Tag: Khalifa International Stadium

Team Melli sweats it to narrowly defeat Hong Kong!

Team Melli beat Hong Kong 1-0 in its second match of Group C of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

The only goal of the match was scored by Mehdi Ghayedi in the 24th minute. With this win, Iran has 6 points and is leading the group ahead of UAE with 4 points. The group decider will be against the UAE where Team Mlli needs one point to maintain the top position in the group while the UAE has to win to lead Group C.

In one of the worst performances by Team Melli in recent times, the Ghalenoei team was weak in every aspect of the professional game. Be it the passing, mental agility, tactical discipline, tackling, man marking and agility.

Since Ghalenoei is the responsible person for selecting the players to start the match and for the game plan, it was a bad mark for the Head Coach who has yet to taste defeat since he took over more than a year ago. These days have an eerily remanence of his last time at the helm of Team Melli in 2006 to 2007 ., where the team was performing near perfection until he fell in the last hurdle against South Korea in the Penalty kicks at the quarter-final of the Asian Cup 2007. Most of the criticism back then was targeted at Ghalenoei as he was accused of failing to instill discipline in his team with players acting up in the penalty kicks amongst other shortfalls in the Asian Cup 2007.

In this match, the fans were expecting a bonanza of goals, or at least as many as the team scored against Palestine last time out. But instead, and from kick-off, it seemed that the engines of Team Melli lacked oiling, perhaps needing a major overhaul.

One positive aspect of Ghalenoei’s selection is the replacement of Ezatollahi with the much more versatile Cheshmi, despite a few initial errors at the beginning of the game by the Esteghlal holding midfielder. But most of the problems were in Saman Ghoddos who was the MVP of the last game, but in this one, he decided to have a day off! His passing, vision, and dynamism were truly lacking. There was no help from Jahanbakhsh either, Ghaedi was perhaps the only bright star of the whole team and his goal was a testament to his enterprise and energy.

Mehdi Taremi has not done anything to mitigate the fears of the fans who believe that he is not a man for big occasions. Taremi, regrettably, is looking like an amateur league player in Team Melli Jersey. He has yet to score or provide an assist in the last two matches. He seemed to be unaware of Shahriyar Moghanlou’s existence in the same team or maybe they were not on speaking terms. There was little passing and understanding between the two forwards. That in itself brings on the question of why Moghanlou if Azmoun is fit and ready.? Nothing of worth came from Jahanbakhsh either.

If that was bad, the worst line of the team was undoubtedly the defense line. How lucky Team Melli was in facing a team that could not shoot straight in Hong Kong? From the shakey Beiranvand to the clumsy Kanani, and wayward Mohammadi, to the disorganization and lack of understanding between the players in a systematic defense, all those were a recipe for disaster. Hong Kong, despite the gallant attempts, just lacked the quality to take advantage of all the gifts awarded to them by the benevolent Team Melli defense.

Iran’s defense is truly on shaky ground. They were supposed to have an easy day out supplementing the offensive line, but the reality is that they were quite lucky not to concede goals. That might not be the case next time or in the knockout stages where it is quite likely that defensive blunders will cost Team Melli dearly.

Ghalneoei himself did not fare well either. He was visibly angry on the bench and at times covering his face in embarrassment. If we have to go by the cliche about ‘Second Halves’ being the coach’s half, then the Norwegian Jorn Andersen beat Ghalenoei hands down. He skillfully reorganized his team in the second half, found the weakness of the Iran team, and tightened his central defense while exerting pressure on the flanks to prevent danger from Iranian wingers and half-backs., The only thing that he fell short of, as mentioned before, was the lack of finishers in his team in front of the Iran goal.

Hong Kong has to be credited for this performance.

2023 AFC Asian Cup to kick off in January 2024!

DOHA, March 1 ) —  AFC Asian Cup  2023 the 18th edition of the continent’s premier tournament will be held from January 12th to February 10th, 2024 in Qatar, the Qatar Football Association (QFA) announced on Tuesday. Qatar is the defending champion.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be held in China from 16 June to 16 July 2023. On 14 May 2022, the AFC announced that China would not host the tournament due to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s Zero-COVID policy.

The QFA also announced the establishment of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the AFC Asian Cup, and its president Ahmed Al-Thani was named as the chairman of the LOC.

In October 2022, Qatar was awarded by AFC to host the tournament, which has 24 participating teams.

The draw for the group stages will be announced by AFC based on the seeding of the teams according to the FIFA Ranking of December 2022. However, this seeding might change as the tournament comes closer. Two top teams of each group will qualify for the knock-out stages plus four best third-place teams from the six groups.

From the December 2022 FIFA World Rankings
Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
 Qatar (60) (hosts)
 Japan (20)
 Iran (24)
Korea Rep. (25)
 Australia (27)
 Saudi Arabia (49)
 Iraq (68)
 UAE (70)
 Oman (75)
 China (80)
 Syria (90)
 Vietnam (96)
 Lebanon (100)
 Uzbekistan (77)
 Jordan (84)
 Bahrain (85)
 Palestine (93)
 Kyrgyzstan (94)
 India (106)
 Tajikistan (108)
 Thailand (111)
 Malaysia (145)
 Hong Kong (146)
 Indonesia (151)



Five host cities were submitted in the 2023 bid, including seven stadiums prepared for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Lusail Stadium was proposed to host the final and a semi-final, with the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor to host the other semi-final. However, the official stadiums for the tournament have not been announced yet.


City/Area Stadium Capacity
Lusail Lusail Stadium 88,966
Al Khor Al Bayt Stadium 68,895
Al Rayyan Khalifa International Stadium 45,857
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium 45,032
Education City Stadium 44,667
Doha Al Thumama Stadium 44,400
Qatar University Stadium 20,600
Al Wakrah Al Janoub Stadium 44,325

A humulation for Team Melli

Team Melli suffered it heaviest defeat in World Cup history after a 6-2 drubbing by title contenders England.

Jude Bellingham started the rout in the 35th minute, Arsenal star Bokayo Saka made it 2-0 on the 43rd, and Raheem Sterling scored the third in the 45th First half ended 3-0

In the second, Bokayo Saka was on the scoresheet again on the 62nd  to make it 4-0 before Mehdi Tarremi scored from a tremendous shot on the 65th. Substitute Marcus Rashford scored 49 seconds after he was on the field on 71st,  Jack Grealish (90) ended the scoring for England 6-1. Sardar Azmoun who was substituted managed to run past his English marker to face Jordan Pickford on one to one situation. The Everton and England keeper managed to save Azmoun’s shoot. and finally, the VAR review awarded a penalty for Iran where Taremi slotted nicely for his second goal of the evening. The match ended 6-2 for England.

The 45,000 fans in the 60,000-seat Khalifa Stadium in Doha, witnessed a superior display by Southgate players while Iran under Queiroz not only suffered its heaviest defeat but displayed poor control, lack of stamina, bad passing, and total collapse of the defensive strategy that Queiroz prides himself in.

Earlier in the half, a collision between Alireza Beiranvand and Majid Hosseini result in a bad injury to the Iranian goalkeeper. This resulted in a 14 minutes pause while Beiranvand was being treated . Finally, when Beiranvand treatment was over, and while still clearly dazed, he opted to continue playing without any objection from the medical team or the coaching staff, who must have feared losing their number one goalkeeper in detriment to his health. Alireza vividly in a concussion status could not stay focused for longer than a few minutes after the match restarted before he collapsed to the ground. A stretcher took him out while Hossein Hosseini replaced him.

This embarrassing, yet unexpected result was a culmination of many failures and shortfalls in the team. It started with the selection of a coach whose archaic strategy and game plans have proven to be a failure not just in Iran but Colombia and Egypt before it. In fairness, Queiroz was not given proper time for preparation for the greatest of championships like the World Cup, yet for whatever reason, he accepted the job offer despite its risk thinking he knows enough about the team he left three years ago. And the result was a disaster against a quality team in England. The old age team was clearly suffering in physical attributes against the much younger English team, Little preparation compared to other World Cup teams was also in evidence in the misplaced passes. Lack of confidence, concentration, and political turmoil back home were also factors in this heavy defeat.

Iran Line UP

Alireza Biranvand (19′ Seyed Hossein Hosseini), Sadegh Mohrrami, Majid Hosseini, Rozbe Cheshmi (46′ Mohammad Hossein Kanaani Zadegan), Morteza Pouraliganji, Majid Hosseini, Ehsan Haji Safi, Milad Mohammadi (63′ Mehdi Tarabi) ), Ahmad Nooralhi (77′ Sardar Azmoun), Ali Karimi (46′ Saeed Ezzatollahi), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (46′ Ali Gholizadeh) and Mehdi Taremi.

old agers

ENGLAND v IRAN : Match review

England v Iran
FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022
Group B Qualifier

16:30 Iran Time
13:00 GMT, Monday 21 November 2022
Khalifa International Stadium – Dolha

Team Melli begins the 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign against the Three Lions in what will be the first-ever meeting between the nations at the senior level.
Iran, was drawn out against Gareth Southgate’s England, USA and Wales at the draw in Doha on 1 April.

  • ● This will be the first-ever encounter between England and Iran. Team Melli has never beaten European opposition at the FIFA World Cup (D2 L6).
  • This is the third time in a row that Carlos Queiroz has coached Iran in the World Cup.
  • Iran has qualified for the third World Cup in a row since WC2014. A first in the Team’s history
  • ● England have qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the 16th time. It’s their seventh appearance in a row, their longest streak in the competition.
  • ● England set the best goal difference in the group stage of European qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, scoring 39 goals and conceding only three (+36).
  • ● England are the only European team to have reached the semi-finals in each of the last two major tournaments (FIFA World Cup + EURO).
  • ● 12 of England’s last 18 goals at the FIFA World Cup have been scored from set-pieces. In fact, 75% of their goals in 2018 came from dead ball situations (9 out of 12).
  • ● Iran have never progressed past the first round of the FIFA World Cup, winning only two of their 15 matches (v USA in 1998 and Morocco in 2018). This is their sixth participation in the tournament, including their third in a row.
  • ● Iran have scored nine goals in 15 FIFA World Cup matches; at 0.6, it’s the lowest goals-per-game ratio of any nation to play more than 10 games in the competition. They’ve only netted more than once in one of their 15 games, a 2-1 win over the USA in 1998.
  • ● Gareth Southgate has guided England to the last four in each of his two tournaments as national team head-coach. Only Sir Alf Ramsey can boast a similar record as England boss (WC winners in 1966, Euro semi-finalists in 1968).
  • ● England striker Harry Kane was the top scorer in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with five of his six goals coming in the group stages. No player has ever been top/joint-top scorer at two different World Cup tournaments.
  • ● Despite only playing six times, no Iran player was involved in more goals during the third round of Asian World Cup qualifying than Mehdi Taremi (4 goals, 2 assists).

Coach: Carlos Quieroz
Qualified from: First in AFC qualifying group
Qualifying top scorer: Mehdi Taremi (Porto)
FIFA World Cup best performance: group stage (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018)

Form guide

After consecutive defeats to group rivals Bahrain and Iraq respectively in late 2019, Iran looked like they wouldn’t even make it through to the last round of Asian qualifying, let alone reach a third straight World Cup finals. Then COVID-19 hit, and Iran were able to push the reset button. Coach Marc Wilmots was replaced, Iran won their four remaining second-round games – all played in neutral Bahrain because of the pandemic – and never looked back. They won eight out of ten games in round three to qualify alongside fellow AFC big hitters South Korea.


Off the back of seven years coaching in Iran’s domestic leagues, Dragan Skocic was seen as a safe pair of hands when he took over from Wilmots in February 2020. Although Iran’s demanding fans would prefer their team to play on the front foot, defence was the bedrock of their success under the Croat, with just five goals conceded in 14 qualifiers. Skocic – who had experimented with a variety of attacking shapes in front of his favoured back four – was dismissed as head coach in July, only to be immediately reinstated. But his stay of execution didn’t last long and, in early September, the new president of the Iranian Football Federation, Mehdi Taj, replaced Skocic with Carlos Queiroz, the former Manchester United assistant and Real Madrid coach who led Iran at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

World Cup pedigree

Despite qualifying for the finals six times, including four of the last six, Iran have never progressed beyond the group stage, although they did come close in 2018, beating Morocco and drawing with Portugal in a tough group also containing Spain.

Stars on show

In front of a compact defense and industrious midfield, Iran relies heavily on the mercurial attacking talents of Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun – who have been prolific goalscorers for Porto and Bayer Leverkusen respectively, and the creativity of Feyenoord’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who Premier League fans might remember from his three seasons with Brighton & Hove Albion. During the qualifiers, the central back duo Shojaá Khalilzadeh and Hossein Kananizadegan created a formidable defense in front of the goal.


Iran: Top star Sardar Azmoun is doubtful for the England game. It is not clear if he has trained since arriving in Doha to join the Team Melli squad. There are no more injuries reported amongst the players since the match against Tunisia was played behind closed doors, and little if any information is available.

England: Kyle Walker is traveling with the English team while not fully fit. It is almost certain that he will miss the first match against Iran. James Maddison is also a doubt as he missed training today in favor of some light work in the gym.



Iraq, Iran set for titanic clash


Doha: Iraq and Iran are looking to continue their unbeaten start to the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar Group A when they lock horns in Doha on Tuesday.

On head coach Dick Advocaat’s competitive debut at the helm, Iraq held Korea Republic to a goalless draw in Seoul with the Dutchman content with ceding possession and looking to hit on the counter.

Meanwhile, their neighbors Iran produced the only win of the group on the opening day when captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s deflected shot settled in the Syrians’ net, with Team Melli going into Matchday Two leading Group A with three points, two ahead of the four sides that drew in the previous round of matches.

The two teams have a lot of history between them, that being most recently the doubleheader in the previous round of the Asian Qualifiers: The Lions of Mesopotamia recorded a 2-1 home win, with the return leg settled by Sardar Azmoun at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

Azmoun will be welcomed back into the fold, having missed out on his side’s opening match through suspension, while head coach Dragan Skočić continues his recovery from COVID-19, having left assistant Marijo Tot to lead the team in the previous game.

“We saw how Japan was defeated at home by Oman and Korea Republic and Iraq drew in Seoul,” said Tot.

“This shows that the teams are close and winning requires hard work. All of our players did well against Syria, and I would also like to thank all our technical and support staff at the national team.”

Iraq’s Advocaat vowed to take a different approach against Iran, after being content with defending for large swathes of their previous game and only bringing on offensive support in the form of Justin Meram and Mohanad Ali later in the game.

“We played really well defensively in the last game,” said Advocaat

“We will play a lot more offensively in the next game, which will be an extremely important one for us. We only started preparing for the games two weeks ago and half of our squad consists of new players.”

Tuesday’s fixture will be the sixth between the two sides in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, with Iran having won three to Iraq’s two.

It will also be the second time they face off in Doha in the Qualifiers, with the late Ahmed Radhi and Alaa Kadhim having led Iraq to a 2-1 win in the Road to USA 1994.

Iraq v Iran
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium (Doha)
Kickoff: Tuesday, 21:00 (UTC+3)

02. Sep.21 : Iran 1 – 0  Syria 02.Sep.21 : Korea R. 0 – 0 Iraq
15. Jun.21 : Iran 1 – 0  Iraq 15. Jun.21 : Iran 1 – 0  Iraq
11. Jun.21 : Cambodia 10 – 0  Iran 11. Jun.21 : Hong Kong 0 – 1  Iraq
07. Jun.21 : Iran 3 – 0  Bahrain 07. Jun.21 : Iraq 4 – 1  Cambodia
03. Jun.21 : Iran 3 – 1  Hong Kong 24.May.21 : Iraq 0 0 Tajikistan
09/02 • Home
Syrian Arab Republic
06/15 • Home
06/11 • Away
06/07 • Home
06/03 • Home
Hong Kong, China
09/02 • Away
Republic Of Korea
06/15 • Away
06/11 • Away
Hong Kong, China
06/07 • Home
05/24 • Home

2022 World Cup in Qatar to remain as a 32-team tournament, Fifa announces

Efforts by the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams, which he said could help heal hostilities in the Middle East, have concluded in failure, with the tournament remaining solely in Qatar, with 32 competing national teams.

The expansion plan was based on sharing matches with neighbouring countries in the gulf, where Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar in June 2017 and blockaded its land borders. Infantino argued that sharing some World Cup matches could “build bridges” between the countries because “football makes miracles”, and a feasibility study was conducted into expansion – but the miracle has not come to pass.

In a statement issued a fortnight before the decision was due to be taken at Fifa’s congress, on 5 June, it said: “Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.”

An internal report at Fifa is reported to have concluded that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain could not host matches while the blockade was still in force, even if they wanted to share the tournament with Qatar. The human-rights implications of involving Saudi Arabia have also escalated enormously since the murder at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Oman, which is not part of the blockade, was reported to have declined the opportunity to host matches, and although Infantino visited Kuwait last month to explore its possibilities, Fifa decided it did not have enough time to upgrade its facilities.

Qatar has been spending billions of dollars since it won the shock vote in 2010, substantially expanding its Khalifa International Stadium and building seven new, state-of-the-art arenas, with a further $200m being spent on a new metro system, roads and other infrastructure.

Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar’s supreme committee for delivery and legacy, told the Guardian in November that it was cooperating with the feasibility study, but continuing its preparations for a 32-team tournament, solely in Qatar .

Fifa said it had explored the feasibility of Qatar itself hosting a 48-team tournament but concluded that could not be done in time. “The Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 will therefore remain as originally planned with 32 teams, and no proposal will be submitted at the next Fifa congress on 5 June,” the statement said.