Tag: Mehdi Taremi

Taremi officially joins Inter Milan

Inter has confirmed the signing of Mehdi Taremi on a three-year contract following his departure from Porto.

The deal between Inter and the striker, who left Portugal after seeing out the end of his contract, was reached earlier this year and was confirmed after he completed his medical.

Taremi made 182 appearances for Porto after joining in 2020, scoring 91 goals in all competitions.

The Iran international enjoyed a distinguished four-year spell at the club, winning the Primeira Liga, two Portuguese Super Cups, three Portuguese Cups and the Portuguese League Cup.

Taremi is the third player to move to San Siro so far this transfer window, joining Piotr Zielinski and Josep Martinez at the club.

The Team Melli center forward has expressed his eight as the first Iranian player to join the Italian giants Internazionale of Milan. In his first interview in Milan, Taremi focused on helping his club win matches, score goals, and assist his teammates.

Striker Mehdi Taremi will weigh a total of €5.55 million on Inter Milan’s balance sheet for the fiscal year ending next June.

This is according to Italian outlet Calcio e Finanza. The outlet does note that the commissions involved in the deal are not known, however.

Now it’s official. Inter has completed the signing of Taremi on a free transfer.

The Nerazzurri confirmed the Iranian’s arrival yesterday.

Taremi has arrived on a free transfer. His contract with Porto had run out at the end of last month, meaning that he left the Portuguese giants after four years and was able to join another club without a fee.

Inter’s propensity for free transfer signings is hardly a secret.

That is the route via which all of Hakan CalhanogluHenrikh Mkhitaryan, Andre Onana, and Marcus Thuram have arrived at the Nerazzurri in recent seasons.

And this summer, Taremi is not the only big name free transfer signing that Inter have made.

The Nerazzurri have also brought in Piotr Zielinski after his contract with Napoli ran out.

Mehdi Taremi Weighs Around €5.55M On Inter Milan Balance Sheet

Of course, even without a transfer fee, it is not as though signing Taremi has cost Inter nothing.

Calcio e Finanza note that the commissions involved in the deal have not been revealed. However, it is safe to say that there were some.

But in terms of the wages for the Iranian, Taremi is earning €3 million net per season.

Inter will not be able to apply the Growth Decree to these.

In the past, the Growth Decree would have allowed Inter to spend less on the wages of a player arriving from a foreign league like Taremi.

This would have been the result of lower taxes on the wages.

However, the Italian government scrapped the application of the policy to football last year.

Team Melli Legionnaires: Navigating Uncertain Paths

As the end of 2023/2024 season, the future prospects of Team Melli’s legionnaire players hang in the balance. Unfortunately, their performances in European leagues have been less than stellar. Let’s delve into the individual stories of these key players:

Mehdi Taremi

In the 2022/23 season, Taremi dazzled as a key player for FC Porto, scoring 22 goals in 33 Primeira Division games. However, last season, contract negotiations and reduced playing time dimmed his star. Porto’s head coach favored other players, and Taremi featured in only 23 league matches, netting 6 goals. His heart now beats for a move to Inter Milan, although no official contract has been announced yet.

Sardar Azmoun

Azmoun’s loan spell at AS Roma in Serie A didn’t pan out as expected. Despite Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga triumph, Azmoun played second fiddle to Lukaku and Dybala. His 23 appearances included just 3 starts, with 20 substitute roles. He found the net 3 times. AS Roma’s contract with Azmoun ends soon, and Leverkusen seeks offers—preferably an outright sale—to recoup their investment.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh

Jahanbakhsh’s stint at Feyenoord was forgettable. In 16 Eredivisie matches, he failed to score. Starting in only 3 games, he spent most of his time as a substitute. Feyenoord has let go of the 30-year-old captain and winger. Jahanbakhsh’s agents are actively scouting West European clubs, though Turkish sides have shown interest at lower wages.

Saman Ghoddos

Brentford’s Premier League journey didn’t feature Ghoddos prominently. His one-year contract expires soon, and the club shows no interest in an extension. Ghoddos made 19 appearances, mostly as a substitute, but did manage a memorable goal. His versatility caught the eye, but his next destination remains uncertain. Sweden beckons, but Ghoddos hopes for a more ambitious opportunity.

The Crucible Awaits: Team Melli’s Legionnaires

As the 2023/2024 season draws its final curtain, Team Melli’s legionnaire players find themselves at a crossroads. Their lackluster performances in European leagues cast shadows over their prospects. The stakes are high—the FIFA World Cup 2026 looms on the horizon, and Iran eyes a coveted spot among the final 48 teams.

The Unyielding Challenge

While Iran’s group isn’t insurmountable, the team’s fate hinges on its key players. Their game time and exposure to strong leagues will reverberate through every match. Can they rise to the occasion and propel Team Melli to glory?

The Race Against Time

With the 2024/25 season kicking off in August, these players face a tight schedule. Settling into new teams swiftly becomes paramount. As winter approaches, the four World Cup qualifying matches await—a litmus test for their mettle.

The arena awaits, and Team Melli’s fate hangs in the balance. Will these legionnaires seize their moment or fade into obscurity? Only time will tell.

Taremi determined to power Iran to 2026 Finals

Taremi determined to power IR Iran to 2026 Finals
www.the-afc.com – AFC ASIAN QUALIFIERSTUE, 25 JUNE, 2024

Kuala Lumpur: The pain of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s semi-final exit at the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ still stings for Mehdi Taremi but, as the striker tells the-AFC.com, he is choosing to look towards the future; to his impending move to Serie A giants Inter Milan and to what he hopes will be another FIFA World Cup Finals appearance.

No nation knows semi-final heartbreak at the AFC Asian Cup quite like IR Iran; on seven occasions since 1976 – the most recent of the country’s three consecutive continental titles – Team Melli have fallen one hurdle before the tournament’s deciding match.

The latest loss remains fresh in the mind of Mehdi Taremi, the talismanic striker whose goals in recent years have been one of the drivers of his country’s qualification for the last two FIFA World Cup Finals, but who continue to fall short of a fourth AFC Asian Cup.

The 3-2 defeat to hosts Qatar – the defending champions who would go on to retain the title – in February hurt so much that Taremi has refused to watch reruns of the game and shies away from discussing the defeat.

#AsianCup2023 | Semi-final : Islamic Republic Of Iran 2 - 3 Qatar

“After the Qatar game, I never saw the game and I haven’t talked until now about that game,” he tells the-AFC.com. “I don’t want to look back and think about the past.

“We’re always thinking about what is in front of us. We’re looking forward to the next step and who we are going to play against.

“It’s still painful. I think we deserved to win the Asian Cup. We created a lot of chances there, we missed a lot of chances but that’s football.”

Missing scoring opportunities is not a characteristic often associated with Taremi. The 31-year-old hit a hat-trick against Hong Kong, China earlier this month to record his 48th goal in 804 matches as he continued his long-standing run of form for Iran.

It is his ability in front of goal that has seen Taremi establish himself among the leading scorers in European club football since his move to Portugal to join Rio Ave from Al Gharafa in Qatar before a subsequent move to Porto, where he has spent the last four seasons.

Taremi’s time on the Iberian peninsula, however, has come to an end with the expiration of his contract with the Estadio de Dragao-based club, and a new adventure in Italy with Inter Milan awaits.

“That five years, it has created this Mehdi,” he says of his time in Portugal, where he scored 112 times in 217 games in all competitions.

“I have become a more experienced guy, I have become a more professional guy and all of those people who have helped me there I appreciate all of those guys, the staff the players at Rio Ave club and at Porto as well. They have created this Mehdi.

“When you play in Asia and in Europe it’s completely different. There you have to be more professional, otherwise you cannot play at a high level.

“In Asia you have to too, but how they play there is faster and quicker and the games are at a higher level. When you play in the UEFA Champions League you have to be ready, you have to play against big players, big teams and that has made me different.”

Taremi’s ability in front of goal led to significant speculation over his next destination and, while the rumour mill generated talk of numerous possibilities, it was the newly crowned Italian champions who won the battle for his signature.

It is a move the Bushehr-born forward is relishing as it presents him with another opportunity to feature once more in the UEFA Champions League.

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“Inter has a strong team and from what I’ve seen on the TV the players are friendly, the team are strong and they are compact, together,” he says.

“I think there is a good feeling there between the players and the coaches. Inter is a big club and because of that I chose Inter. I want to play in Italy, I want to show myself there too.

“Since I was seven, eight years old I saw a lot of games in Italy, Spain, England, everywhere. When you watch the games you’re a supporter of the big clubs and Inter is one of those. I remember many things of Inter in the UEFA Champions League, in the league and the history of Inter and that makes me happy to go there. It convinced me to go there.

“My goal is to help the team as I can. I’ll try to do my job, scoring and assists. So let’s see what’s going to happen.”

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While Taremi will be adjusting to his new surroundings at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza – better known around the world as San Siro – he will also be attempting to ensure Iran qualify for another FIFA World Cup finals.

Having failed to score in his first FIFA World Cup appearance in Russia in 2018, Taremi was twice on target at Qatar 2022 against England and his aim is to improve on that tally in the Canada, Mexico and United States edition in 2026.

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“I always try to think about football and about my future,” he says. “I put a lot of effort each day into my job.

“The main goal is, first of all we have to go to the World Cup, and then my main goal is I have to try my best to score more than two goals at the next World Cup. So let’s see.”

Team Melli Aims for Top Spot in Group E Clash Against Uzbekistan

In tonight’s crucial match at Azadi Stadium, Team Melli faces Uzbekistan, both teams having already secured their place in the third round of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers. The stakes are high as they battle for supremacy in Group E.

Key Points:

  1. Uzbekistan’s Confidence:
    • In the pre-match press conference, Uzbekistan Coach Srečko Katanec emphasized that his team feels no pressure after qualifying. They intend to take the game to Iran and aim for victory.
    • Two Uzbek players, Auston Aronov and Jalaluddin Masharipov, who play in Iran for Esteghlal and Persepolis, could pose a challenge for Team Melli.
  2. Head-to-Head History:
    • Team Melli and Uzbekistan have faced each other 13 times, with Iran holding the upper hand, having secured 10 wins against a lone defeat.
    • The previous encounter between the two teams ended in a 2-2 draw.
  3. Unbeaten Streaks:
    • Both teams have lost only to Qatar in their last 10 games, specifically during the AFC Asian Cup 2023.
    • Their overall form remains strong, with no defeats in other matches.
  4. Defensive Concerns for Team Melli:
    • Critics have raised concerns about Team Melli’s defensive system. Despite aging center-back Shoja Khalilzadeh’s inclusion, cohesion remains an issue.
    • Coach Amir Ghaleneoi has introduced young talent into the defense, but better coordination is needed.
    • Defending as a unit has not been very well executed, a job the Team Melli defensive coordinators like Rahman Rezaei, need to focus on.
  5. Midfield and Attack:
    • Defensive midfielder Mohammed Ghorbani has performed well in recent matches, while Saman Ghoddos orchestrates offensive moves.
    • Strikers Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun are poised to strike if provided with quality service.
  6. Referee and Match Details:
    • The match will be officiated by Kim Jong Hyuk from South Korea.
    • Kickoff time: 20:30 local Iran time.

In summary, Team Melli faces a critical test against Uzbekistan, and fans eagerly await an exciting clash between these two talented sides. 🌟🇮🇷⚽️


Taremi Set to Elevate Inter Milan’s Attack in 2024-25

By Matteo Pifferi, Editor | June 8, 2024

Mehdi Taremi

Inter Milan is on the cusp of officially securing Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi. The Italian club has yet to officially announce the news of ex-Porto joining the club. Having already completed his medical, Taremi is poised to play a pivotal role for the Nerazzurri in the upcoming season.
Taremi is a free agent and would cost Inter Milan no transfer fee to be paid for Porto, although there is the customary signing-on fee that is usually awarded to players on joining.

Taremi scored a hat trick for Iran against Hong Kong in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying rounds.

A Determined Arrival

Taremi arrives at Inter with clear intentions. He emphatically states, “I’m not here to be a reserve player. I aspire to be more than just an option from the bench.” His ambition is palpable, and he aims to climb the ranks, leaving no doubt about his desire to contribute significantly from the first minute.

Beyond Luxury Alternatives

The Iranian forward won’t settle for a luxury role. Instead, he seeks to surpass expectations. Taremi’s mission is to become indispensable, not merely a backup to Marcus Thuram and Lautaro Martinez. Unlike Alexis Sanchez and Marko Arnautovic, who played supporting roles this season, Taremi aims for greater importance within the squad.

Instilling Confidence

Tuttosport highlights Taremi’s determination to win over teammates and fans alike. He plans to impress Inzaghi, ensuring that the coach considers him for every game and competition. Taremi’s debut in Portugal, where he scored a hat-trick for Rio Ave, serves as a testament to his capabilities.

Training Advantage

Unlike his national team-bound counterparts, Taremi can start training immediately. This advantage positions him well enough to convince Inzaghi of his readiness to lead Inter’s attack during a demanding season.

Mehdi Taremi’s arrival promises excitement and ambition at Inter Milan. Fans eagerly await his impact on the pitch.


1: Source: Taremi & Carboni to complete revamped Inter attack in 2024-25

H2H: Uzbekistan

On Tuesday, Team Melli will play its final match in the FIFA World Cup 2026 round 2 qualification against Uzbekistan.

The match will determine who will lead the group as both teams have accumulated 13 points from their five matches with Iran leading by the +12 goal difference while Uzbekistan is +9.

The first time these two teams met was in the 1998 Asin Games in Bangkok, where Ali Daei single-handedly swept past the Uzbek with a hat trick, and Ali Mosavi completed the rout with a goal.

It took 14 years for Uzbekistan to register its first and only win against Iran in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Azmoun, Taremi, and Daei are jointly the top scorers against Uzbekistan with 3 goals each.

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ScorerGoals
Ali DAEI3
Sardar AZMOUN3
Mehdi TAREMI3
Jalal HOSSEINI2
Mehdi TORABI2
Javad KAZEMIAN1
Ali MOUSAVI1
MohamadReza KHALATBARY1
Rouzbeh CHESHMI1
Ramin REZAEIAN1

Taremi’shat trick sinks Hong Kong

Soft spot-kick turns the tide for Iran in the Fifa World Cup qualifier, but Hong Kong shows guts with new boys Timmy Ma and Anthony Pinto on target

Paul McNamara

Paul McNamara+ FOLLOW

6 Jun 2024

Hong Kong football christened two new heroes on Thursday night, but Wolfgang Luisser’s first game in temporary charge ended in a controversial 4-2 World Cup qualifying defeat at home to Iran.

Timmy Ma Hei-wai adeptly swept home a cross from Tan Chun-lok after 15 minutes of his senior international debut. Anthony Pinto was even quicker off the mark, dispatching a low effort past Payam Niazmand only two minutes after replacing Ma in the second half.

Ma’s stunning introduction was sandwiched by a pair of penalties from Mehdi Taremi, the second awarded after Yapp Hung-fai appeared to legally dispossess the striker in the box.

Taremi, on the verge of a transfer from FC Porto to Inter Milan, chipped in a Panenka kick before completing a hat-trick 11 minutes after half-time. But Pinto, released by English League One club Bolton Wanderers, soon fired home to give Hong Kong hope.

Yapp Hung-fai dives to meet Mehdi Taremi in the incident that led to the second penalty. Photo: Sam Tsang

Sardar Azmoun finally killed off the hosts when he escaped the attention of Leon Jones to slip home Iran’s fourth with 25 minutes left.

There were no complaints about the first penalty. Jones, another full Hong Kong debutant, used his arm to block a floated 11th-minute cross from Mehdi Ghayedi. Taremi ignored the howls to place his penalty into the bottom-left corner.

There was a 137-position gulf between the teams in the Fifa world rankings, but after a slow start, the hosts gave as good as they got on a stirring night at Hong Kong Stadium.

They had an early let-off when Helio Goncalves deflected a Taremi strike onto the crossbar. Iran sustained the attack, and Azmoun’s volley had Yapp tumbling to his left to tip behind.

Hong Kong’s anemic opening gave way to a gutsy, ambitious performance, sparked when Tan stole possession on the quarter-hour. The midfielder was allowed to progress down the left and measure a delivery to the near post, where Ma arrived from the opposite flank to steer a finish across goalkeeper Niazmand.

Eastern attacker Ma was so far out of the international reckoning until recently that he did not make the squad for the under-23s’ Asian Games campaign last September.

Yapp needed a strong hand to beat out an effort from Azmoun, but Iran’s discomfort was laid bare when Amin Hazbavi sliced a panicked clearance past a post.

The visitors were given a break, however, when Qasim Matar Al-Hatmi, the referee, awarded a spot-kick for a foul by Yapp. The goalkeeper seemed to make clean contact with the ball as he dived at Taremi’s feet in the 32nd minute, but Hong Kong’s protests were waved away.

Before kick-off, the home fans had hoisted a banner emblazoned with images of Jorn Andersen, accompanied by the words “thank you”, in tribute to the Norwegian, who last week resigned as head coach.

Fans unfurl a banner to thank Jorn Andersen, the former head coach. Photo: Sam Tsang

And their backing created a wall of noise throughout as their team, in keeping with the progress made under Andersen, battled to recover from Taremi’s second penalty. Songs stuck in the throats of most of the 9,992 crowd when the dead-eyed Taremi angled a sidefooted shot into the corner to claim the match ball.

Pinto pounced on ponderous efforts to clear and caressed a first-time left-foot shot inside Niazmand’s right post, but Azmoun extinguished any comeback hopes. This was a night, however, that will be recalled for Luisser’s impressive first audition for the job, and the birth of two new Hong Kong stars.

Iran’s Victory in Ashgabat Secures AFC Asian Cup 2027 Berth

In an intense showdown, Team Melli clinched a crucial 1-0 victory over host nation Turkmenistan in Ashgabat. The lone goal, orchestrated by Mehdi Ghaedi, surged Iran ahead just before halftime, sealing their triumph.

Ghaedi’s decisive strike, facilitated by a well-timed assist, underscored Iran’s resilience and determination on the pitch. With this resounding win, Team Melli not only secured a coveted spot in the finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2027, set to take place in Saudi Arabia but also advanced to the third round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers, alongside Uzbekistan, who narrowly trails on goal difference.

Despite the triumph, the match itself was marked by a lack of fluidity, with both sides struggling to orchestrate cohesive moves. While Iran exhibited marginally better form, missed opportunities plagued their performance, epitomized by Ghaedi’s near miss in the first half from an open goal, courtesy of a precision pass from Taremi. Turkmenistan, on the other hand, failed to mount any significant offensive threats throughout the game.

The subpar quality of the artificial turf emerged as a significant impediment to the players’ performance, with several Iranian players sustaining lacerations on their legs during the course of the match. Critically, questions arose regarding FIFA’s decision to permit international fixtures on such hazardous surfaces, prompting concerns for player safety and well-being.

Despite the challenging conditions, Team Melli showcased their tactical prowess, primarily relying on long-ball strategies to penetrate the opposition’s defense. This approach yielded dividends in the form of Ghaedi’s pivotal goal, emanating from a strategic long pass by Hossein Kananizadega, deftly headed by Taremi to set up the decisive play.

Furthermore, the match witnessed the promising debut of Mohammad Ghorbani, who earned his first cap for the national team, signaling a bright future for Iranian football. Additionally, despite the promise of new players, Shoja Khalilzadeh and Ramin Rezaeian were both in the starting lineup and playing the full 90 minutes.

Taremi: “Iran’s infrastructure deficiency a hurdle to lifting titles”

Iran’s national football team, represented by Mehdi Taremi, the esteemed striker, voiced poignant reflections following their commanding 5-0 triumph over Turkmenistan. Taremi remarked, “We’ve lacked the necessary infrastructure to ascend to championship levels. Iranian football appears to be regressing.”

In the aftermath of their resounding victory, Taremi elaborated on the match’s dynamics, stating, “It was a highly satisfying game. Our performance reflected our ability to create numerous goal-scoring opportunities throughout both halves. We could have easily netted more goals, underscoring our determination to delight our fans.”
Expressing gratitude to the fervent supporters at Azadi Stadium, he added, “The unwavering support from our fans served as a driving force, spurring us to elevate our game.”

Responding to expectations regarding World Cup qualification and progression from the group stages, Taremi adopted a pragmatic outlook, remarking, “In football, especially at this level, nothing is guaranteed. The influx of new players adds complexity to our preparations, presenting formidable challenges. Qualification is a step-by-step process, and our focus remains on delivering our best performances in each game.”

Assuming the role of captain against Turkmenistan, Taremi underscored the team’s collective journey, stating, “We’re a cohesive unit, having embarked on this journey with Team Melli together. As elder statesmen within the team, we aim to foster unity and success, striving to bring joy to our supporters.”

Addressing the inclusion of young talents in the national squad, Taremi acknowledged the inevitable learning curve, noting, “Our young players possess immense potential, albeit with some inconsistencies in training, which is normal. The coaching staff meticulously selects players based on their capabilities, recognizing their potential contributions.”

Reflecting on past disappointments, particularly the AFC Asian Cup 2023 semi-final loss to Qatar, Taremi emphasized a forward-looking mentality, asserting, “I prefer not to dwell on past setbacks. Our focus is solely on upcoming challenges and striving for continuous improvement.”

Expressing gratitude for the robust fan turnout despite adverse weather conditions, Taremi acknowledged the competitive landscape in football, stating, “Today’s matches in the qualifying rounds of FIFA World Cup in Asia, demonstrated the unpredictability of football, even against perceived weaker opponents. We must consistently give our best effort, recognizing the evolving nature of the sport.”

Regarding facilities and support for Iranian football, Taremi highlighted existing shortcomings, stating, “Our facilities have not been conducive to achieving championship glory, contributing to lowered expectations. Sustainable success necessitates more than passion and resilience; it requires structured development, financial backing, and effective administration. We possess the potential; now, we require comprehensive solutions to propel Iranian football to greater heights.”

Why the shortfalls in Team Melli?

It was a difficult win for Team Melli against Syria. We have expected as much from a resolute team with a shrewd Argentine coach who has tons of experience at the international level. Syria performed as expected. Tight and compact defending with an eye on the counterattack against an aging and slow Iranian defense.  

That is exactly what happened in the match. Team Melli had difficulty breaking the Syrian defenses, and when they did, the finishing was poor. The surprise or more precisely, the disappointment was the performance deterioration of the senior players of Team Melli. While there was so much expected of the stars such as Taremi, Ghoddos, Rezaeian, and Azmoun, the return was less than desirable.

Nowadays, it seems that it is anyone’s guess which Team Melli will turn up at a match. They have been inconsistent varying from the embarrassing to excellent. On Wednesday, the match contained all the elements in 180 minutes of play.

It all started brightly and looked promising for Team Melli. The players distributed the ball elegantly, the passing was accurate so was the interplay, they managed to break the Syrian defense several times but poor final ball and finishing was a serious flaw in what was a good first half.

In the first 15 minutes of the second half, it was a repeat of the first until that penalty incident on the hour.

Slowly but surely, the performance deteriorated. Profligate, a touch of arrogance, and a lack of application marred Team Melli’s performance. When simple passing was much more productive than sending the ball across the field when standing your ground during a tackle is more beneficial than diving, and when covering an opponent seems to be basic and more important than going forward and leaving a wide space behind, those were the elementary errors committed by many of the Iranian players.

Beiranvand was the rescuer of the team when he saved a penalty, but he was guilty of a wild unnecessary tackle on the Syrian player during the game. Taremi is a well-known diver. It is his trademark and by doing so in front of an eagle-eyed Korean referee, he got himself into trouble and a yellow card. By the end of the regulation time, that cheating got quite expensive for Team Melli as his holding of the Syrian player to prevent a counterattack, got him the second yellow and was dismissed. Iran was down to 10 players for 10 minutes of added time and the whole of the extra time!

Azmoun looked like a player who was strange to international football. He could not make any of his shots on goal count. When he had the chance (s) it was feeble kicks straight at the Syrian keeper.

Ghoddos who is supposed to be the dynamo of the team was neutralized and failed to offer anything of significance. At times he was seen strolling in the park! Rezaeian, so pacey, so precise in his crosses was error-prone, inaccurate, and at times far too overhyped for nothing.

Khalilzadeh was gallant, but it was his mistake that led to the penalty by Beirnavand who tripped the Syrian Sabbagh.

Ezatollahi, always a weak link in Team Melli, was unconvincing in front of an opponent that lacked firepower. Time and again he lost positions and the one-to-one duels once again showing that this post requires a player several notches above what Ezatollahi is capable of providing. Jahanbakhsh was much better than his last few matches but still failed to make an impact.

Gholizadeh was a revelation but did not last long as the substitute was substituted. Ghalenoei needs to readdress such a futile move.

The fans and critics have the right to wonder, what was going on with Team Melli?

Factually, Iran had more than 70% of the ball in the first half. They were the dominant team, creating chance after chance but the finishing was weak and lacked accuracy and resolve. There is even a hint that the Iranian Players took the Syrians too lightly.

There comes the role of a strong Manager-Coach. Was the team ill-prepared for this match? Was the team’s physiological preparation adequate for such an important clash?

There is a hint from the post-match remarks that Ghaleneoi was less than happy with the player’s attitude and he specifically singled out the senior players without naming them. It was a breath of fresh air for an Iranian coach to spell the beans and criticize the performance of players when they failed to deliver. The usual narrative of “Our players were excellent”, “ it was only bad luck that we lost”, “The referee was against us”, and “the pitch was too rough and the sky was cloudy.” is such a tedious repetition and insult to fans intelligence that no person pays any attention too anymore.

Ghalneoei must be given some credit for that. He should be using the hair-dryer approach against any poorly performing player, even to the extent of benching them. It is about time that such elements be put down in their place.  

We must not forget the role of the local media in the complacency of Team Melli who have never failed to over-hype Team Melli and its players.  Such praises end up fueling players’ arrogance on and off the field. I have heard ridiculous claims on TV and read much such nonsense in the press glorifying Team Melli. The little true journalism that is published, the ones that truly reflect the status of the team is buried under the huge piles of praise and glory for Team Melli and derision and belittling of opponents. The biggest example was the CAFA league which exposed this mentality.

All that does not mean that Team Melli is bad, in fact, it is still a force to reckon with in Asia. Japan will be a great test of character for all involved. In two days, not much can be mended, however, a good serious talk and a few tactical adjustments will do a world of good for the squad. In Taremi’s absence, perhaps a major tactical change is required. This time, there is no fear of undermining the opponent as the players and the managers all know that they are facing a mighty team, admittedly better than Team Melli in many departments.