Tag: Mehdi Mahdavikia

Iran’s request for hosting Olympics qualifiers turned down.

The Asian Football Confederation AFC announced on Friday that the final stage of the AFC U23 Championship which is also the 2024 Paris Olympic football qualifiers, will be hosted by Qatar. \

The decision was taken by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competition Committee in its fifth meeting held today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In this way, Qatar, which will host the FIFA World Cup 2022 in November, will then host the Asian U23 Competition. In addition to Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan also applied to host the tournament, but these requests were rejected in favor of Qatar. Iran’s Omid football team is currently non-existent. After the departure of Mehdi Mahdavikia, the situation of the head coach of this team is uncertain. With Mehdi Taj taking office in the football federation, Mahdavikia left and as yet there is no news about the team’s status or its coach.

While all the other teams are in training, Iran’s Omid team ( Hope team) is hopeless and technically speaking, is disbanded. The Iranian Olympic Committee has once again that this team will qualify for the Paris Olympic Games, a claim that has been regularly heard for the last 44 years.

The plight of Omid Team, a reoccurring saga.

A spell that is not going to break approaching the 44th year.

Omid’s national football team is approaching the Olympics without the support of officials and clubs, and the spell of its failures will probably reach 48 years. Iran’s U23 (Omid national football team) started its camp to prepare for the Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey, and without playing its second preparatory game, the training camp was canceled and everyone was sent home. After months of planning, support, and budgeting, the result of which is that Iran is unable to send the Olympic hopeful team to the Islamic Solidarity games!

This disappointment occurred while many in the corridors of the FFIRI and the media were hopeful that Mehdi Mahdavikia will be able to qualify the Omid Team for the Olympic games in Paris after a 44 years absence. The first sign of trouble for Omid, however, was clear when they astonishingly failed to qualify from the group stage in the AFC U23 championship, and now they are unable to form a team that can compete in a much lesser competition which was supposed to be an important stage preparing or the Olympics.

Under such circumstances, what rights does Iran’s U23 team has to claim a place amongst the elite in the Olympics or be among the top three teams in Asia? Certainly not with the situation that Iranian football, sports authorities and clubs have created for the team. Therefore, it is not far from expected that Iranian football will be absent from the Olympics in 2024. While Asian countries such as Saudi Arabia, which recently won the championship of AFC U23 Cup, are preparing to experience another international event, Iranian football has failed to form a preparatory camp and send it to a tournament.

When Asian football powers such as South Korea, Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq and emerging powers in this age group including Uzbekistan, Qatar, UAE, etc. do their best planning to participate in an event like the Olympics and gain experience in these competitions, Iran’s Omid national team has started its camp while the players trickled into the U23 national team in the form of drop by drop, and finally, due to the absence of seven key players of this selection, the project of competing in the Islamic solidarity games was shelved by Mahdavikia!

While the Premier League clubs have refused to release their players to the Omid team, the aforementioned games end on August 25, i.e. 5 days after the start of the Premier League.  Gaining experience by playing three good games against teams like Azerbaijan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia is the exact requirement for the Omid Team that it lacked in these months. Since Mahdavikia took office as Omid’s head coach, this team has only managed one friendly game with Iraq as its preparation match, while other meetings have been against League teams!
If the Iranian national team had the same facilities as countries with power and capital, everyone would definitely agree that it is unfair if such a team does not qualify for the Olympics and international events, and instead, a team that does not have any plans, facilities, and budgets, does so in the best event of this age group.

The actions of the Football Federation and the National Olympic Committee, in this case, are no different from the previous cases of Iran’s Omid team failures, which are aplenty. Iran’s Omid is following the path it followed in the past 44 years. Creating a bunch of excuses and justification, blaming the earth and the sky, and anything in between, until the next Olympics and the next failure.

The reality is the same and hardly changes. Iran’s football lack of strong leadership is the result of decades of incompetent and corrupt managers controlling the affairs. It is whom you know and which gang you belong to that gives these people the opportunity to manage clubs and the federation rather than ability, competency, knowledge or heaven forbids, intelligence. Most of the football federation and club personnel that controls football, have no right to be anywhere near these institutions. The few good ones that remain and work faithfully and purely for the interest of the nation, do not survive the plots and the corrupt lobbies.

Omid Team withdraws from the Islamic Solidarity Games!

The team that Mehdi Mahdavikia is managing in hope of qualifying for the Paris Olympic Games 2024, has announced its withdrawal from the Islamic Solidarity Games that are supposed to be held in Turkey.

These games, were part of a long-term project to qualify the young Iranian team for the Olympic Games in Paris.

After some disappointing showings including the elimination from the AFC U23 Cup in the group rounds, the latest results have indicated that this team is far from challenging for any kind of title and has a long way to go to be taken seriously. According to Mahdavikia himself, If these are the conditions that we have to work under, we will be lucky to make Mehrabad airport let alone Paris!
The difficulties that Mhadavikia, who has lost his foreign assistants and advisors, is referring to include but are not limited to the reluctance of the League clubs to release their players, many of whom are fixed, senior team players.

Omid Team foreign coaches left Iran after non-payment of their wages by the FFIRI or the Iranian Olympic Committee IOC, something which is quite normal in Iran. The breach of contracts between teams and coaches is affecting all levels of football in the country.

In the latest friendly match, the Omid team under Mahadavikia lost to Persepolis 4-2 with the reds playing some of the players that Mahdavikia picked for the U23 team. Kia claimed that he had only 14 to 16 players available to him and that number is quite insufficient for a team that is preparing for a major championship.

It has been quite a rough road for Mehdi Mahdavikia who reluctantly agreed to coach the Omid Team, while many others turned down this offer. The U23 or Omid Team has been a serious failing experience for the aspiring and even experienced Iranian coaches. All of them failed to achieve anything of worth for the team Melli of the future. Many of these coaches’ reputations were damaged beyond repair after experiencing failures with Omid, Mahdavikia is in danger of being added to that list too.

The FFIRI has not formally announced the withdrawal from the Solidarity games yet.

Omid Team knocked out at the first stage of AFC U23 Cup

Iran’s U23 team (Omid) was knocked out of the AFC U23 Asian Cup after the draw a 1-1 against host Uzbekistan in Qarashi yesterday. Winless Iran ranked third after two draws and a defeat. The host Uzbekistan and first-time participants Turkmenistan qualified for the next round.

Mahdavikia, was facing the impossible task facing the Uzbek team, miracles however are a rare commodity in football.  Uzbekistan scored first from yet another Amataurish defending by Iran, while late in the second half, the Omid team found an equalizer but too late to save the day.

Mehdi Mahdavikia was left to reflect on their early exit in the campaign, admitting that the 2-1 defeat against debutants Turkmenistan hurt their chances.
“We are out of the tournament because we lost against Turkmenistan. That’s a fact,” said Mehdi. “But today was a good game. If we had taken our chances, we could have won the match but now we look back and see how we can improve.
“There are two problems that we need to overcome. First, we need to score and our players need to improve their fitness. Many of them do not play in the professional league so this is one problem we must solve before the next competition.”

The fact remains that Omid Team was ill-prepared for a tournament like that. The culprit is quite obvious to every fan by now and hope of any progress is simply futile in short term. FFIRI personnel, are too busy and too involved in their political in-fighting and lobbying to give the national teams any serious consideration. With the FFIRI without a head, as was ousted the acting Head and the rest were simply not good enough to shoulder this important responsibility. Team Melli is another victim of this politics.

However, there were surprise noises talking about sacking Mahdavikia because of the Omid Team Failure. Although there is no doubt that Mahdavikia shoulders major responsibility for the defeat and no justification such as preparing the team for the Olympics has any value, the former Hamburg player is about the best bet for the job. There is no other domestic coach who can stand up to be counted. Most repetitive names, like Hamid Estili, Peyrovani, Khakpour, etc came and gone without achieving anything for Omid Team. They all failed and some miserably so.

The difference with Mahdavikia is that he took the proper process in his coaching career. He is certified, coaching youth-level teams in Hamburg, played most of his career in Germany and has learned a lot from an anation that has the greatest football system in the world.

Of course, any coach needs the tools and the support to succeed, Mahdavikia had very little of both. Young Iranian domestic league players are victims of a poor standard league, lack of development programs, priorities to win at all costs, short-term success demanded by clubs, sub0standard coaching, and lack of professional guidance. It is surprising how some Omid Team players through this edition of the AFC U23 Asian Cup lacked simple and basic skills.

While Iran’s chances of making the Paris Olympic Games is a long shot, given some proper support, Mahdavikia will at least stand a good chance to develop a few good players to feed Team Melli in the future.


Group A

3 2 1 0 8 1 7 7
3 1 1 1 4 4 0 4
3 0 2 1 3 4 -1 2
3 0 2 1 3 9 -6 2

AFC U23 Cup: Uzbekistan v. Iran review

Qarshi: Uzbekistan head coach Timur Kapadze wants to close out their AFC U23 Asian Cup™ Group A campaign with a perfect record when they face Iran on Tuesday.
The hosts opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Turkmenistan, followed by a 6-0 masterclass against Qatar to see them through to the knockout stage with pole position secured.
Kapadze, however, expects a tough challenge from their Central Asian rivals, who are led by former Iran international Mehdi Mahdavikia.
“In general, there are no weak teams in this tournament, 16 of the strongest teams from Asia are in Uzbekistan,” said Kapadze. “In particular, Iran are a strong team and have their own style of play. They have several good players in every position.

“I know Mehdi Mahadavikia as a football player. He played in several famous teams. Today he has good results in coaching. He is one of the specialists who has formed his team well and has his own philosophy.”

#AFCU23 – Group A | Qatar 0 – 6 Uzbekistan

Kapadze hinted at the possibility of resting some players but is confident the replacements will deliver.

“We will first have to see the players’ condition, we may have some injuries, or take yellow cards into account. The rest of our players are good and can play in the starting-11, so we will see.

“We don’t only play well as a team but we also have a lot of individual players with good technical skills. I would not pay special attention to any player. Because, as I said, we have good players in every position.”
Having played before in front of big crowds in Tashkent, Uzbekistan have travelled down south to the city of Qarshi for the All-Central Asian derby at the Markaziy Stadium and Kapadze said his players are determined to deliver another winning performance for the fans.

“This competition is held on the fields of our country, that’s why this tournament is very important for us,” said Kapadze. “We want to win the title in front of our fans.”

#AFCU23 – Group A | Turkmenistan 2 – 1  Iran

Iran head coach Mahdavikia, meanwhile, faces a must-win match if his side are to stand a chance of finishing runners-up, depending on the Turkmenistan-Qatar result.

“We made mistakes in the first and second games and made it hard for ourselves after the defeat against Turkmenistan. However, we’re looking forward to facing Uzbekistan,” said Mahdavikia.

“We started well against Turkmenistan but during the second half, we lost control and that allowed them to score the second goal. Getting the three points is very important tomorrow. We must win.”
Despite the control and better ball possesion in both the matches, Iran’s U23 started the tournament with a big handicap. The preparation has been dismal, the support from Iran’s Olympic Committee has been nothing but hot air, while the only bright part of the team, Mahdavikia was just about to leave in frustration. All these were signs of a team that is crumbling and trying to enter the competition for the sake of turning up. The two matches also showed how immature the Iranian players are at such an age level. IT is embarrassing and once again indicative of such a poor grassroots development in Iran.
The chances of Iran’s Omid team beating one of the contenders and host of the tournament is remote, but with the possibility that the Uzbek will line up a second-string team after assuring qualification, Mahdavikia must take that chance if his players do not fail him.

Uzbekistan v IR Iran
Venue: Markaziy Stadium (Qarshi)
Kick-off: 22:00 (UTC+5)

Embarrassing loss to Turkmenistan in AFC U23 Asian Cup

Mehdi Mahadavikia was observed wondering why on earth he took this unwanted and unpopular job while watching his players’ desperate attempt to equalize in the dying minutes of the match while Turkmenistan was leading 2-1 against his 10 men team.

It was clear that the head coach of Iran’s Omid Team was not stunned by the result, perhaps knowing his players’ capabilities, it was not a great surprise for him or, he is a brave coach who has not lost hope and seriously think they can do it. In both cases, Omid Team was far from a convincing team. It lacks the capacity and skills to make itself count amongst the Asian elites. The team was defeated and once again has to resort to prayers in order to qualify out of the group with one match left against the strongest team in the group.

Omid team in fact started quite well and scored early through Alireza Bavieh, a player that later will become a villain and who was one of the reasons for the team’s downfall due to his utter idiocy.

Ball distribution was immaculate as Mahdavikia’s boys controlled the game and most of the time was spent in Turkmenistan’s half. But teams don’t win matches based on ball possessions. The Forward line was ineffective and toothless. Turkmenistan keeper hardly had to make a save in anger since he picked up the ball from his net early in the first half.

The more the Iranians attacked the easier the Turkmen defended with confidence. Omid Team’s finishing was atrocious as the players were both slow in pace and thinking. They missed the target more often than not. The performance was marred by players failing to take the right options, simple passes, lack of focus, and general lack of pac. The team looked quite amateurish at times and it hardly threatened the opposition.

On the other hand, the defense and the keeper of Iran’s U23 team were shakey. Every time the Turkmen attacked they created havoc in the Omid defense. The lack of confidence and coordination was evident when a silly uncalled-for penalty was conceded in which Turkmenistan scored the equalizer.

After that, the Omid team was on a downhill path. It was sad and pathetic to witness Iran’s team trying to cheat by diving against a team like Turkmenistan, seriously sad moment for Iranian football.

And then came that most stupid of acts by the goals scorer Alireza Bavieh whose wild tackle in the middle of the field while the Turkmen player posed no threat whatsoever against Iran’s goal. Bavvieh’s tackle was high and dangerous. He received his marching order for Iran to continue with 10 players.

A brilliant goal from Turkmenistan sealed that match as Mahdivika’s team lost 2-1 and therefore requires a miracle to qualify from the group. A miracle, hopes and prayers are something we are by now used to at this level of Iranian football.

AFC U23 : Iran-Turkmenistan match preview

After settling for a point against Qatar on Matchday One, head coach Mehdi Mahdavikia wants Iran to improve their sharpness in front of the goal after mustering only three shots on target from a total of 14. In a performance that was more worrying than encouraging, the Omid Team (U23) lacked sharpness, and finishing touch in a performance marred by fundamental defensive errors. A better team than Qatar would have inflicted some damage on Team Melli.
“My players had a lot of opportunities in our opening game against Qatar but we couldn’t convert our chances and this is a problem,” said Mahdavikia. “We lost two points even though we were the better team in terms of possession. After conceding late in the second half, we managed to salvage a point and we must do better against Turkmenistan.”
The former Iran International stressed his team must remain focused on Turkmenistan as the three points are crucial.
A failure to win the 3 points will put the Iran U23 team in a difficult position as they are going to face group leader and host Uzbekistan in their final group match.
“The game against Qatar is finished now and we must stay completely focused on the next match. We started our recovery and we are looking forward to getting the three points against Turkmenistan. We respect all teams, but we need to get the three points against them.”
Meanwhile, Ahmet Agamyradow’s Turkmenistan faces another litmus test when they meet Iran in their AFC U23 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2022 Group A tie on Saturday.
Turkmenistan, who are appearing in the AFC U23 Asian Cup for the first time, held their own against hosts Uzbekistan on Matchday One but were undone by a penalty as they fell to a 1-0 defeat.
Agamyradow, while satisfied with his players’ performance against Uzbekistan, admitted they have to be smarter in decision-making during matches moving forward.

“We made one mistake during a set-piece situation and that caused us the game,” said Agamyradow. “This is football and now we have to switch our attention to our next opponents. In our opening match against Uzbekistan, we used up plenty of energy to defend and we lacked ball control in certain situations.”
Turkmenistan almost equalized in added time with Muhammadqodir Khamraliev sending his free-kick just wide and Agamyradow wants his players to have the same fighting mentality against Iran.
“I was very happy with how my players responded when we were trailing by a goal. They showed determination and almost scored in the end with the set-piece situation. I want my team to play with the same intensity as they did against Uzbekistan.
“It’s the first time we are playing in the AFC U23 Asian Cup and to start off with a defeat is difficult for any team. We had a day’s rest and will regroup for our next match against Iran.”

Turkmenistan v IR Iran
Venue: Bunyodkor Stadium (Tashkent)
Kick-off: 18:00 (UTC +5)

Prospects of Omid Team in AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022

Mehdi Mahdavikia embarks on a difficult journey to qualify the Omid (U23) team for the next Olympics in Paris. Iran’s football has failed to qualify for the Olympics for 42 years. The last time Iran qualified was two years after the revolution in 1980, but even then the Team was no show due to the ill-advised boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games.

The players Mahdavikia selected are those who can be available to make it to Paris except for a few whose age will limit them.

Unlike most of the new Iranian coaches, Mahdavikia took the right path in qualifying as a coach. He has attended several courses and had his on job training experience at Hamburg SV as a coach of age group teams. His experience is valuable for Team Melli teams, but there will always be a disconnect between him and his players because of the different football cultures the domestic player have been playing under.

The Difficulties.

The Omid team players are mostly a product of Iran’s domestic league. The majority of them play for the middle of the table or lower clubs. Iran’s domestic league at best is a poor league and of a lower standard than the more advanced Asian teams such as Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Qatar.  This standard of the league reflects directly on the team, so Mahdavikia has the challenging task of upgrading the capabilities of the players by teaching them skills and modern techniques they have not been exposed to before.  A better standard of coaching in Iran would have helped, unfortunately, in Iran, the coaches are even poorer than the league itself. Most of them retire as players and turn up the next day as coaches of the youth teams, the worst possible scenario in football.

The mental toughness and emotional condition of Iranian players have always lagged the others. Such weakness leads to defeats that would have been avoided, however, Mahdavikia has limited options to make his players unlearn years of poor training and mental preparation in a matter of days. If he can even partially overcome this perpetual problem then Omid Team stands a chance to make it to the semifinals at least. Basic behavior such as goal celebration is eccentric and at times embarrassing and petulant. The team needs a certain level of maturity and learning to behave under all conditions.

Discipline is another issue that hindered Iranian players at all levels. In fact, football is not immune from society, so indiscipline is quite rife. If there is no firm disciplinary measure, the problem will even intensify, and the results can be catastrophic like not even making it from the group level. That is a tough job for the Head Coach who is never been known to be a tough guy. It remains to be seen if his European career experience will have an effect on the squad and help sort out the young players.

The Positives.

A winning mentality is engraved in Iranian culture. You can count on every Iranian team to fight to the end and not give up. This is quite important especially when the team is behind.

The physique of Omid players is at a decent level, they seem to be strong and solid. A physically weak team is at a disadvantage from the word go and even more, skillful teams can suffer if the opposition is physically stronger and wins tackles around the pitch.

It is safe to say that Omid Team and Mahdavikia have no star players on the team. However, in captain Yasin Salmani, the team has a strong leader and quite a skillful player who has already scored spectacular goals in the domestic league. The absence of Allahyar Sayyadmanesh and Mehdi Ghaedi will be felt, but since they are both playing outside Iran, their availability was an issue.


Anything above qualifying from this group is progress for Iran’s Omid team in this tournament. There are already two tough teams in Uzbekistan and Qatar so their qualification from the group is not assured.

With so many good teams in this edition, it is not very easy for Iran to make the final. A semi-final is the best the fans can hope for, but like they always say, football is unpredictable.

Asian U23 Asian Cup 2022: Iran vs Qatar preview

Tashkent: Islamic Republic of Iran and Qatar have promised their best when they kick off their AFC U23 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2022 Group A campaign on Wednesday.
The Bunyodkor Stadium will feature a tie between two teams who have made it past the group stage in previous editions, and both head coaches are aiming to secure an early advantage in a tough group that also includes 2018 champions Uzbekistan and debutants Turkmenistan.


IR Iran   v   Qatar
AFC U23 Asian Cup
Wednesday 1 June 2022 14:00
Venue: Milliy Stadion
Head coach Mehdi Mahdavikia has named a squad with an average age of just 21, but the legendary former Team Melli defender is confident the youngsters can step up to the plate.

“We are here with a very young team but with big goals,” said Mahdavikia. “This will be a great experience for us. There are a lot of difficult teams in our group, but we will do our best to have the best results.

“We have the tournament hosts Uzbekistan, a powerful team in Qatar and a respected team in Turkmenistan. We respect all our rivals, but we want to have the best results in the group.”
Mahdavikia will be missing several players who impressed in the Qualifiers, goalkeeper Alireza Rezaei among them, but the coach doesn’t believe this has weakened his side.

“We don’t have any problems, we have many talented players in all the positions. We believe in them and that they can achieve our goals.”

#AFCU23 | Know Your Group A Teams : IR IRAN

The likes of Almoez Ali and Akram Afif first impressed in the 2018 AFC U23 Asian Cup before going on to steer Qatar to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 title and head coach Nicolas Cordova, who took over the reins from Felix Sanchez, is confident his new generation of players can make their mark as well.
“We know that it’s going to be a tough tournament,” said Chilean Cordova. “The qualification itself was tough. All the teams have the potential to win the tournament.

“We have a good young generation. Still, we have to take into consideration that we’re participating with a younger team than usual, which is part of our long term project to prepare them. I’m sure the future will be the same, where we have good players moving to the national team.”

#AFCU23 | Know Your Group A Teams : QATAR

Cordova said Qatar, who finished third in 2018, had prepared well for the tournament, including having played several friendlies.

“We are generally satisfied with the games (friendlies), because we always look for opportunities to improve and be better. “The teams in this tournament are very good, but it’s about ourselves and competing in our best way.

“We can’t talk about the minimum (target), but the maximum target is to prepare for each game in the best way and to be ready and competitive. If we are well prepared, we can aim to go far.”

Islamic Republic of Iran v Qatar
Venue: Bunyodkor Stadium (Tashkent)
Kick-off: 18:00 (UTC+5)

Iran’s Omid Team defeats Iraq in a friendly

Iran’s Omid national football team defeated its Iraqi counterpart by one goal at the Medina Stadium in Baghdad tonight at 9 pm.

The U23 Team or the national football team of Omid is currently in Iraq for a training camp that includes two friendly matches.

Under Mehdi Mahdavikia, the players are preparing for the upcoming AFC U23 Asian Cups. The only goal of the game came in the first half in the 12th minute by Aria Yousefi, a Sepahani player recently invited to the Omid national team.

Omid Iran line up was as follows:  Parsa Jafari, Amir Jafari, Milad Kerr, Saman Fallah (Mohammad Ghorbani), Alireza Khodaei, Mohammad Khodabandeh Lou, Yasin Salmani (captain), Mohammad Hossein Zaveri (Ali Pilaram), Amir Ali Sadeghi, Ahmad Shariatzadeh (Mohammad Javad) Kalmarzi), Arya Yousefi.