Tag: Mohammad Mayeli-Kohan

Iran vs Qatar: Head-to-Head

The records show Iran’s clear superiority in all competitions and friendly matches against Qatar. Only 3 defeats in 25 and just one of these defeats was in an official game during Mayeli-Kohan’s coaching. The last meeting was in October last year in Amman, Jordan when Tea Melli defeated Qatar, where the former Team Melli coach Carlos Queiroz was the head coach, 4-0.

Home862019 – 4+15
Away1593318 – 12+6
Neutral22006 – 1+5
Total25175343 – 17+26

DATEAttendanceVENUESCORESTADIUMAzadi Stadium, Tehran
17.10.2023Jordan 4 asideN4 – 0Amman international stadium1,500
31.12.2018FriendlyA2 – 1Khalifa Stadium, Doha50
23.03.2017World Cup QualifierA1 – 0Jassim bin Hamad, Doha
01.09.2016World Cup QualifierH2 – 0Azadi Stadium, Tehran80,000
15.01.2015Asian Cup / Group ‘C’H1 – 0Stadium Australia – Sydney22,673
04.06.2013World Cup QualifierA1 – 0Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium , Doha11,872
12.06.2012World Cup Qualifier / Round 4H0 – 0Azadi Stadium, Tehran80,000
29.02.2012World Cup Qualifier / Round 3 – Group EH2 – 2Azadi Stadium , Tehran55,000
06.09.2011World Cup Qualifier / Round 3 – Group EA1 – 1Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium , Doha8,125
28.12.2010FriendlyA0 – 0Khalifa Stadium, Doha3,000
28.12.2009Friendly / Qatar Intl. Friendly TournamentA2 – 3Suhaim Bin Hamad-Doha Qatar Stadium3,000
09.11.2008FriendlyA1 – 0Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium , Doha5,000
11.08.2008WAFFH6 – 1Khalifa Stadium, Doha5,000
10.01.2008FriendlyA0 – 0Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium , Doha2,000
24.03.2007Friendly / FriendlyA1 – 0Thani bin Jassim Stadium, Doha7,000
13.10.2004World Cup Qualifier / WCQA3 – 2Thani bin Jassim Stadium, Doha3,000
18.02.2004World Cup Qualifier / WCQH3 – 1Azadi Stadium, Tehran45,000
08.04.2002Others / WAGN2 – 1Al Qadisiya Stadium, Kuwait City
01.08.2001Friendly / FriendlyA1 – 2Khalifa International Stadium, Doha3,000
27.09.2000FriendlyA2 – 1Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium , Doha5,000
07.11.1997World Cup Qualifier / WCQA0 – 2Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium , Doha20,000
03.10.1997World Cup Qualifier / WCQH3 – 0Azadi Stadium, Tehran70,000
01.06.1996Friendly / FriendlyA1 – 0Hamad bin Khalifa Stadium, Doha10,000
17.05.1996FriendlyH2 – 0Takhti Stadium , Tabriz30,000
02.12.1988Asian Cup / Group 1A2 – 0Hamad bin Khalifa Stadium , DohaAzadi Stadium, Tehran

Down memory lane: Bitter defeats of World Cup 1994 qualifiers

Iran’s football history is full of glories and honors almost all of it was in the pre-revolution era. Achievements such as winning the Asian Cup three times in a row have never been repeated by any team thus far.

The beginning of those glories started way back in 1964 when Iran made it to the Olympics Games Tokyo. In 1966 a younger Team Melli won the silver medal of the Asian Games in Bangkok, while at home, Iran won its first-ever Asian title when Hassan Habibi lifted the trophy in Amjadieh after they defeated Israel 2-1.

That was the beginning of the golden age of Iranian football in 1968. In 1972 Iran successfully defended its Asian Cup title in Thailand while the same year, it qualified for the Olympic Games in Munich. Iran won the Asian Games football gold medal for the first time in 1974. Two years later 1976 was another glory year for Team Melli with double achievements, winning the Asian Cup for the third time and qualifying for the Montreal Olympics. Iran also made it to the quarter-finals for the first time.

Team Melli led by the legendary Iranian coach Heshmat Mohajerani qualified for the Argentina World Cup in 1978. It was the perfect icing on the cake for a decade of glorious years of football. Then came the revolution and political upheaval that disrupted the whole society and disturbed the exceptional progress of Iran’s football. The glory days were never to come back.

However, twelve years into the revolution with Team Melli completely devoid of any success, Ali Parvin lead a young side to win the Asian Games 1990 gold medal. It was hoped that this was the omen and the glory days are surely coming back.

While Team Melli struggled for success, there were still some good moments to be proud of the team and a few bad moments. There were some bitter defeats during the 1990s however, one particular period is considered by many as the worst performance of Team Melli ever.

This happened at the Asian Zone equalization for the FIFA World Cup 1994.

in October 1993, the qualification matches for FIFA World Cup USA 1994  were held in Doha, Qatar. Iran, while missing several key players such as Kermani Moghadam, Farshad Pious, and Mojtaba Moharrami due to suspension and Ahmad Abedzadeh due to injury headed to Doha. The squad was lead by Ali Parvin but internal politics and wide disputes prevented the team to properly prepare for those qualifications rounds. The team did not have and friendly preparation matches and the camp was disrupted by internal disagreements.

The result of an ill-prepared team marred by dispute and disharmony was exposed quite early in the competition when Team Melli was beaten comprehensively by South Korea 3-0.

The aftermath of this heavy defeat disrupted the squad even more and its effect also lead to calls for change in Iran’s coaching team, back home. is loss had very bad consequences for Iran’s football, According to some squad members, after this game in the locker room and later at a hotel where the team was accommodated there were many disputes between the players and the coaches and it escalated to the point that some players wanted to leave the camp.

The federation officials came to the rescue and with a mixture of promises and threats, they managed to cool the situation until these qualifiers are concluded.

In the second game, Iran defeated Japan 2-1, to ease the pressure on Parvin. The third game was crucial for Iran who needed a win to stay in the competition for a place in the World Cup. They were facing Iraq. Despite a hard-fought game the match ended with Iraq winning 2-1.

In the fourth match, another good win against North Korea 2-1 boosted the morale of the squad ahead of the final game against Saudi Arabia.

That match was a game-changer in Iran’s football history. Team Melli, clearly lacking a proper game plan and mostly depending on direct football, lost in a seven-goal thriller. It was clear that the team was commanded to go for it and score as many goals, leaving the defense exposed and in the process conceding 4 goals.  Iran lost 4-3 to Saudi Arabia, the team was eliminated from the World Cup and failed to achieve what the coaching staff promised while it was ranked fifth among 6 countries.

Team Pts Pld W D L GF GA GD
 Saudi Arabia 7 5 2 3 0 8 6 2
 South Korea 6 5 2 2 1 9 4 5
 Japan 6 5 2 2 1 7 4 3
 Iraq 5 5 1 3 1 9 9 0
 Iran 4 5 2 0 3 8 11 -3
 North Korea 2 5 1 0 4 5 12 -7

Saudi Arabia took first place with its 4-3 victory over Iran. Japan and South Korea were even on points, but South Korea held the goal difference advantage after the 3-goal victory over North Korea and won the tiebreaker.

After the return of Team Melli to Tehran, Parvin was the target of the wrath of the fans. It all started from Mehrabad airport where mobs shouted profanity and accusation of treason and it continued all the way to his home, despite police protection. The protests against him did not stop either as they continued wherever he went.

Parvin had warned many times in the months before the qualifiers in Qatar that the national team had problems (problems with the preparation game, players, finances, etc.). However, those words were of very little use as after a few days, the whole of Team Melli coaching staff including Head Coach Ali Parvin, Nasser Ebrahimi, Amir haj-Rezaei Kumasi, and Mohammad Maeli-Kohan, were fired.

That was not the end of that either. As the consequences of the defeat in Qatar continued until Safizadeh, the president of the Football Federation, and Hassan Ghafouri Fard, the head of the Physical Education Organization, were also relieved from their duties as they were singled out as accountable for these bad results.

Mayeli Kohan attacks FFIRI

Former Team Melli coach Mohammad Mayeli Kohan an outspoken critic of the football establishment in Iran and the corruption surrounding clubs and federations affair has criticized the head of Iran Football Federation Mehdi Taj, saying the federation needs an anti-nepotism policy.

Taj is under pressure for Team Melli’s current position in the table of the FIFA Qualifying rounds in Group C, as Iran sits third up four points adrift of Iraq. Such a situation is a rarity for Team Melli in its qualifying records.

Last week, the contract’s details of Marc Wilmots and his coaching staff with Iran national football team were disclosed. Media reports suggest that the Belgian has agreed to earn an annual salary of USD 3.6 million, however, the Iranian federation had announced that it will pay him and his assistants USD 1.2 million!!

Wilmots replaced Carlos Queiroz as Iran coach but has failed to meet expectations so far.

“I think it’s not Wilmots’s fault but Taj is to be blamed for the situation. Taj, as the person who sits on top of the pyramid, is responsible for what happened,” Mayeli Kohan said in an interview with ISNA.

“Taj has perpetually displayed a lack of knowledge in football over the past few years. His deputy Mohammadreza Saket really doesn’t belong there, too.”

The former Perseplois player and coach added that no matter how much criticism is directed at the football establishment, the bosses do what they want to do and continue on their erroneous ways with impunity and serious lack of questioning and oversight.

Mayeli Kohan replaced Stanko Poklepović in 1995 and led Team Melli in 1996 AFC Asian Cup, where the Persians ranked in third place.

Torrid decline of U23 team no thanks to incompetent FFIRI selections.

FFIRI has an incredible knack for rewarding failures. It is something that Mehdi Taj and his predecessor Ali Kaffashian has exceled in and the Iranian football community are getting used to.  Both of these men, who have been leading the Iranian federation since 2008 , have a serious lack of picking winners while selecting staff to work for them be it on the playing fields as coaches or in the corridors of power as administrators. In Iran’s football federation, administrators and coaches do not last long, because they fail to succeed due to the pathetic selection process.

Amir Hossein Peyrovani is a classic example of FFIRI appalling policy of Mehdi Taj and his failure to pick and appoint the right person for the job. After taking Team Melli U20 to the FIFA U20 championship, the mediocre coach, who struggled to find a coaching job even at lower divisions clubs in Iran, failed miserably in dealing with the world’s top age group teams.

Iran’s U20 team was in fact one of the most promising and talented age group team of the last couple of decades. There was abundance of talents, however, tactical naivety, lack of pedigree in coaching and failure to read the game have all combined to knock Iran out of championship in the group stages. Iran U20 ended up as the bottom team of the group. The irony of this championship is that Iran U20 was scored first in all the matches and was 2 goals up against Zambia before losing 2-4.

Not convinced with the fact that FIFA U20 performance and result was a failure, Peyrovani was once again coaching but now at a higher level. Acute lack of appraisal and performance analysis system in the Iranian federation, living in denials and the relegating FFIRI’s technical committee (no thanks to Carlos Queiroz), has allowed Mehdi Taj to act and repeat the same error. In his questionable wisdom the head of the FFIRI chose Peyrovani to take the helm of the U23 team to the AFC qualifiers. Apart from a few sporadic mumbles, this appointment was surprisingly accepted by all stakeholders and the media. No one dared or bothered to question this appointment for such an important age group team, the de facto backbone of Team Melli!

Not surprising at all, that Peyrovani failed again at a much lower level of competition. Not in the FIFA U20 final but at a group qualifiers against the likes of Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan and Oman. Sri Lanka withdrew and so the group consisted of 3 teams only.  Iran’s first match against the host ended in a very difficult narrow 2-1 win but the Omani’s managed to easily defeat Iran 2-0 to shatter the dream of yet another significantly talented Iranian team. A team victimized by the acute deficiency and incompetence of Iranian football management.

It is still an enigma why Iran cannot produce quality football administrators, managers and coaches as good as they produce players. Apart from one Iranian in Kambiz Atabay back in the mid 70’s  , who headed the Asian Football Confederation , Iran has not managed to produce a competent administrator worthy of consideration for top administration jobs in AFC or FIFA. Tiny countries such as Bahrain, Sri Lanka , and Singapore had more officials in the AFC than mighty Iran.

Worst still , is the record of Iranian coaches in Asia. Even the best of Iran’s national coaches have failed to pass the group stages of AFC Champions league or at best the quarter finals of Asian Cup , in the post revolutions era.

The legendary Heshmat Mohajerani is the last of the Iranian great coaches. It seems that the wait is much longer for a quality coach to appear in Iran.

The other sad news is the remarkable decline of Iran U23 teams. From winners of the Asian Games coached by Branko Ivankovic , to struggling to make the finals stages.

Iran U23 Team coaches


 Winners and losers

What is Queiroz’s real problem?

[column size=”1/2″] The controversial Portuguese has been hitting the headline lately with some provocative and to many, some offensive statements.  “Team Melli ship is sinking “ that is how he described a team which just hit 9 goals in 2 international friendly matches this week three of them against a European opposition.

For that statement alone, Queiroz must have lost quite a few friends and the paltry number that showed up in Azadi on Tuesday against Kyrgyzstan is a testament of his popularity. His last statement in an interview given to Radio Varzesh has not been received too favorably in the press even amongst his allies and suitors.  
What is behind the continuous nagging and rhetoric of Queiroz i? What is the real story ?
Does Queiroz think that his “Lack of resources” pretexts are sold so easily on the masses? No one in the history of Team Melli coaching , including expatriates such as the long serving Branko Ivankovic, has received so much funding as him and during his reign. Facts and figures are evidence of that.  The local Team Melli Iranian coaches like Daei and Ghalenoei would have dreamed of the type of support this Queiroz has been receiving.
Not that Queiroz is wrong in demanding the best for Team Melli, but the fact remains that this is the type of structure and management that administers football in Iran always had and nothing will dramatically improve real soon. Only the naïve will believe that Mehdi Taj, with all the good intents, will revolutionize the football in Iran. Queiroz is much savvy and clever to believe all the promises that Taj has given him lately.
If Queiroz is not complaining about lack of funds and resources, he usually gets embroiled in verbal battle and assault with someone.  It could be the VP of the FFIRI, another coach, a Lady administrator, the Director of Azadi stadium, journalist, TV reporter and the list goes on. He has no respect for his position nor does he care much about the slander and defamation laws of the country either. That seems to be strange since another famous antagonist, whose tongue slashing is legendary, was jailed recently after a court case where the judge found him guilty of defamation and contempt. That is the famous Daei vs. Mayeli-Kohan case. Queiroz is so far has a diplomatic immunity and can say whatever he likes.

[column size=”1/2″] It seems that no one is immune from the Portuguese wrath, including Minister of Sport and his associates!
It is possible that many punters believe him and support his cause, but behind all this belies a fact or two  that needs a careful scrutiny.
Known Fact one: Carlos Queiroz does NOT want to continue working with Team Melli and working in Iran. Proof and evidence: he has submitted his resignation, which was rejected as he is bound by a contractual obligation. Queiroz is also known for his continual absent from Iran on holiday or assignment abroad.
What are the reasons for Queiroz’s lack of enthusiasm for Team Melli? Only Queiroz himself knows but it could anything of these, lucrative offers from other countries, a new challenge needed, lack of riches in Iran, lack of total and absolute support, difficulty adjusting to Iranian social life, and/or doubt in the fortunes of Team Melli as evident from his notorious quote “Team Melli ship is sinking”
Known Fact two: with the renewal of his contract after the last World Cup, Queiroz must serve the period or pay penalties if he opts out. The quickest way and the most profitable for him is to get the sack. Not only the FFIRI has to pay the severance amount, they have to pay him until the remaining of the contract. It is in the millions of US$ and FFIRI is certainly not willing perhaps incapable of raising that money.
As such, Queiroz rhetoric will continue while Taj and Kaffashian will set suffering the embarrassment of the old moaning Portuguese. Kaffashian , incidentally , still has a plenty of major roles in FFIRI although he is officially only the Deputy for Taj.
It is a pitiful situation for a team that has been sitting at the top of Asian FIFA ranking for over two years. A team, although failed to win any trophies, managed to qualify for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil and has a big chance of repeating it again. A team that has played some good matches, beautiful football and defeated Chile, the Copa America Champions. A team that has only lost once in that period against Sweden, scored 48 goals in 19 matches since January 2015 and has a winning percentage of 73.7% in all competitions
Unless there is an intentional sabotage brewing within Team Melli, we have a strong belief that this team with a set of young talented players mixed with experienced campaigners has plenty of potential and can make it to the World Cup. This is hardly a sign of a team sinking.

Khakpour announces Omid Team plans.

Mohammad Khakpour, Iran’s U23 (Omid) coach announced his plans for the team from now until January 2016, when Iran will join 15 other finalist in a tough battle to qualify for the Rio De Janeiro Olympics football competition. The final rounds of the qualification for Rio Olympics will be held in Doha, Qatar.

In his briefing with the sport journalist, Khakpour express his gratitude to the clubs who helped the case of Omid team with their timely release of the players for the inaugural WAFF U23 tournament. Khakpour was over joyed by the results achieved in this first tournament of its kind, where Iran’ U23 won the title defeating Syria 2-0 in the final.

“The first order of business in to set up a short camp in UAE, were we were hoping to play against Iraq and Australia. The latter match is 100% confirmed but the Iraq match is yet to be finalized” Khakpour said. “After that we will be going to Turkey foe another short camp followed by a local camp either in Kish Island or in Khuzistan (Ahvaz). We hope that by that time , we will have all our players available for the best preparation of the squad.” Khakpour continued.

The reporters then quizzed Khakpour on several topics including the readiness of  Arya Hashemi. Khakpour said that this player will not be fit on time to join the team.

About Iran’s prospect for qualifying to that eluded prize of Olympic Games, Khakpour responded “We should be under no illusion that qualifying to the next round from the group is not an easy task at all. Qatar is the host, China is one of the strongest teams in Asia at that age level, and we have all seen Syria play against us with strength and skill. So, it is not going to be an easy task, but we are not going there to surrender either.”


About his abrupt resignation after winning the WAFF U23 tournament, Mohammad Khakpour admitted his mistake as he particularly apologized for Mohammad Mayeli-Kohan and Habib Kashani for this hasty move. “Both these gentlemen put a lot of faith in me and I let them down. I like to sincerely apologize to them and also to my compatriots for such an act and admit that it was out of emotions and not rational.”  the Iranian U23 team coach said. Khakpour also apologized for the media in an unprecedented move!  As such , this is a rare occasion that an Iranian coach admits his fault and apologized for it. So, there is still hope left in Iranian coaches!

The head coach of U23 team however, did not conceal his disappointment with Ali Kaffashian and the general lack of support for Omid Team from the federation. Khakpour said that the main reason for his resignation was the one-sided contract that he was offered in which he was held accountable for everything , while it hardly mentioned anything about the federations responsibilities.

2016 AFC U-23 Championship

Qualified teams

The following 16 teams qualified for the final tournament

Team Qualified as Appearance Previous best performance
 Qatar Hosts 1st Debut
 Iraq Group A winners 2nd Champions (2013)
 Jordan Group B winners 2nd Third place (2013)
 Saudi Arabia Group C winners 2nd Runners-up (2013)
 United Arab Emirates Group D winners 2nd Quarter-finals (2013)
 Syria Group E winners 2nd Quarter-finals (2013)
 Australia Group F winners 2nd Quarter-finals (2013)
 North Korea Group G winners 2nd Group stage (2013)
 South Korea Group H winners 2nd Fourth place (2013)
 Japan Group I winners 2nd Quarter-finals (2013)
 China PR Group J winners 2nd Group stage (2013)
 Thailand 1st best runners-up (Group G) 1st Debut
 Iran 2nd best runners-up (Group C) 2nd Group stage (2013)
 Vietnam 3rd best runners-up (Group I) 1st Debut
 Yemen 4th best runners-up (Group D) 2nd Group stage (2013)
 Uzbekistan 5th best runners-up (Group E) 2nd Group stage (2013)

[divider size=”5″ margin=”20″]

12 January 2016
Syria  v  Iran
12 January 2016
Qatar  v  China PR

15 January 2016
China PR  v  Syria
15 January 2016
Iran  v  Qatar

18 January 2016
Qatar  v  Syria
18 January 2016
Iran  v  China PR


Kaffashian confirms AFC sanction against Khakpour.

Ali Kaffashian who has attended the first New AFC Executive committee meeting in Manama, Bahrain confirmed in an interview that the AFC technical Committee does not recognize Mohammad Khakpour as a qualified trainer/coach for Iran’s U-23 team.

Khakpour , with little if any coaching experience at top level football was surprisingly selected to replace Nelo Vingada the coach of Iran’s U23 team or the Olympics team. This was carried out shortly after the disastrous exit of the U-23 team in the Asian games, one of the worst defeats of an Iranian representative team in the history. Widespread condemnations from the media, fans and experts, forced Kaffashian to react to save this team which was supposed to qualify for the Olympics Games in Rio. However, the man who is world famous for his grin and cool demeanor, acted hastily in an attempt to quell what was now some strong disapproval within the federation as well.

The selection of Mohammad Khakpour ahead of many qualified, more experienced and more competent coaches, domestic or foreign shocked many. In essence, FFIRI under Kaffashian could not have done any worse than such a move. To put icing on the cake, Habib Kashani and Mohammad Mayeli-Kohan were also appointed as managers in different capacities for the U23 team.

kaffashian salman alkhalifa24028

So, It was not very surprising nor very long before the fans experienced the result in such incompetency. Iran U23 lost against arch rivals Saudi Arabia in Tehran, in the penultimate game of the Asian Qualifiers for the Rio Olympic Games 2016. Iran was hosting the group but could not qualify directly to the next stage. Complete failure and elimination from the first step was avoided by the virtue of qualification to the final rounds as one of the best 5 groups runner ups. The final rounds of qualifications will be held in Qatar on January 2016.

The AFC came into the picture after examining the coaching certificates of Khakpour and found it below the minimum required to coach the U23 team. Khakpour has a coaching certificate in USA not recognized by FIFA or AFC. As such Mohammad Khakpour is not allowed to coach this team unless he attends a proper FIFA or AFC coaching course and passes the required tests.

Kaffashian’s attempt to dodge the issue of proper qualification of coaches mandated by FIFA and AFC resulted in a meeting with the Asian Technical Director Andy Roxburgh. The Scottish coach has been recently appointed in order to enhance Asian coaches education and player development.

Kaffashian, a Vice-President of AFC, failed to present a solid case for Khakpour’s appointment and could not respond to why his Khakpour’s credentials were not checked according to the AFC regulations. The verdict was clear and it stood as is. If Khakpour does not attend the proper certified AFC or FIFA coaching courses, he will be banned from sitting on the bench of Iran’s U23 team during official competitions.

True to his style, Kaffashian attempting to relegate the issue , said that the U23 team has no official activities or commitment until January 2016, so, they do not need to get all hyped up about it!

Of course, there is no mention by Kaffashian on accountability and responsibility of such an appointment or debacle, to be more precise.

New Omid Team list announced

The Football federation announced the name of the new Omid Team that will set up camp in Kish Island as part of the long-term program. The team will be participating on several tournaments with the ultimate goal of qualifying to the Rio Olympic games 2016.

The team is under the management of Mohammad Mayeli-Kohan and coached by Mohammad Khakpour.

The federation is actively trying to include some of the Legionnaire players like Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh, however , it is unlikely that the clubs will be releasing them anytime soon.

The Squad list

Naft Tehran

  • Arsalan Motahari, Arash Rezavand & Ali Mohsenzadeh

Saipa Alborz

  • Mehdi Torabi, Bahman Salary & MohammadReza Akhbari

Sepahan Esfahan

  • Ali Karimi, Hossein Fazeli & Mohammad Hossein Moradmand



  • Behnam Barzay & Majid Hosseini

Foolad Khuzestan

  • Yusuf Vakya & Bahman  Jahan Tigh


  • Milad Kamandani & Ahmad Nourollahi

Rah Ahan

  • Amir Abedzadeh & Milad Mohammadi

Sanat Naft Abadan

  • Mohammad Zubair Niknafs & Ali Abdollahzadeh

Zob Ahan

Ehsan Pahlavan & Saeb Mohebbi

Aluminum Hormozgan

  • Iman Salimi

Fajr Sepasi

  • Farshid Ismaili

Gostarish Foolad

  •  AliReza Naghizadh

Malavan Anzali

  • Hossein Kanani Zadegan

Naft Masjidl Solaiman

  • Goudarz Davoudi

Padideh Mashad

  • MohammadAli  Framarzi


  • Vahid Haideriyah

Saba Qom

  • Rozbeh Chashmi

Tractorsazi Tabriz

  • Shahin Saghebi

The saga of Omid Team.

Iranian football , has experienced some very odd proceedings in the last few years the like of it you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Despite being arguably the most popular sport  in the country , the administration of football at Football federation and club levels have remarkably deficient and lacking professionalism and effectiveness. Discrepancies, inconsistencies and contradiction are so common and rife to a level that it is becoming an accepted norm!

Iran’s Football , is the biggest victim.

One of the hottest topics after Carlos Queiroz and Team Melli nowadays is the fate of Omid Team. The U-23 team which is also called the Olympics Team was considered as a top priority by Kaffashian and his administration. The federation declared that the target is qualification for the Rio Olympic games of 2016 and for that purpose , a large budget was allocated and an action plan was engaged.

Naturally, the FFIRI looked for the best coach they can find and afford. On the face of it , Kaffashian with the help of Queiroz found the perfect candidate in Nelo Vingada. The Portuguese had a wealth of experience in football including winning the FIFA Youth World Cup twice as assistant to Queiroz himself. Vingada has also worked in Iran beforehand , hence he had a good background on how things work.

Everything was going perfectly according to plan, including training camps inside and outside of the country that even exceeded the ones given to Team Melli.

And then disaster struck…

The team , in its first official mission , experienced one of worst results ever by an Iranian National team  when it was defeated by Vietnam and drew with Kyrgyzstan to be eliminated from the group levels of Asian Games 2014. The tragedy was intensified by the fact that a large number of highly quality Iranian players and stars of their own right, were members of this team.

Nobody could figure out what really went wrong, while the FFIRI in its usual style issued a quiet apology and without any investigation, any accountability and any identification of those who were at fault ,  carried on as if nothing has happened.  For Kaffashian, life goes on!. Unsurprisingly, FFIRI wanted to brush the issue under the carpet , however forces beyond FFIRI started asking questions and demanded to know how all those hard earned  millions has been wasted and who is accountable for it. Amongst the people who demanded answers were several members of the Parliament.

Kaffashian , finding himelf cornered , had to respond and act and. The end result of the Asian Games Mayhem was the eventual departure of Vingada and the practical disassembling of the whole U 23 team.

Fighting against time, FFIRI was urgently seeking a replacement for Vingada. Looking for a coach who can take Iran to the Olympics for the first time in 40 years. With the expectations so high and urgency creating a stressful atmosphere, a tremor hits the core of Iran’s football ,  when Kaffashian announced the name of the new coach.

Mohammad Khakpour , an uninspiring , inexperienced and unfamiliar coach was picked to lead Iran for this task. Khakpour , a former Team Melli player, but never a household name nor and exceptional player. Spend most of his time in USA after retiring. He obtained   his coaching liscence in the States where he worked as coaching kids. Khakpour’s CV , does not have a single high profile club or national team. The only club he managed briefly was Steel Azin and then an assistant to Mayeli-Kohan , again briefly , in Foolad Khuzestan.


Between the selection of Nelo Vingada , whose resume says he started his coaching in 1981 and has 33 years’ worth of experience in coaching achieving several championships in different countries, and a lackluster rookie coach , with a few months experienced in a doomed club , there is a fundamental discrepancy bordering a comic act.  There were several immediate calls for him to be sacked as the job is way beyond his capability, but Khakpour himself was adamant that he iscapable  experienced enough to do the job!

Now, after a few months in the job and following the appointment of Mohammad Mayeli Kohan who walked out of Evin prison to be chosen as the Manager of Omid Team, Khakpour has become brash. After more training camps and playing of several friendly matches , the beleaguered Khakpour has the audacity to tell the media that their expectation for qualification to the Olympics is way too optimistic and unjustified !!.

“After 40 years of not being able to make it to the Olympics, do you think that I can do it in 4 months in the job?” Khakpour told the media recently.

A quote that sums up the quality of the man and reflects quite badly on Iranian coaches in general.  No wonder why the fans have lost much trust in Iranian coaches.

Thus , another bizarre event  of Iranian football is brewing.

“Queiroz support has turned into a theatrical show ” Amir Ghalenoei .

Amir Ghalenoei once again invigorated his clash with Carlos Queiroz and accused the Portuguese coach suitors of turning a national mayhem after the defeat against Iraq into a patriotic triumph by manipulating the Iranian people’s fervor for Team Melli.

“It was all a big show. I swear that all this was orchestrated and arranged by people whose interest and livelihood are depended on Queiroz being the coach of Team Melli. Nothing like what we have experienced recently has been seen in Iran football before. No Team Melli coach had been spared the wrath of the media and had so much support after defeat in the Asian Cup. Queiroz lost to Iraq but his supporters are turning this defeat into a victory similar to when our team hit six goals past the mighty South Koreans in Asian Cup 1996!”

Mehrdad Pouladi heads the ball during a group F World Cup soccer match between Bosnia and Iran at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador

Ghalenoei and Queiroz have been entangled in a war of word for nearly two seasons. There is no love lost between the two with accusations and counter accusation becoming a routine and regular event. Neither of the two is willing to put a cap on it.

“These people, the ones who profit from Quieroz, have an agenda and have set a careful program. Every time there is something negative happening to Team Melli, they act. This Team Melli which had the highest budget allocated to it in the history of our Football gets beaten by the weakest and the most ill prepared Iraqi team with the lowest possible budget, so ,  his cohorts get into action with their goodies and start their campaign of support. If Carlos Queiroz is a great coach, why does he need a telephone poll to prove it?  He should prove his worth in the football field and start bringing trophies. They push Team Melli players into the media directing them to say that Queiroz must stay to the extent that some spell doom and gloom for our football if Queiroz leaves! You don’t have to believe me, go and do some research and then come back and tell me if I am wrong.” Esteghlal’s head coach told the media in the pre-match press conference before his team match against Peykan on Sunday.


Queiroz was not the only recipient of Ghalenoei’s strong words, as the fiery Esteghlal coach gave Fereydoon Moeini , an ex-Team Melli player and a member of the feeble and benign Technical Committee of the FFIRI, a piece of his mind.

“This Mr. Fereydoon Moeni, and without much thought , comes up and claims that Queiroz is  the only coach in the history who gave young players the chance to play in Team Melli! Where were you when Mayeli-Kohan, Ali Daei , Ghotbi and me introduce so many new players to Team Melli? Where were when I was the coach of Team Melli and created a brand new team that actually won a title for Iran? I have no issues with anyone who wants to support Queiroz , but don’t lie to people , don’t fabricate or twist facts to turn it to his benefit. Don’t insult the rest of Iranian coaches to elevate this man, you are insulting a nation.”

And the war of words continues an abated.