Tag: Morteza Pouraliganji

Gaps in Team Melli, Queiroz in battle with time to rectify.

After two quite useful matches for Team Melli, Carlos Queiroz has realized the magnitude of his mission in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in order to qualify Iran for the next round for the first time in history.

Team Melli’s results against Uruguay and Senegal were excellent but that cannot be said about the performance. In fact, Iran was lucky that the Sengalese players forgot their shooting boots at the hotel. The African Champions players easily bypassed Iran’s midfield and tested the defensive line, however, their final balls were mostly wayward. The ease with which the Senegal players passed the Iranians would definitely worry Queiroz’s team in the World Cup.

The gaps specifically at the midfield despite fielding four defensive players were apparent. It took some heroics from Hosseini in the goal, Kanani and Majid Hosseini in the center plus Sadegh Moharrami to minimize the damage. Ehsan Hajsafi, on the other hand, is a serious liability as a left-back despite him providing an excellent assist for Sardar Azmoun. Of course, Iran must also thank the Senegalese players who kept aiming at the sky in their final balls.

The onus is on Queiroz to get his ideal formation in the defense and midfield, but as we all know he is battling against time and no more opportunity for training or friendly matches. What we saw in Austria is probably the formation in which Queiroz will line up the team. All the work that the head coach needs to conduct for the improvement and tightening of the team will be on paper. Observations of the domestic league players and the legionnaires should also help, except that most of Team Melli players are bench warmers in their European clubs.

Team Melli’s strongest line is the forward line, where Queiroz need not worry much, but with names like Azmoun and Taremi up front, they need to be fed with proper balls to finish them in the back of the net. In both the matches in the Austrian camp, the service was sub-standard and rare. Kudos to the two forwards for turning those chances into goals.

Without a good defensive structure, Iran will struggle in the World Cup as players like Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Gareth Bale, and Christian Pulisic can take advantage of these defensive gaps to hurt Iran. In any case, it is the Queiroz style to press and defend tightly while depending on quick counterattacks for scoring.



Seyed Hossein HOSSEINI: One of the best players on the field with his good saves and confident handling of the ball [8.5] 
Majid HOSSEINI: started well and created a good partnership with Kanani. He has his shortcoming though and could be passed at ease at times. [6.7]
Hossein KANANI-ZADEGAN: Majestic performance from a solid defender who hardly put a foot wrong and was quite confident against Saido mane. He only played one half but it was easy to convince Queiroz that he is becoming an indispensable player in the team [8.8]
Sadegh MOHARRAMI: Yet another good performance from Moharerami to solidify his claim for the right-back position. Under Queiroz’s game plan, he can be the winger that can be effective in quick counterattacks. [8.3]
Saeid EZZATOLLAHI: Lack of top-level football is adversely affecting him and it was obvious that at big games he is found wanting. His physique is quite important for the team but really needs to work on passing skills and game reading [6.5]
Ahmad NOUROLLAHI: At times he was lost among the better opposition players. He tried matching the Senegalese midfield but lacked the capability to win balls or provide effective passes for the forwards [6.7]
Milad SARLAK:  Industrious and hardworking player whose role in Queiroz’s game plan is to form a defensive line in front of the central defenders. Mixed success but a player who can be also used in defense too. [6.9]
Ali GHOLIZADEH: The player has good dribbling skills and can be vital for the rare offensive moves in Team Melli. However, his final balls and passes leave a lot to be desired. Still has not reached his potential and his small physique could be a liability against big teams. [6.7]
Ehsan HAJSAFI: Operated as a left back and he was a liability. Easily dribbled , poor positional awareness and poor coverage marred his performance. His assist, however, plus a goal-line clearance gives him more rating than he may not deserve. [7.2]
Mehdi TAREMI: Did not get proper service and hence he was ineffective. Still tries to fake and falls proving that his ill-repute in Portugal is not unwarranted. Another player that can be a savior for Team Melli despite all the controversy around him. His lack of pace is worrying though [6.9]
Karim ANSARIFARD: A player who seems content with turning up it seems. Not effective in this match and was disconnected from his teammate Taremi up front [6.2]


Morteza POURALIGANJI: Unfortunate to concede the goal but overall he was a solid player and tackled well. [7.0]
Saman GHODDOS: At his best Ghoddos can be a real asset for Team Melli with his passes and vision. He was not given breathing space by the Senegalese players and that is where many Iranian players fail against hard-pressing teams. [6.8]
Omid EBRAHIMI: A hard-working midfielder who is tireless and fighting for every ball. He was overwhelmed in this match and was hardly in the game. [6.5]
Alireza JAHANBAKHSH: vitalized the team on his appearance as a sub. At times he was double-teamed and the Senegalese defenders knew how to curtail his threat. [7.2]
Sardar AZMOUN: A quality forward needs half a chance to score and that is what Azmoun did when he provided a quality cross. His jump for the Hajsafy’s perfect cross was majestic. [8.9]



Team Melli draws away to Korea Rep.

South Korea and Iran played a 1-1 draw in the Seoul World Cup Stadium in an international friendly on Tuesday in front of a full capacity ground. The host opened the scoring when their leading scorer Hwang Woo-Sung took full advantage of a mix up between Team Melli’s defenders to lob the advancing Beiranvand on the 57th minute, but Iran soon responded when a corner kick by Rezaeian was met by Pouraliganji who scrambled the ball to hit Korean defender Kim Young-Gwon  and end up in the back of the net.

The action-packed match was entertaining from the start as both teams were geared for attack, and in the process, leaving both defenses vulnerable to counters. The host took the initiative against Iran at the start of the first half. Lee Jae-sung attempted a sharp left-foot cross on the right side in the sixth minutes but the Korean forwards could not take advantage. In the 7th minute, Hwang In-Beom’s right-footed shot from the left of the box was blocked by a defensive wall.

In the first 15 minutes, the Koreans had a slight edge but stubborn Iran defense and a steady goalkeeping by Beiranvand , spoiled every Korean ambition. Lack of real threat by the Koreans emboldened Iran to attack and go forward

Iran finished a good set of passes with a medium-range shot from Fullback Rezaeian in front of the box in the 14th minute. In the 17th minute, Rezaeian’s crossed inside the box, but Hajsafy attempted left-footed shot was blocked. Twenty minutes into the match, Torabi’s right-footed shot from the inside of the box led to a sharp trajectory but missed the goal by inches.

Both teams played a fierce battle to control the middle of the field in the first half. In the 23rd minute, Lee Jae-sung’s through-pass allowed Sang-Joe to take a left-footed shot but Beiranvand deflected the ball to a corner. Then it was the turn of Korean keeper Joo Hyun-woo to make a save when Alireza Jahanbakhsh hit a long range shot from 40 meters. Jahanbakhsh, who received the ball from a counterattack in the 25th minute, had Ansarifard on his left with lots of space but he elected to go it alone. Iran then created several opportunities to attack and shoot taking advantage of the space between Korea’s defense and their midfielder. In the 37th minute, Ansarifard tried a medium range shot but did not get past Jo Hyun-woo.

South Korea, who had desperately wanted to test Beiranvand, eventually managed to do so and created that opportunity. In the 41st minute, the Korean Ace Son Heung-min tried a powerful left-footed shot from the front of the box, but Beiranvand saved it to a corner. In the 43rd minute, Najang Ho volleyed the ball from a cross but hit the underside of Beiranvand’s crossbar and deflected away from the goal-line.

At the beginning of the second half, Iran introduced Noorollahi instead of Jahanbakhsh in order to boost the attack. Noorollahi ‘s mid-range shot hit the crossbar in the 50th minute depriving Iran from securing a deserved lead.

But South Korea took the lead instead with Hwang Joo Ja’s opening goal in the 57th minute. Kim Min-jae’s long pass was blocked by the defenders who then clashed into each other, and Hwang Joo picked the loose ball and used a chip shot to beat goalkeeper Beiranvand in the box.

Iran, who gave away the first goal, showed a strong performance by scoring the equalizer following a corner kick in the 62th minute. The corner by Rezaeian , hit the body of Pouraliganji , then deflected past defender Kim Young-kwon into his own goal. Iran managed to equalize in less than 4 minutes.

South Korea, brought in Lee Seung-woo, Sejong, and Lee Jung-hyo after the 75th minute, but missed out on Na Sang-ho, Baek Seung-ho and Hwang-in. Iran also responded with three substitutions of their own.

In the last quarter of second half, Son Heung-min hit a mid-range shot from outside of the box, but Beiranvand easily handled the shot .

The match ended with a 1-1 draw.  Both the coaches Paulo Bento and Marc Wilmots opted to limit the number of substitutions not to break the flow of the game and that resulted in attractive match.

At the end, South Korea, which had hoped, and in some ways was desperate, to win against Iran for the first time in eight years, had to settle for a draw and swallowed up its pride.

In the meantime, both teams will continue their voyages in the second round of the 2022 Qatar World Cup Asian qualifiers starting September 2019.

Team Melli vs China: players rating and performance review.

It was yet , another majestic display by Team Melli under the guidance of Carlos Queiroz. against China. Team Melli has not only enhanced its reputation as a team that can play modern and beautiful football, it also laid a solid claim and are the Chief contender for the title of AFC Asian Cup 2019.

Yet, neither Queiroz nor any of his players are talking beyond the next match. It is a wise and measured move but it does not mask the fact that from what we have seen in the last two weeks, Iran is the best team that has dominated its opposition and won matches deservedly on merit and perhaps with a class above the rest.

China was well beaten by Team Melli and much credits should go for one player, Sardar Azmoun. The Ruben Kazan forward was on a mission and he succeeded by mixture of strength, skill and determination. The Chinese defense, in truth, had a big role in the defeat of their team with some poor defending and suspect decision making.

China, however, was not a minnow team and did not lack the skills required at such level of football. They are guided by one of the world best and famous coaches in Marcello Lippi. A world Cup winner and a coach who has a trail of trophies behind him. Queiroz, on the other hand, out foxed the master in every department and his team came out a clear winner.

Queiroz has masterfully rotated the team for this tournament. He is the envy of the rest of the teams in UAE because he is spoiled for choices in every department. The absence of Vahid Amiri was not even felt. Hopefully , the same will be true against Japan when Mehdi Taremi will be missing due to his suspension.

Team Melli dominated the center and at times defended deep. their teamwork was a delight to watch. On my occasions, the series of short and fast passes interchanged between the players intimidated the Chinese who were chasing shadows. Despite the fact that most of the goals came either from long balls or route one followed by a Chinese defense blunder, that doe not hide the fact that Iran was the better team in all departments.

To be able to take advantage of the opposition mistakes , you need the quality player to do that. Team Melli had the right quality to punish mistakes by opposition defenders.

If there were some negative points, they were the same ones that were mentioned in other matches too and that is the wastefulness of the forwards, particularly Mehdi Taremi. It is very difficult to criticize a player who scored one goal and provided an assist for another, but Taremi was really appalling when he missed an open goal from a few meters after the ball was given to him on a plate by a perfect header from Kanani-Zadegan. It was a shocking miss!

Overall, it was an emphatic win in the quarter final of the AFC Asian Cup. Now……Bring on Japan.


  • Alireza Beiranvand (7.5): Hardly tested but when required he did his job perfectly.
  • Milad Mohammadi (7.5):  Routine day, defensive work was excellent, however, limited venturing forward to neutralize possible opposition fast breaks.
  • Morteza Pouraliganji (8): Another solid performance. His strong tackling and marking left very little space for the Chinese forwards.
  • Ramin Rezaeian (6.5): Improving with every match despite the fact that Queiroz wise squad rotation is not giving Rezaeian regular starting place.
  • Hossein Kanani-Zadegan (7.5): Only his second start of the tournament, however, he was as good as any of the regular players. When called upon for offensive work on corners, he nearly assisted in a goal but for Taremi’s profligate finishing from close range.
  • Omid Ebrahimi (7.5): Another solid exhibition of sheer power and tenacity. His defensive duties were executed perfectly. Strong and reliable as a holding midfileder. Tireless runner with great stamina.
  • Ashkan Dejagah (8): Continued where he left off. His vision, ability to find players on flanks and timely dribbling made a big impact on the game. Although he did not assist in the goals, his domination of the center of the park was excellent.  
  • Alireza Jahanbaksh (7.5): Continues his recovery and put up a good shift against China. Substituted in the second half.
  • Ehsan Hajsafy (7): Had a quiet game in the midfield zone. Nearly scored from a long range shot from outside the box, but the Chinese keeper saved it with full stretch.
  • Mahdi Taremi (7.5): Scored a goal and provided an assist for the third, however, he is still clumsy and wasteful. A player in his class should not miss an open goal, and that reckless challenge on a Chinese player cost him a yellow card and a suspension. Many rough edges to his game.
  • Sardar Azmoun (10): The best of the lot. A really great performance by Sardar capped with an assist and a goal. He was on turbo mode today running at the Chinese defense and creating havoc. He could have score more goals too.



  1. Saman Ghoddos (7): Proving his quality every time he comes on. He does need to have more playing time to reach the peak of his performance and improve his teamwork.
  2. Roozbeh Cheshmi (7): Had a decent game and stuck to the script.
  3. Karim Ansarifard (8): In his short spell on the field, he scored a beautiful goal which proves that he can be a clinical finisher. He needs to deliver more frequently to dislodge Taremi.


Morteza Pouraliganji on his way out of QSL

Morteza Pouraliganji is on his way out of Al Sadd after his contract expired with the Qatar Stars League QSL side. He is a free agent now.

In an interview with Mehr News, Team Melli’s defender said “I was a defensive midfielder, but I’ve been playing in the central defense for some years, Carlos Queiroz told me he was sure that his progress at the central defense will be 50% more than my previous post. It was hard for me to be in the post for the first month and I did not know how to play, as I have already played in the post of defensive midfielder for long time.”

Commenting on his experience in the FIFA World Cup , he mentioned the Spanish striker Diego Costa as saying: “Costa is one of the most roughest and ill-mannered football players I’ve seen over the years. I was even afraid to look into his eyes.”

The  Team Melli defender, talked about his tears while hugging Portugal defender Pepe after the match ended in a draw thus eliminating Iran from the World Cup  “Pepe is a professional and has seen a lot of these things. He said you played quite you should be proud well and keep your head raised”

Referring to his status in Qatari Al-Sadd,  Pouraliganji said: “I mentioned my demand for a renewal of the contract , which was not  agreed upon. I said goodbye to this group and will not play against Esteghlal in  AFC Champions League Quarter finals. I also spoke to Xavi on this.

Pouraliganji  has negotiated with orther Qatar and the Turkish League sides,  “Whatever demand I have will be offered by these clubs but I am not just looking for money.  I am 26 years old and it’s time to leave Qatar for a regular European team.”

Styed Jalal Hosseini on the injury list.

The centre back of Team Melli, Seyed Jalal Hosseini has lost the chance of playing against Turkmenistan in the FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifiers and possibly the trip to Guam, after suffering a leg injury during a league match.

In the absence of Hosseni , the Naft Tehran defender, Carlos Queiroz will most probably use Morteza PouraliGanji is the role as the Chinese league Tianjin Teda player performed during Asian Cup 2015 in Australia. At the time, the other pair of the central defense, Pejman  Montazeri was not available to partner Hosseini and Pouraliganji did an excellent job deputizing for him despite his limited international exposure.

China’s Tianjin Teda seeking Morteza Pouraliganji

The central defender of Team Melli , Morteza Pouraliganji is being pursued by the Chinese Super league club, Tianjin Teda FC.

Pouraliganji was one of the stars of Team Melli in the AFC Asian Cup. His performance in Australia attracted number of interests from various clubs in the Persian Gulf states and China.  Tianjin Teda has formally submitted an offer but the details are sketchy.

Pouraliganji confirmed that an offer exists from China but said he is unaware of the transfer sum and financial terms between his club Naft Tehran and Tianjin. The  defender who also plays in midfield, has denied all the figures that some Iranian newspapers have published and refered to them as pure fabrication by the media. “The closet person in Naft organization is not yet sure of the final figure and I was not briefed on it fully , so , I don’t know how these people can come up with figures!”

The 23 years old  Pouraliganji said that he is naturally looking to progress in football and enhance his chances in the professional world. “I do not mind playing in China, and that will be my first step towards my ultimate goal and that would be playing in Europe.”

Morteza Pouraliganji is taking a short break to visit his mother in the North before flying to China to close the deal, according to ISNA news agency.

Iran 1 -0 Qatar : Match reports


A solitary goal eight minutes into the second half was enough to send Iran and United Arab Emirates through to the second phase with one game left to play in the group stage

Sardar Azmoun demonstrated why he is reportedly attracting the interest of top Premier League clubs with a sublime individual goal as Iran beat Qatar 1-0 in Sydney to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals and knock the Gulf champions out.

Rubin Kazan striker Azmoun has been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool and it was easy to see why on the evidence of his stunning second-half strike at the ANZ Stadium on Thursday


Azmoun produced a fine turn and finish to ensure Carlos Queiroz’s side will progress from Group C with the United Arab Emirates, both nations having won their first two games.

Iran beat Bahrain 2-0 in their opening game of the tournament last weekend and did just enough to see off Qatar, who produced a much-improved showing following their 4-1 hammering at the hands of the UAE but crash out with a game remaining.

Iran and UAE, 2-1 winners over Bahrain on Thursday, lock horns in Brisbane on Monday to determine who will finish top of the group.

Both sides looked short of ideas going forward in a frantic start, but it was Iran – backed by an impressive contingent of vociferous supporters – who looked more dangerous as the first half progressed.

Midfielder Karim Boudiaf came to Qatar’s rescue with a crucial intervention when Masoud Shojaei looked poised to get on the end of Ashkan Dejagah’s cross from the right 23 minutes in.

Iran were happy to let Qatar see plenty of the ball, before trying to pick them off on the break, although an initial lack of quality in the final third made it hard to see where the opening goal would come from.

Morteza Pouraliganji had a header cleared off the line by Ahmed El Sayed and Dejagah let fly with a right-footed strike that flashed wide of the far post as Iran ended the half on the front foot.

Queiroz’s side then moved in front seven minutes into the second period, and it was a moment of quality that was worth the wait as Azmoun sent the Iran fans into raptures with a sublime goal.

The 20-year-old took a pass from the lively Dejagah with his back to goal, spun Almahdi Ali with a sharp turn and kept his composure to apply a right-footed finish.

Azmoun’s night was cut short 10 minutes later when he was carried off with an injury, which did not appear to be serious, soon after Qatar had lost Ismaeel Mohammad to injury.

Mohammed Muntari had half a chance to draw Qatar level, but Ali Reza Haghighi comfortably saved the striker’s header.

Qatar pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but were unable to fashion one and crash out in disappointing fashion as Iran march on.


Iran beats Qatar to make Asian Cup quarter

Adrian Warren, AAP January 15, 2015, 10:12 pm

A sublime piece of skill from Sardar Azmoun booked Iran’s passage into the Asian Cup football quarter finals and condemned Gulf Cup champions Qatar to an early exit.

Sardar’s slick turn and clinical shot in the 52nd minute at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Thursday earned Iran a 1-0 win, their second victory from as many games.

It leaves them second in their group on goal difference behind the United Arab Emirates, who earlier in the day defeated Bahrain 2-1 in Canberra, and will now meet Iran in Brisbane next Monday.

Qatar, who were coming off a 4-1 opening game loss to the UAE, had a decent share of possession, but struggled to create good chances.

Russian-based Sardar’s goal delighted the vast majority of the 22,672 fans in attendance in Sydney, with Iran’s passionate and colourful fans ramping up the noise level of support to the max each time their team got close to Qatar’s penalty area.

Iran one of the pre-tournament favourites, were more consistently dangerous than Qatar and were good value for the win, which they achieved with a second straight clean sheet.

Qatar, who entered the tournament on a long unbeaten run, lacked penetration and didn’t get a single shot on target in the first half.

Just before halftime, Morteza Pouraliganji’s flying header from an Iran corner was headed off the line by Ahmed Elsayed, while Sardar had a firm fourth minute header saved by Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.

It was a similar story in the second half, even after an apparently injured Sardar came off just after the hour.

His substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad had four shots at goal, three of them saved, as Iran sought the cushion of a second goal.

The Qatar goalkeeper also had to push away a shot from Ehsan Haji Safi.

Qatar Substitute Meshaal Abdullah hit a post with a header in stoppage time, but he was judged offside.

Iran midfielder Andranik Teymourian was named man of the match.


Development of a new mentality in Iran’s football planning.

Nelo Vingada, the Portuguese coach has been hard at work preparing the team for the Asian Games 2014 which for Iran will start on the 15th September with an opening match against Vietnam.

The team’s preparation has been going well under the circumstances and the usual difficulties, however, the marked difference in the preparation this time is the tendency for the team to be mostly the U21 footballers. This policy has developed within the corridor of power of FFIRI based on the ultimate goals of Iran achieving qualification for the Olympic Games. However, when the final list of the squad for Incheon games was announced, almost a third of the players will not be eligible to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games from qualification stages.

Nelo Vingada - U-23 Head Coach
Nelo Vingada – U-23 Head Coach

That raised a few questions about how the federation is proceeding with this team considering the earlier plans for the 2016 Olympics and if there was a change of heart triggered by the recent events and the result of the friendly matches played by the team, which to the best of descriptions, were quite modest.

Iran has always been a contender for Asian Games medals. Historically and statically, Iran has been the most successful football team in Asian Games History with 4 Gold medals, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze followed closely by their nemesis South Korea. Incidentally both teams have met each other in the Bronze match play-off in the last two Asian Games and the honors were even.

Unlike their mentality towards marginalizing the Asian Cup, the Asian Games football tournament, is a different proposition all together. Iran’s patriciaption in the Asian Games and the Olympics falls under the responsibilities of the National Olympics Committee (NOC). All federations must strictly follow the NOC guidelines and send athletes whose records indicate that they can compete for one of the medals of the sports they are participating in. Therefore , Iran football team must abide by this charter and filed their strongest team.

Armenia U23 vs Iran U23

With that in mind, 7 quality players who have been making their names in top level of Iran’s league have been added to the list to strengthen the squad.  Kaveh Rezaei , Morteza Pouraliganji , Mohammadreza Khanzadeh, Shahriyar Shirvand , Mohsen Mosalman , Mehdi Sharifi, and Yaghoub Karimi  are the top guns.

 To explain this turnaround, a FFIRI spokesman confirmed that FFIR has been instructed by Iran’s Olympic Committee to field the best and full strength team for the Asian Games. “The NOC made it clear for us that Asian Games is no place for trials. Only the best must are allowed to compete and represent the country. If sending the best athletes or Teams are not possible, then there will be no participation..”  This firm policy of Iran’s NOC has seen some individual Iranian world class athletes lose their place due to loss of form or lack of practice hence possibilities of defeat.

So, it seems that this mentality of FFIRI , which is planning for 4 years ahead competitions like the next World Cup and the next Olympic games is being followed unabated. It is only the IOC that has stepped its authority and threatened to kick Team Melli U23 out if it cannot compete for one of the medals. FFIRI futuristic plans, incidentally, has no mention of competing for championships titles in it. Just qualifying for the World Cup or Olympic Games!

Suddenly, a top level continental and elite competition like the Asian Cup, has no place in FFIRI agenda! To add to the complexity of this twisted mentality , Iran is actually a leading candidate to host the 2019 Asian Cup!