Tag: Korea Rep.

Super Jordan stun Korea Republic to reach historic final

Al Rayyan

Goals from Yazan Al Naimat and Mousa Al Tamari secured Jordan a sensational 2-0 win over Korea Republic as the West Asian side advanced to the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ final at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday.

A dominant performance from start to finish saw Jordan upstage a Korea Republic side who simply couldn’t match the pace and determination of their opponents, who booked a spot in the AFC Asian Cup final for the first time in history.

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Jordan didn’t waste time in taking the game to Korea Republic, with their fast start almost catching the East Asian side by surprise, Al Naimat’s low strike in the fourth minute from just inside the area forcing goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo into a diving save.

The West Asian side looked dangerous every time they transitioned into attack with Al Tamari waltzing his way past three defenders before setting up Noor Al Rawabdeh, who brought the best out of Jo.

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Korea Republic slowly grew into the match, with Son Heung-min’s effort in the 19th minute ruled out for offside while Lee Kang-in failed to find the target from inside the box in the 24th minute.

Jordan, however, looked menacing each time they ventured forward but wasted a flurry of chances, with Al Naimat missing from inside the area before pulling his effort just wide in the 27th minute, while Al Tamari blazed his shot over the bar from just above the box.

At the other end, Korea Republic had a penalty overruled following a VAR review in the 30th minute before Lee Jae-Sung hit the upright from Hwang In-beom’s cross.

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A mazy Al Naimat run in the 43rd minute saw him waltzing past three defenders into the six-yard-box before unleashing a powerful drive straight into Jo, with the rebound falling nicely for Al Rawabdeh but his effort struck the Korea Republic custodian before going out of play. 

Despite having mostly played second fiddle, Korea Republic should have taken the lead into the break but Seol Young-woo’s cross from the flank was sent skywards by Hwang. 

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Jordan’s pace at the start of the second half was not as intense but they continued to dictate terms, with Korea Republic struggling to keep the ball.

The West Asian side’s positive play finally delivered dividends in the 53rd minute when Al Tamari pounced on a poor back pass from Jung Seung-Hyunto to send a well-timed pass to Al Naimat, who lobbed the ball over the advancing Jo for the opening goal.

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Having fallen behind for the fifth time in six matches, Korea Republic sent on Cho Gue-sung to add more depth to their attacks but the No 9 failed to find the target at the hour mark when he sent his headed attempt off Kang-in’s corner over the bar.

That was to prove costly as Jordan struck again six minutes later, Al Tamari brilliantly cutting inside from just above the area before unleashing a low drive past a despairing Cho.

Korea Republic’s attempts to find a way back were easily repelled from there on as Jordan held on for a well deserved place in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 final. 

Who will lift the AFC Asian Cup 2023?

Predicting the team that will lift the AFC Asian Cup is not something that has any value at this stage as football, time and again, has proven to be a strange game, full of surprises, and winning a title in the most prestigious tournament can have twists and turns that not even the best analyst can predict.

However, what can be said makes sense is the ranking and performance of the teams beforehand and the expected results based on the earlier performance.

Japan: Without a shadow of a doubt, Japan sits right at the top of the ranking and their chances of lifting the trophy for the fourth time are quite high. Not only did the Japanese perform well at the Asian level, they even managed to beat the best of Europe in their own home. A 4-1 result against Germany will stand as a monument of the might of the Japanese and the resilience, power, and strength of depth of this team. Japan also put 4 past Turkey and Canada also beat Tunisia 2-0. Before that Japan toyed with El Salvador beating them 6-0 and five days later Japan gave Peru a lesson in football with a 4-1 win just before humiliating Germany 4-1.

It does not take much expertise to predict that Japan is the team to beat. that is easier said than done.


Coach: Hajime Moriyasu (from 2018-)

Injured or Suspect Players: Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal) – Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)


Odds: 1 : 3.2


South Korea has a star-studded squad, and by the virtue of having perhaps the best Asian footballer in Son Heung-Min, the chances of this team are only second to Japan. Despite their results not matching the greatness of Japan, they are still a powerful team with a great military-like discipline that has a lot to say in Qatar. They have demonstrated their strength against Iran and can surprise any of the teams. The recent appointment of the German Jurgen Klinsmann and and former hero Ch Du-ri as an assistant and perhaps an interpreter as Cha is fluent in German, shows that the Korean FA are determined to seriously challenge for the title that eluded them since 1956. A strong team with many stars playing in Europe the Koreans are confident that this might be their year.


Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann (from 2023)

Injured or Suspect Players: NONE


3/10/23FRIKorea Republic4 – 0Tunisia
17/10/23FRIKorea Republic6 – 0Vietnam
16/11/23AWCKorea Republic5 – 0Singapore
21/11/23AWCChina PR0 – 3Korea Republic
06/01/24FRIIraq0 – 1Korea Republic

Odds: 1 : 5.5


Iran, under Amir Ghalenoei, has proven to be one of the strongest in Asia and a difficult team to beat. Despite a few problems and shortfalls the team has enough talent to seriously challenge the likes of Japan and South Korea. In Azmoun and Taremi, Iran has a prolific duo up front not matched by any other Asian team. A near-half-century wait to lift the Asian Cup will give the Persians the greatest motive in making this tournament one to remember for the Iranian Fans.


Coach: Amir Ghalenoei (from 2022)

Injured or Suspect Players: Ramin Rezaeian (under treatment)


17/10/23FRIQatar0 – 4IR Iran
16/11/23AWCIR Iran4 – 0Hong Kong, China
21/11/23AWCUzbekistan2 – 2IR Iran
05/01/24FRIIR Iran2 – 1Burkina Faso
09/01/24FRIIndonesia0 – 5IR Iran

Odds: 1:8


Australia, a powerhouse in Asian football a team that has already lifted the title once at home in 2015. The Socceroos is still a force to be reckoned with in this year’s edition. The Socceroos are a mix of experienced and young players with 19 of the 26 currently plying trade in European leagues while only four are playing in the domestic A-League. The remaining three play in Japan and Saudi Arabia.


Coach: Graham Arnold (from 2018)

Injured or Suspect Players: None


13/10/23FRIEngland1 – 0Australia
17/10/23FRIAustralia2 – 0New Zealand
16/11/23AWCAustralia7 – 0Bangladesh
21/11/23AWCPalestine0 – 1Australia
06/01/24FRIBahrain0 – 2Australia

Odds: 1:6.5


Saudi Arabia: Conquerors of Argentina in the group stage at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Saudi Arabia are is on nearly equal terms in challenging for the trophy with Iran and Australia.

The Saudi Pro League underwent a huge transformation in 2023 with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane, and Neymar headlining an importation of talent that lifted the competition to a new level. That uplift will, in turn, have had a trickle-down effect on the Saudi players already plying their trade in the league. The recruitment of the most expensive coach in the tournament shows how the Saudi Government is determined to win this Asian Cup. Surprisingly, the last two friendly matches against Hong Kong and Palestine, both Team Mellio opponents at the group stages, were less than convincing.


Coach: Roberto Mancini (from 2023)

Injured or Suspect Players: None


16/11/23AWCSaudi Arabia4 – 0Pakistan
21/11/23AWCJordan0 – 2Saudi Arabia
04/01/24FRISaudi Arabia1 – 0Lebanon
09/01/24FRISaudi Arabia0 – 0Palestine
10/01/24FRISaudi Arabia2 – 0Hong Kong

Odds: 1:8


Uzbekistan intends to gate-crash the party. The Central Asian teams have seen a big stride in football from youth to senior level. In this third stint at the helm of an Asian nation, Katanec will be — at the very least — looking to achieve with Uzbekistan what he managed with Iraq at the 2019 Asian Cup, when he led his former side to the round of 16 before they were beaten by eventual champions Qatar. The team has many young players augmenting the experiences of the likes of Eldor Shomurodov a player who has been the best in Uzbekistan football in the last few years.

Qatar: The Defending Champions and Host is considered an outsider. The Team has suffered under the Carlos Queiroz regime. The Qatari selectors failed in their due diligence in picking Queiroz who is a devotee of defensive football while the Qatari Team has always thrived in their attacking mentality. That marriage did not last long and now Qatar under a new head coach Tintin Márquez has a mountain to climb. An experienced Spaniard drafted in from Qatar Stars League side Al Wakrah, Márquez was appointed less than a month out from the Asian Cup after the Qatar FA sacked former Real Madrid boss Carlos Queiroz.

Iran U17 aiming for a place in the quarter-finals.

After defeating Afghanistan 6-1 in AFC U17 Asian Cup 2023 currently held in Thailand, Team Melli U17 will face Qatar today to book a place in the quarter-finals of the competition. The serious rival of the group, South Korea, defeated Qatar with the same margin, 6-1 and is playing Afghanistan in the second round.

Afghanistan proved no match for the young Persians coached by Hossein Abdi as H. Nafari 28′, E. Gholizadeh 32′ and 51′, K. Taheri 48′ and 49′, and R. Ghandipour 89′ scored for Iran. Afghanistan scored its only goal from an Hakim Khan Niazi 36′ strike.

Lineup vs Afghanistan:
[1] Arsha Shakouri: [2] Nima Andarz, [3] Husam Nafari ,[5] Erfan Darvish Aali, [23] Abolfazl Zoleikhaei (17 R. Ghandipour 60‎’), ‎[7]Esmaeil Gholizadeh, [14] Z. Saadavi (16 Abolfazl Zamani 46‎’), [8] Amir Mohammad Razzaghinia, [9] Yaghoub Barajeh (A. Homaeifard 60‎’)
[10] Kasra Taheri (11 A. Sharifi 77‎’), [15] M. Askari (18 Mahan Sadeghi 70‎’)

Why does Carlos Queiroz not resign after failrues?

Republic of Korea’s Portuguese head coach resigned his post after the defeat against Brazil and the elimination from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in the round of 16.

It is not the first resignation of a kind for coaches present at the most important football event in the world. Before him, the head coaches of teams like Mexico, Uruguay, etc. also resigned after being eliminated from the tournament. The World Cup domain is an exceptional opportunity for coaches who have been able to develop as head coaches in this important international field.

There are many renowned coaches in the world who have never experienced the competition and the atmosphere of the  FIFA World Cup as the head coach of a national team. So, if a coach shows up at this sporting event, he likes to be seen. There is a lot of exposure and perks in taking part in the IFA World Cup.

However, the same coaches who have been in important football events for many years, when they experience defeat or failure in the world’s most prominent football arena, inevitably, have no choice but to step down and resign with courage and honor. Maybe resigning from a national team is not digestible for any of the famous coaches, but they have accepted that they no longer have room to stay. The Portuguese head coach of South Korea has been one of the brave coaches in this FIFA World Cup. After South Korea lost to Brazil in the knockout stage, he said he was going to leave. Portuguese Paulo Bento has been working as the head coach of the South Korean national team since 2018. Carlos Queiroz’s Compatriot resigned in order to maintain his dignity and respect in the eyes of Korean football players and fans. Because he knows that staying in South Korea after being eliminated from the Qatar World Cup will not bring him any benefits. After all, he failed to achieve anything of significance in the Korean star-studded team that has many famous players such as Son Heung Min.

But why doesn’t Carlos Queiroz follow suit and resign? His record is by far worst than Bento’s.

Doesn’t he realize that after experiencing three World Cups with Team Melli, he has failed to reach the next round, and doesn’t he comprehend that he can no longer be productive for Iranian football?

Paulo Bento knows that if he was supposed to accomplish special goals, he must have achieved them in these few days in the World Cup.

Queiroz has worked hard for Team Melli and there should be no doubt about it. We must realize that his strict disciplinarian approach and no-nonsense manner of players were a breath of fresh air in Iranian football. It was needed to put many players in their place. After all, he was supposed to be a prodigy of that famous strict Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson. His disciplinary style is now synonymous with his name in Iran.  The bucks stop there. His achievements in major tournaments for Iran are a big fat zero. To maintain dignity and respect, he should have resigned after the loss against the USA, in addition, it would have been quite prudent of him to apologize to the Iranian people for the failure to achieve expectations, just like his fellow compatriot Bento. However, Queiroz is not the type, and this in particular summarizes his character. A person who does not realize his shortfalls, never admits that he has failed and hence will never work to rectify and change. In management, that is the biggest drawback.

Carlos Queiroz’s failure in his plans and strategies, selection of old players who mostly warm the benches in Europe, insistence on piling up the defenses that crashed in the first match against England, his focus on short-term objectives, deficiency in forward planning, dearth of opportunities for promising young players, preference on players’ loyalty rather than suitability and many more other factors, has deemed this Portugues man as nothing more than a financial burden off the field and a failure on it.

Of course, there are others who blame a few players in Team Melli and Mehdi Taj for the untimely appointment of Carlos Queiroz. That school of that has its merits too as failure is the culmination of many facts, not just one.  However, this subject needs its own discussion and analysis.

China withdrawal from hosting Asian Cup 2023 may see it back in the west Asian region.

China’s withdrawal from hosting the 2023 Asian Cup could see the showpiece shift west to the Gulf, where new infrastructure and voracious demand for major events have made the region a magnet for international tournaments.

Having planned to hold the Asian Cup across 10 cities in June-July next year, China dropped the 24-team tournament due to “exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic”, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said over the weekend.

The AFC said it would name a new host in due course but provided no detail and declined to provide immediate comment to Reuters.

AFC member nations were in the dark on Monday about the next steps.

“This is quite an unusual situation and so there’s no specific process that we are aware of on how things could go,” a spokesperson for the Korean Football Association (KFA) told Reuters.

“We just know that China has given up.”

The AFC has little time to appraise candidates and may not have a diverse set to choose from.

Governing body Football Australia declined to comment on whether it would put up its hand to replace China but referred to its busy calendar in 2023 as co-hosts of the Women’s World Cup with New Zealand, which starts on July 20.

All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das said India, which held the 2022 women’s Asian Cup this year, was focusing on its bid for the 2027 men’s tournament and had not expressed interest in stepping in for 2023.

South Korea, which originally lost out on its 2023 bid to China, had no comment on hosting but said it would require further consultation with home authorities.

“Basically, to host an international game …. firstly there should be talks with the government and the local authorities, but we haven’t heard or held any discussions on that yet,” the KFA spokesperson said.

Apart from India, reigning Asian Cup champions Qatar, Iran, and Saudi Arabia have all expressed an interest or submitted bids for 2027.

Qatar hosts the 2022 World Cup from Nov. 21 at a raft of purpose-built stadiums and may be best placed to slot in for the Asian Cup.

The 1988 and 2011 Asian Cup hosts, Qatar’s ambitions of becoming a global sporting hub have been backed by its ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and underpinned by its gas wealth.

It may come too soon for Saudi Arabia, which has made an aggressive entry into the international sports hosting market in recent years. The Saudi bid for 2027 included the building of three new stadiums and the expansion of three existing venues.

The region’s searing summers would mean both Qatar and Saudi Arabia would need to ask the AFC to move the tournament to cooler months later in the year or in early-2024.

Should few clear alternatives emerge, the AFC would likely prove accommodating to such a request, sending the tournament back to the Gulf four years after the 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates.

Korea Rep v Iran post match analysis.

It had to happen one day, as Team Melli lost to its nemesis South Korea after 11 years. It also meant the end of Dragan Skocic’s undefeated record extending two years and 15 matches. Iran lost to a full-strength Korea 2-0 in World Cup stadium in the top of the table clash of Group A FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.

Under the circumstances, it was an honorable defeat, if there is such a term and the result is hardly a source of shame but more rather a disappointment. Losing half of your fix starting players while playing against the top team in the group is in fact expected and fair. This does not indemnify the coach and player, however, as there were some shortfalls and gaps that need attention and analysis.

Starting at the lineup. Despite Skocic statement in the press conference that his team will not be playing a defensive game, his lineup and gameplan were exactly that!

There were six defenders in his team: Shojaa KHALILZADEH, Majid HOSSEINI , Milad MOHAMMADI, Hossein KANANI-ZADEGAN, Omid NOORAFKAN, and Ehsan HAJSAF . However one interprets that, it is still a defensive park-the-bus like lineup.

With a team like South Korea, such a plan will be a dream as it allows their players to keep the pressure up and keep coming at you time and time again until they score, and that is exactly what they did.

Opting for a defensive game plan was not the best option despite the half-strength team. Skocic actually only one defender in Moharrami who was easily replaceable without overhauling the team defense.

There was also this disturbing unconfirmed news that Khalilzadeh started the match carrying an injury sustained in training. It was clear that the defender was suffering and had to be substituted before halftime.

In the Goal:

Despite the horror of the first goal, where Amir Abedzadeh committed a real blunder, the keeper was at the top of his game and was at his best during the first half. His aerial superiority and timely interceptions and distribution of the ball were quite creditable. Even in the first few minutes of the second half, he managed to make a miraculous double save and thwarted Hueing Min Son several times. In the second goal, he was not to be blamed either.

The Defenders:

Skocic wanted to solidify this line to ensure the Koreans don’t turn their full-strength team into an advantage. The poor marking in addition to the clumsy handling by Abedzadeh, resulted in the first goal, but it was not only the keeper’s fault. Questions should be asked why 4 markers could not stop Son Heung-Min from shooting. That was feeble marking.  The second goal, however, was definitely poor marking which allowed the South Korean defender to find himself unmarked in the box and a simple tap-in to score.

On the positive side, the defense really cut the Korean supplies by giving Son Hueing Min very little breathing space. A world-class player like him can inflict real damage and despite scoring one goal the Iranian defenders deprive him of many.

Where were the Midfield players?  

Collectively, it was the worst of the 4 lines of the team. As the game plan required defending from deep, Skocic was counting of these players to form the first defense line, however, that was the Achilles Heals of the team. The defensive side of the midfield worked fine and relatively did what it was asked to do, but they all failed to support the lonely striker in Azmoun and were instrumental in having Azmoun experience one of his most futile matches with Team Melli.

The insistence of Gholizadeh and Nourollahi to send long balls or trying to pass the ball behind the Korean defense to Azmoun failed one time after another. In fact, during the whole match, Iran managed one such success in passing behind to Azmoun, which the striker managed to head mildly into the Korean keepers waiting arms.

Whether the two central midfielders were going according to the game plan or using their own initiatives, is unknown but that is a clear shortfall and needs to be addressed for future and more important games.

Jahanbakhsh and Ezatollahi were sorely missed in this match.

A One-man show at the front!

Basically, that was the case with Azmoun up front against South Korea. He drew a lonely and desperate figure. There was no chance in hell for Azmoun to create a threat let alone score with the little support he had from his teammates and their game plan. Frustrated and lonely, Azmoun was easily neutralized by the Koreans.


In general, the absence of 5 key players is significant for any team and a handicap against the strongest, but in hindsight, things could have been better. It is a loss that practically meant very little, but for the experience and future games, Skocic should have a big lesson to learn and study the match carefully to discover the loops and the gaps that lead to the loss. But once again, no big harm was done.

One point to end the subject. This match will surely be celebrated by the anti-Skocic camp, but then again let us not get fooled by them and their hidden agenda. Skocic’s reputation remains intact and would be prudent to support him all the way to Doha.

South Koreans grab a win against Iran.

Seoul: Korea Republic moved to the top of Group A in the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar™ after a 2-0 victory over the Islamic Republic of Iran on Thursday saw them climb above their opponents with a game to play.
After dominating the first 45 minutes at Seoul World Cup Stadium, Korea opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time through Son Heung-min before Kim Young-gwon doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute with the goal that ultimately killed off the Iranian challenge.
The victory meant Korea claimed a first win over Iran in more than a decade as they also dealt the Iranians their first defeat in Group A to mean they go into their final game away to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday knowing three more points would see them win the group.
While both sides had already secured their passage to the FIFA World Cup, there remained top spot in the standings left to play for as Korea also sought their first win over the Iranians since the 2011 AFC Asian Cup™, with the sides having faced off seven times since.

Both Son and Hwang Hee-chan returned to the Taeguk Warriors’ line-up having missed the previous qualifiers, while Team Melli were without leading scorer Mehdi Taremi, captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Saman Ghoddos, with COVID-19 ruling the trio out.
And it was Paulo Bento’s side who had the first chance of note when just before the 10-minute mark Hwang Ui-jo slipped the ball to Son on the left before darting to the near post and heading the Tottenham Hotspur forward’s first-time delivery just wide.

Korea controlled the majority of the play in the opening 45 minutes but an Iranian backline that had conceded just twice in eight matches to date stood firm until first-half stoppage time when Son’s third goal in Group A broke the deadlock.
The Korean captain was first to a loose ball, skipping round Ahmad Noorollahi in the process and advancing goalwards before unleashing a fizzing shot from 25 yards that proved too hot to handle for ‘keeper Amir Abedzadeh who in truth should have done better.

Korea could have doubled their lead shortly after the restart when Hwang Hee-chan raced through the Iranian defense before slipping in Son, only for the forward to be denied by a superb save from the outrushing Abedzadeh, who was then up quickly to keep out Hwang Ui-jo’s follow-up as he went some way towards making amends for his earlier error.
Bento’s side then did open up a two-goal cushion when good interchange play between Lee Jae-sung and Hwang Hee-chan down the left led to the former playing a low ball into the center for defender Kim – up for a corner just moments earlier – to send home from six yards.

The visitors had their best chance of the night with a little over 10 minutes to play when substitute Allahyar Sayyadmanesh delivered an inviting ball in from the right that the diving Sardar Azmoun could only head into the hands of a grateful Kim Seung-gyu.
Azmoun then played a lovely backheel into the path of Sayyadmanesh just seconds later but, with only Kim to beat, the Hull City forward dinked the ball over the ‘keeper and wide.

Son could have killed the game off with six minutes remaining but saw his goalbound effort deflected wide by Hossein Kanani as the game ended 2-0 and the Koreans maintained their unbeaten record.

Korea now sits a point above Iran ahead of Tuesday’s Matchday 10 clash with the UAE in Dubai, where victory would see them win Group A. Iran, meanwhile, return to Mashhad to round off their campaign against Lebanon.

What are the options of Skocic against South Korea?

Any coach who loses nearly half of his starting players needs to be worried, Skocic is not an exception despite his assertion in the pre-match press conference that Iran will stick to the same game plan and will not resort to a defensive game.

Sadegh Moharrami, Saeid Ezatollahi, Alireza Jahanbaksh, Saman Ghoddod, and Mehdi Taremi, are the five players who started the last match against the UAE but will be missing from the game against South Korea.

Perhaps the two most significant and important players would be Taremi, whose goals have been pushing Iran up in the table and winning the games for Team Melli, and then Jahanbakhsh, an inspiration and a key player whose much-improved game has meant a powerful Iranian side that has not been defeated in the competition. It is not that the rest of the absentees are less important, but the reality is that Jahanbakhsh’s and Taremi’s absence has the biggest impact.

Despite that, Iran’s bench is far from poor and has many players that can fill the gap. Skocic will have to wight his options carefully and play a balanced game against the Koreans. He is right in saying that Iran will not go into a defensive mode, as this will just give the Koreans an advantage, so what are his options?

Expected Line-Up

In the goal, there is very little doubt that Amir Abedzadeh will continue being the number one ahead of Beiranvand.

Amir Abedzadeh

In defense, the absence of Moharrami can be easily covered with several options. Milad Mohammadi and Majid Hosseini are both available and capable despite the fact that it will not be their ideal posts. Mohammadi is a left-back while Hosseini normally plays in the center. A switch of posts is quite possible, however, since the team needs pace against the nifty Koreans, Mohammadi seems better suited for this match.

Milad Mohammadi

Middle of the field, where Team Melli has had good control in the qualifiers, is the most affected with the loss of two key players. For the holding defensive Midfield, Milad Sarlak, is a player with industry and stamina seems to be a good option for a starting place along with Ehsan Hajsafy.  This selection will give Skocic another option as Hajsafy can also operate as the pseudo-right back and switch play at that post. For the offensive side, Nourollahi and Gholizadeh are the most suitable combination. With the scheming of Nourollahi, and the close tight control of Gholizadeh, the forward line will be fed properly in the offensive moves. Vahid Amiri can be employed slightly further up the line or operate as a winger in a 4-4-2 system. Skocic will most probably start him in the midfield role before seeing how the game is progressing.

Milad Sarlak
Ahmad Nourollahi

Upfront, there is little doubt that Sardar Azmoun will take his rightful place as the sole forward, Despite a drop in form after recovering from injury and covid, Azamoun remains the best options upfront in the absence of the talismanic Taremi.

Sardar Azmoun

Much will depend on the progress of the match but our prediction is that Skocic will start with 4-5-1 system that will switch to 4-4-2 in the offensive part.  Other players for consideration are Mehdi Torabi, Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, Karim Ansarifard.





S. Korea coach willing to take risks vs. Iran in World Cup qualifier

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) — Chasing the top seed in South Korea’s group in the final Asian World Cup qualification round, head coach Paulo Bento on Wednesday called on his players to “take some risks” in their next showdown against Iran.

South Korea will host Iran at Seoul World Cup Stadium at 8 p.m. Thursday. It will be the penultimate match in the current World Cup qualifying phase for the two countries, both of which have already secured spots in the big tournament.

With Iran leading Group A at 22 points and South Korea sitting in second place at 20 points, Bento has repeatedly talked about wanting to overtake the Middle Eastern powers for first place. South Korea will have to play out of their comfort zone to accomplish that, Bento said.

Paulo Bento (R), head coach of the South Korean men's national football team, speaks at a press conference at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on March 23, 2022, on the eve of a World Cup qualifying match against Iran, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Paulo Bento (R), head coach of the South Korean men’s national football team, speaks at a press conference at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on March 23, 2022, on the eve of a World Cup qualifying match against Iran, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association.

“A draw for them (Iran) is a result that can make them stay in the first position. On the other side, there will be a team (South Korea) that wants to reach three points and first position, and, of course, should take some risks during the game,” Bento said at his online press conference from the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. “I am confident we’ll be able to take those risks and reach the victory, and make our fans happy.”

South Korea last defeated Iran in January 2011. Iran won their next four meetings by 1-0, and the two have had three consecutive draws since, including a 1-1 tie in October last year in Tehran.


Things will be quite different this time around. Both countries have lost a few players to COVID-19 infections, but Iran, minus their two leading scorers in Mehdi Taremi and Alireza Jahanbakhsh, have suffered a bigger blow.

Members of the South Korean men's national football team train at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on March 23, 2022, on the eve of a World Cup qualifying match against Iran, in this photo provided by the Korea Football Association. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

But Bento remained wary of Iran’s quality.

“We should play as we played before during this phase of qualifying; trying to control and dominate the game through ball possession, and trying to play in opponent’s midfield as much as we can,” Bento said. “And of course, we should take into consideration that we’re going to play against a strong team. We need to attack as much as we can. At the same time, (we should) respect the opponent. When the moment dictates that we should defend, we should be able to do that as well.”

As for South Korea’s own absences, which include young, useful midfielders Paik Seung-ho and Kim Jin-gyu, Bento said he will just have to find ways to beat Iran with the players he has.

“(Paik and Kim) are players that, due to their features, allow the team to play with a different way. They adapt themselves to many tactical systems,” Bento said. “We need to find the right tactical system to play tomorrow. We will play with a strong starting XI. We will have options on the bench to use during the match. And of course, all of the coaches like to have all the players available, but it’s not always possible to have all of them available. We need to find the solutions and make the team compete in the best possible way.”

Cheragpour calls for action to address shortfalls in Iran’s football.

An increasing number of football analysts are concerned with the poor standard of the Iranian football league which was evident in the top of the table clash between Esteghlal and Persepolis in the Tehran derby while also bemoaning the poor discipline and the leniency of the football federation against violations and violent play in matches that are committed without being punished.

In a recent interview, Jalal Cheraghpour the former Team Melli coach and a current football analyst talked to Mehr News and expressed his disappointment with the derby draw between Persepolis and Esteghlal and also discussed Team Melli.

“The derby had everything but football! ” Jalal Cheraghpour said.

” I would like to start with this issue, a comprehensive definition of a football game in one sentence; Because we need to know a specific definition of how a match is presented in order to be able to analyze it.”

The veteran football expert added: “The comprehensive definition of the ’98 derby was war and conflict in a game in which there was no sign of real football! We saw the wastage of football. When we do not observe tactics during the match and do not understand a certain strategy, it means that we are dealing with football waste. All the derby scenes were a football waste. There was nothing technical to rave about or analyze “

” It was like a war, not just small incidents or minor fringes ” Cheraghpour, said: “Unfortunately, the incidents were not anything like what happens in a normal football game. Excessive stress should not lead to abuse to others. Pressure to get results and failure to get a win must not lead to what we witnessed,  a war in which happily no real weapons were used! “

Cheraghpour then commented on the various flashpoints in the match and in particular the behavior and misdemeanor of Persepolis coach. : “Golmohammadi’s behavior was the result of the same football that we saw. The behaviors were completely amateurish and immature. I am not saying that Golmohammadi was wrong or not, but I am saying that we confused the competition with a football war.”

“The Football Federation is going in the wrong direction again ” The former coach of the Iranian national team pointed out the need for the federation to pay attention to the non-technical issues and the troubles and side issues that are perpetually created in every match in the league. He said: “I have no doubt that the Football Federation is still being steered in the wrong direction. We need a Human Behavior department. We need psychologists and clubs should be forced to employ psychoanalysts and disorders analysts to control the emotional disorder of players and coaches. The volume of indifference is mixed with false excitement, which is unbelievable. “

“The referees have become apathetic and the teams are behaving unprofessionally. All these wrong behaviors are naturally transmitted to Team Melli”

“The national team list is becoming repetitive” Cheraghpour said about the latest squad list to play against South Korea and Lebanon: “We are still witnessing a repetitive list despite the current disparities. Technical problems remain on the list. In my opinion, now that the qualification Team Melli is assured, we needed to solve some problems in certain positions. Why are we so conservative? ” Criticizing some of the old players invited to the team, Cheragpour said: “I think if we were looking for progress, a player who has been in the national team for eight years yet plays the least minutes, would not have been invited anymore. Why Karim Ansarifard and Ehsan Haj Safi are still on the list. I like them both, but their physique and stamina no longer suit the technical requirement of modern football and even the Iranian national team. “

“The list of the national team is not progressive,” said Cheraghpour. “This team is again an instrument of the head coach and only fulfills his wishes. With Carlos Queiroz, we also had the same personal selfishness and the objective was to create a successful resume for the head coach. Skocic was selfish like Quieroz. “look at the list, there are eight players that should not be there

The Iranian football expert emphasized:” Eight players of the team have passed their football best. I fail to understand why we do not invite a player who has room to develop, instead. In my opinion, Kamal KamyabiNia does process half of the abilities of three years ago, but he is still present on the list. At the same time, we leave out a player like Mohammad Daneshgar, who still has room for improvement with the national team and who has had an admirable performance in the league with his club.”

He was asked whether the Croatian Head coach is also pursuing personal triumph in the games against South Korea and Lebanon? “Skocic position is quite strong,” he said. “He is no longer afraid of not being on the bench of Team Melli. If he leaves Iran today, he will still have a good CV with the records he achieved with Iran.”

About the strategy that should be deployed in the World Cup 2022, the former coach of Team Melli said “in my opinion, the technical staff must avoid selecting players who keep the ball at their feet longer than 3 seconds or head the ball to pass. They will no longer be useful. Now, world football is moving at a fast pace and momentary decisions of the players are crucial. Unfortunately, our football is much slower than ever. Most Iranian players need twice the time to think and ultimately lose advantage and opportunity”