Tag: Moscow

Late strike by Ansarifard gives Iran a narrow win against Lithuania

Karim Ansarifard scored a late winner to give Iran a 1-0 victory over Lithuania in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Friday.

Carlos Queiroz’s side, who will face Morocco, Spain and Portugal in Group B at the World Cup, went into the game on the back of a 2-1 friendly defeat against Turkey in Istanbul and struggled to create chances against Edgaras Jankauskas’ lively Lithuania side.

After going in goalless at half-time, Iran spent much of the second half pinned back by waves of Lithuanian attacks, with Justas Lasickas firing over the crossbar before substitute Povilas Leimonas failed to hit the target after a neat passing move culminated in a chance on the hour mark.

Iran came to life in the last 10 minutes of the game, piling forwards and creating a number of chances before Olympiacos striker Ansarifard tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area and found the net in the 88th minute.

While the result – Iran’s fourth victory in their last six international friendlies – will have pleased Queiroz, the manner of his side’s performance will have given him food for thought ahead of their group opener against Morocco on June 15.

This was the last friendly of Team Melli. Due to a mixture of issues, games against Greece and Kosovo were cancelled. At the last minute it was been able to arrange this game against Lithuania. The Iran was the first team to arrive in Russia and has been in Moscow for 3 days, where it will play. its fifth participation in the World Cup.

Lithuania is a fourth tier team of Europe, which has not played in any World Cup, nor is it expected to do so in the short and medium term. The team consists of local players who play in their country’s, infima league, where their first division players, would have problems playing in the third division of Spain, for example.


Team Melli Hopeful: Morteza Tabrizi

Morteza Tabrizi, is one more serious contender for a Team Melli jersey come June 2018 when the whole world will be enjoying the FIFA World cup 2018
A late developer in football, Tabrizi only came into contention a couple of season ago. Tall and skillful, he has an Ali Daei like style. His heading ability and goals from headers are becoming a trademark.

Tabrizi, unlike his surname suggests, was actually born in Hamedan on January 6th, 1991. Played his early football in Talar Vahdat in his home town then Mes Kerman. His senior career started at Pas Hamedan where the tall forward stuttered and only managed to score a few (5 goals) in just short of 3 years. Despite that , he was actually called for the Iran U23 team.

The break for Tabrizi came when he was transferred to Zob Ahan in 2013. The central forward was given ample opportunities to prove his worth and more playing time. Tabrizi`s confidence grew and with it came the goals.
Tabrizi towering physique helped him in scoring freely and specifically beating his markers in the air. He eventually attracted Team Melli selectors attention and was called several times, however he has yet to make his debut.
This season is by far the best that the 27 years old Tabrizi has played in his career. The AFC Champions league seems to be his favorite.

The only doubt that exists in this potentially great match winner is his confidence in front if the goal. He seems to be wasteful at times and could have scored many goals than he actually has if had more assertiveness and determination qualities. His conversion rate could be much better. A good mentor would make Tabrizi a great forward for steam Mell i.

The competition up front for places is quite stiff. In fact the best players of thus current Team Kelli are all forwards. Tabrizi will have a tough time dislodging the others for a place in that plane which will take team Kelli to Moscow, however, he has exceptional heading ability that only Azmoun can match in the squad.

Senior career*


Years Team Apps Goals
2010–2013 Pas Hamedan     35 5
2013–  Zob Ahan     133 37
National teams
2012–2014 Iran U23 5 2


Few hours before the World Cup 2018 Draw

Team Melli is only hours away from knowing its fate in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 draw. Iran is in Pot3 with a potential of a tough draw. This is the first time that Team Melli has qualified for the FIFA World cup for a second successive time. This feat was achieved by the Carlos Queiroz and for that, the Portuguese will be forever remembered.

Team Melli was the first Asian side to qualify for this tournament and did so with an impressive 12 consecutive clean sheets. However, the downsize of this record is that Team Melli is hardly exemplary at the front with only an average of 1 goals scored per game.

Queiroz is well known for his philosophy of solid defense and closing all the flanks. His facet of tactics is “reactive football” with a deep-lying defense and quick counterattacks. Queiroz changed the game plan in recent friendlies against Russia, Panama and Venezuela, where Team Melli played with a differently, pressing higher up the pitch and adopting a more aggressive approach.

Carlos Queiroz Plans

Carlos Queiroz, despite a temper and petulance that has caused many outwardly senseless controversies in recent years, is very popular in Iran because of the results and performances. The Portuguese is the football equivalent to Donald Trump who picks up fights, with anyone that crosses his line be it a charity worker, footballer, journalist or a club coach. Despite his irritable and vindictive character, most critics believe that he has made a difference in Iran’s football, at least at National Team level by giving Team Melli real character and building a solid group of player. For that, he is much more accomplished in his job that the American President.

What he lacks in finesse and character, Queiroz certainly makes up in coaching skills, passion and man management. Iranian players are not very well versed in discipline or professionalism, but under Queiroz some of Team Melli players with attitudes or transgressions, soon found themselves out of the squad in a flash. The rest heard the message well and learned the lesson.  Queiroz, not much of an aficionado of the domestic league, has always preferred Europe-based players, as this gives him some assertion of technical discipline that the domestic leagues sorely lack.

Luckily, there are a large number of players in the current squad that play in Europe, including 3 who actually earn their living in Russia; Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan) , Saeid Ezatolahei ( FC Amkar Perm on loan from FC Rostov) and Milad Mohammadi ( Akhmat Grozny)

 Regardless to which teams will be in Iran’s group, Germany, Spain and Nigeria being about the toughest or an easier ride on paper of Russia, Croatia and Panama, Team Melli will be a tough nut to crack.

The fans, however, would wish to see some more courage by Queiroz and less of the “Park the Bus” approach.