team of Iran and Esteghlal. Team Melli is currently in camp and preparing for two friendly matches with Russia and Kenya.

Azmoun withdraws from Team Melli camp.

Team Melli’s training camp the preparatory games against Russia (March 23) and Kenya (March 28) that started today was joined by several legionnaires but with a notable absentee.

Domestic league players, who have been invited to the national team camp, have introduced themselves to the technical staff this morning at the Olympic Hotel. Ahmed Noorolahi, Mohammad Hossein Kananizadegan, and Shoja Khalilzadeh, the three legionnaires playing in the UAE and Qatar have also been added to the national team camp. It is reported from the camp that Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun has requested the national team’s coaching staff to be excused from joining this camp. Apparently, Azmoun will not accompany the team in the upcoming games with Russia and Kenya due to family reasons and with the permission of the head coach.. Azmoun’s presence in the team camp was especially important for Russian media and experts because of his time with Rubin Kazan, Rostov, and Zenit for many years, and was considered one of the best foreign stars of the Russian league.

Hossein Hosseini, Hossein Pourhamidi, Alain Dinka (GK coach) , Alireza Bairanvand and Payam Niazman.

Today, the Football Federation also introduced the assistants of Amir Ghalenoei. According to this, Saeed Elhawi, Rahman Rezaei, Ali Asghar Ghorban Alipour, Alian Dinka (Goalkeeper Coach of Tractor ) and Ali Kamangari (Analyzer) are members of the national team’s technical staff. Due to the limited time between the end of the league games and the start of the camp, the first foreign assistant to the head coach of the national team will be introduced after this camp, and another Iranian coach will be added to the current staff.

Amir Ghalenoei announces his first squad

Amir Ghalenoei has picked up his first squad ahead of the two international friendlies against Russia and then Kenya both in Azadi Stadium, Tehran.

There were no major surprises as the bulk of the previous Team Melli squad was picked. Ghalenoei, however, did not call eight players from the previous squad of Carlos Queiroz. Karim Ansarifard, Saman Ghoddos, Ali Karimi, Milad Mohammadi, Abolfazl Jalali, Morteza Pouraliganji,  Amir Abedzadeh and Majid Hosseini. Apart from the latter who is injured, the rest have been suffering performance issues or warming their club’s benches.

One of the notable absentees is Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, of Hull City in the championship. Although he is back after a longish injury deprived him of playing, it seems that Sayyadmanesh still requires more time to fully recover.


Of the new players, many of them passed 25 years of age bracket, Hezbavi of Team Melli U19, is the most significant. Despite his good performance in Uzbekistan in the AFC U19  Asian Cup 2023, he was unable to lead the team to the finals, although his selection to Team Melli is a good consolation.


the squad

Position No. Player Club Age Caps
MF 1 Ahmad Nourollahi Shabab Al Ahli (UAE) 29 28
MF 2 Ali Gholizadeh Kasimspor (TUR) 26 29
MD 3 Alireza Jahanbakhsh Feyenoord (NED) 29 66
GK 4 Alireza Beiranvand Persepolis (IRA) 30 54
FW 5 Amirhossein Hosseinzadeh Charleroi (BEL) 22 3
DF 6 Aref Aghasi Foolad Khuzestan (IRN) 26 2
DF 7 Armin Sohrabian Gol Gohar Sirjan (IRN) 27 0
MF 8 Ehsan Hajsafi AEK Athens (GRE) 32 122
GK 9 Hossein Hosseini Esteghlal (IRA) 30 8
FW 10 Hossein Kanaani Al Ahli (QAT) 28 36
GK 11 Hossein Pourhamidi Aluminum( Arak (IRN) 24 0
DF 12 Mehdi Hosseini Mes Rafsanjan IRI) 29 0
FW 13 Mehdi Taremi Porto (POR) 30 63
MF 14 Mehdi Torabi Persepolis (IRA) 29 39
MF 15 Milad Sarlak Persepolis (IRA) 27 11
MF 16 Milad Zakipour Sepahan (IRA) 27 0
DF 17 Mohammad Amin Hizbavi Foolad Khuzestan (IRN) 19 0
FW 18 Mohammad Hossein Eslami Zob Ahan (IRI) 22 0
MF 19 Mohammad Karimi Sepahan (IRA) 26 0
MF 20 Mohammad Mohebi Esteghlal (IRA) 24 3
DF 21 Omid Noorafken Sepahan (IRA) 25 15
GK 22 Payam Niazmand Sepahan (IRA) 27 1
FW 23 Ramin Rezaeian Sepahan (IRA) 32 48
FW 24 Reza Asadi Tractor Tabriz (IRI) 27 0
FW 25 Reza Shekhari Gol Gohar Sirjan (IRI) 24 0
GK 26 Roozbeh Cheshmi Esteghlal (IRA) 30 21
DF 27 Sadegh Moharrami Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 26 21
MF 28 Saeid Ezatolahi Vejle (DEN) 26 50
FW 29 Sardar Azmoun Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 27 68
FW 30 Shahriar Mughanloo Sepahan (IRA) 28 0
DF 31 Shoja Khalilzadeh Al Ahli (QAT) 33 25
MF 32 Vahid Amiri Persepolis (IRA) 34 68

Kenya, to meet Team Melli in Azadi.

According to a news report, the Kenyan Football Federation officially announced that the national team of Kenya will face Iran on March 28th  in an international friendly match at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.

Before this, Iran’s national team has a match arranged against Russia on March 23rd at Azadi Stadium. Amir Ghalenoei will lead Team Melli for the first time since his recent appointment as Head Coach.

Kenya’s national team, Harambee Stars, will flex muscles with Iran in an international friendly on March 28, Football Kenya Federation chief executive officer, Barry Otieno has confirmed. Stars will travel to Tehran for the match as they make their comeback to the international stage after being banned by the world football governing body, Fifa, in February of last year.

Otieno has urged Kenyans to rejoice over the national team’s return after a year away, adding that the friendly will be the ideal chance for them to freshen up after getting rusty from inactivity. “On March 28, the Harambee Stars return to the pitch for the first time in over a year. This is a big moment for Kenya. I expect a great match and urge all Kenyans to rally behind the team so that we can move forward together,” Otieno remarked.

The FKF boss said they would deploy every resource at their disposal to help Kenya qualify for the next Africa Cup of Nations.

National team head coach Engin Firat welcomed the fixture, saying Iran will provide a good test for Kenya. “Iran is a World Cup nation and is ranked 24th in the world. Playing them in our first match back after suspension will help us assess where we are which is the first step in rebuilding the team and working our way to a high level of competitiveness,” Firat said.

“It is important to keep the team engaged and to keep working so that we can play at a good level when we return.” The Turkish gaffer revealed he will name the provisional squad on Thursday morning, before the start of a residential training camp on March 19.

Engin Firat, has previous coaching experience in Iran’s Saipa and Sepahan clubs. Firat was also the assistant of Ali Daei on the Iranian national team at one point in time.

Iran and Kenya have met twice with both matches played in Iran with Iran also winning them both.





FIFA Ranking:

Iran – 24th  [1551 pts]
Kenya -101 [1202 pts]

Date Comp. H / A / N Final score Stadium Attendance
14.03.2009 Friendly H 1 – 0 Azadi Stadium, Tehran 6500
21.04.1997 Friendly / Friendly H 3 – 0 Tabriz 42000

Iran invites Kenya for a friendly match.


Goal can reveal that Iranian FA have officially invited Kenya for a friendly match in June and that FKF are considering sending Under-23 team

Harambee Stars have been invited to play Iran in an international friendly match in June, Goal can reveal.

Iranian Football Association have officially sent a formal request to Football Kenya Federation requesting for the match. According to information from Iran, they want the match to be played any date from June 8-11 in Tehran.

Iran have agreed to pay for accommodation and flight costs of Harambee Stars during the match. However, it is doubtful whether the senior Harambee Stars can honor the friendly match considering that they will be involved in qualifiers for 2017 Africa Cup of Nations which kick-off almost at the same time.

A source in FKF told Goal that they are negotiating to see whether they can send U-23 side or postpone the match to another date. “This is a good gesture from our Iranian counterparts but we have to look at many issues before we commit ourselves to the match. Alternatively, we can send the U-23 team.”

Friendly game against Kenya is off

Team Melli is preparing for the second training camp in its program for the AFC Asian Cup 2015. The camp is scheduled to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As part of the program, a friendly international match was supposed to be played with an African team. The FFIRI negotiated with several teams and eventually picked Kenya as an opposition for the friendly which was supposed to be played in South Africa. The East African team demanded US$ 50,000 to cover the cost of logistics and accommodation, which FFIRI turned down as too expensive! The match is therefore canceled while FFIRI is actively looking for a cheaper team to play against!

Team Melli is scheduled to play against South Korea on the 18th November in Azadi Stadium. It seems that this is the only confirmed match that Team Melli will play until the start of the AFC Asian Cup 2015