Tag: Naft Tehran

Mehdi Taj to the rescue of Iranian clubs.

The FFIRI President, after prolonged discussion with AFC officials, was able to extend the AFC deadline given to Iranian clubs to pay off their debts for additional two months.

Asian Football Confederation recently set a deadline for the AFC Champions League teams, according to which the clubs must pay all their debts to individuals, legal entities and taxpayers until 31 August . Otherwise they would not be able to get professional licenses and participate in Asian competitions including the Champions League.

Meanwhile, each of the four Iranian clubs on the list Persepolis , Esteghlal , Tractorsazi and Naft Tehran had amassed huge debts from the past seasons that their settlement could did not possibly be cleared in two months, and requires careful planning by the owners of these clubs.

Regarding this problem, Mehdi Taj, during his recent visit to the AFC, had meetings with the members of the Confederation, which resulted in AFC’s approval for a two-month extension to the deadline and mainly to determine the debt obligations. Earlier, these debts were to be paid until August 31st,  the club’s account needs to be clear of debts by 9th ​​of November.



All hopes dashed, Iran out of Olympics football.

Doha: Extra-time goals from Yuta Toyokawa and Shoya Nakajima kept Japan’s hopes of a sixth consecutive appearance the Olympic Games alive with a 3-0 win over Iran that moved Makoto Teguramori’s side into the semi-finals of the AFC U23 Championship on Friday.

Toyokawa put Japan in front five minutes into the first additional period before Nakajima struck twice in two minutes to settle what had been a tight tussle and victory means the Japanese are one win away from guaranteeing themselves one of the continent’s three berths at the Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Japan will meet either United Arab Emirates or Iraq in the next round, with the winner securing a place at the Olympics, while the loser will play-off against the other losing semi-finalist for the third and final spot in Brazil.

Only three of the Japan team that started in the 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia retained their places while Mohammad Khakpour kept faith with six of his line-up following Iran’s 3-2 victory over China in their final Group A clash on Monday.

It was the Iranians who started the brighter, with Arsalan Motahhari breaking through with just two minutes on the clock before firing off a shot that goalkeeper Masatoshi Kushibiki palmed away for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Ali Karimi should have done better, heading his effort off target.

Japan threatened soon after through Yuya Kubo, only to see his effort deflected to safety, and in the 26th minute the Switzerland-based forward went closer still, racing down the right side of the penalty area before hitting a low strike that flew just wide of the far post.

With eight minutes remaining in the half, Iran should have taken the lead. The chance fell, again, to Motahhari when the Japanese defence hesitated and, with Naomichi Ueda making a mess of his clearance, the ball fell to the Naft Tehran striker, but he rushed his shot and it flew far off target.

Watch the match highlights
Japan harbour Olympic hopes after win over Iran

Three minutes shy of the hour mark, the Iranians came within a whisker of taking the lead. Ali Abdollahzadeh sent in a fine curling cross from the right that Milad Mohammadi met with a header that looped over Kushibiki, only to fall back into play via the underside of the crossbar before being cleared.

irn jpn u23-1

Iran had impressed for periods in normal time, but an inability to convincingly unlock the Japanese defence was to prove crucial as the game moved into extra time.

With only five minutes gone in the first period, Khakpour’s team were chasing the game as Toyokawa slipped between the Iranian centre backs to head home Sei Muroya’s cross from close range.

Kushibiki maintained Japan’s advantage soon after when he did well to block Seyed Mohsen Karimi’s effort as the Japanese went into the changeover holding a slender lead.

Four minutes into the second period of extra-time, however, Nakajima punished the tiring Iranians with a spectacular strike from the right that curled into the far top corner of Mohammadreza Akhbari’s goal and, a minute later, he struck again, beating the Iranian goalkeeper from a similar position, only this time to his right.

Iran almost salvaged a consolation four minutes from the end of the game, but Karimi’s attempt came back off the bar before eventually ending in the arms of Kushibiki.

Photo: AFC

The Minister who insists on running football.

In yet another turn of events of Iran2s football, the Minister of Youth and Sport Goudarzi has indicated that he will come down hard on football referees and those who want to hurt the Tehrani teams.

This is another blatant and direct interference in football affairs by the government minister  who has warned the football league referees that they will have to answer for their mistakes and errors in matches. Such function is the responsibility of the Football federation and its referees committee.

According to Sports reporter of Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Mahmoud Goudarzi, commenting on the of protests in recent weeks about football refereeing , mainly from the defeated teams Persepolis and Esteghlal, ” I have been given a report about these  abuses and complaints in form of wrong calls against teams from Tehran, which I am investigating all the cases.”

“In addition there are 3 other teams that have complained to me but it seems that the case for Persepolis is much more clearer than the rest. I will be reviewing all those with the football experts (…) If it is proven to us that there has been wrongdoings and intent to hurt these teams , then we will come down heavily on the culprits.”

The minister who has always acted as the policeman and executioner of football in Iran is clearly violating the FIFA rules which prohibits political and politician interferences in football. Iran has already been suspended once by FIFA in 2006 for the same reason but Mr. Goudarzi is probably testing the waters and defying FIFA , an organization that itself is embroiled in corruption charges.

Persepolis and Esteghlal , the two teams that have complained the most are owned and run by the Iranian government, giving Mr. Goudarzi’s statements and interest in their affairs , another meaning to the term “conflict of interest”.

Alireza Mansourian , Naft Tehran and ex-Team Melli coach and player, expressed his surprise by the interference of the government minster.

source : ISNA

The beginning of league season, joy and gloom.

The 15th Season of Iran Pro football, the Persian Gulf League started with all its usual actions, fanfare, claims and counter claims by coaches, who never seem to tire from their blame culture. It was a bright start for Esteghlal , Sepahan , and Malavan all registering their first wins. The big game of the week between Tractorsazi and Naft Tehran which was so controversial at the final game of last season when Tractorsazi players and fans went into a wild celebration after the final whistle thinking they won the league, was much more quieter and mundane this time. The goalless draw was a drab affair but at least no one fooled Tractorsazi players this time.

Arash Afshin scored for Malavan

Persepolis, with a young team and a highly confident Branko Ivankocvic who is claiming his team is challenging for the championship title and nothing less, could do no better than draw at home against Padideh. The highlight of that game was a wonder equalizing strike by Hadi Nouroozi. Rah Ahan , were minutes away from winning away to Foolad Khuzestan after they lead 2-0 but two quick goals near the end ensured the teams share the spoils. Rah Ahan remained in the top league after the ruling from the appeal committee of FFIRI against their relegation for fielding unregistered player.


Malavan Anzali, a team that is unfairly taking advantage of some peculiar ruling in Iran that allows it to snatch young players during their military service, defeated last season’s Cup winners Zob Ahan 1-0, the goal scored by Arash Afshin , one of the players who does not belong to Malavan but the Bandar Anzali team can get his service for free because it is categorized as a Military team!

As customary for coaches here, Zob Ahan’s Yahya Golmohammadi blamed elements behind the scene for his team’s defeat!

As far as Team Melli players were concerned, there was some good form displayed by various players. Sajjad Shahbazzadeh , Esteghlal’s forward who was selected for Team Melli but never made any squad, scored two goals for his team away to Siah Jamegan. Mehdi Sharifi , continued where he left off last season when he scored the winner against Esteghlal Khuzestan from an inch perfect cross by another Team Melli player, Ehsan Haj Safi.

Sajjad Shabazadeh- Potential Team Melli candidate

Amongst all the actions, the 2015/16 season was not a happy ground for a number of current and former Team Melli players. Amongst the top players sadly missing in action were, Karim Ansarifard, and Ahmad Ale Nemeh. Both part of the FIFA World Cup squad in Brazil, the two players could not find a team. Ansarifard who had a torrid season with Osasuna and was sadly released at the end, insists that he wants to play in Europe and looking for a team in the better league of western Europe.

Other recent and former Team Melli players who were not wanted by any team at the start of the season are:

Javad Kazemian, Mehrdad Ouladi , Siavush Akbarpour , Seyed Mohammed Seyed Salehi , Farshid Talebi , Ahmad Jamshidian , Milad Zeneidpour, and Mohsen Bayati.

The listed players are all out of contract and looking for teams.

Payam Sadeghian “I will return to Team Melli”

The controversial midfielder, who was sacked by Persepolis, says he is determined to return to the top and back to Team Melli.

Payam Sadeghian , who is arguably one of the most talented Iranian young Players of the last few years but unfortunately notoriously indiscipline as well, said that he is looking forward to playing in Europe and then coming back to claim his rightful place in Team Melli.

Branko Ivankovic , Persepolis Croat coach has categorically refused to have Sadeghian in his team and informed the management that under no circumstances he will give this player a place in his team even if Persepolis extended Sadeghian’s contract. Sadeghian was a bench warmer in Persepolis during the time Hamid Derakhshan was the coach and continued the same after Ivankovic took over, mainly due to disciplinary reasons.

Disreputably famous for his transgressing and aggressive behavior, Payam Sadeghian looks liked he ruined a golden opportunity to enhance his career after joining Persepolis. His on and off filed antics, lack of commitment and misconduct overshadowed his talent sometimes so sublime that many critics regretted the failure of those at the helm to properly address, guide and console this talented player. Sadeghian had a lot of potential and was a promising player who represented Iran at several age level teams. Now without a club and with very few in Iran wishing to recruit him due to his troublesome record, he has to pick up the pieces to revive a tattered career outside the country.

sadeghian bench

Sadeghian refused to name the European club that he claims is interested in him. “They have watched me and they contacted me to express their interest. I also have several offers from China, Japan, Qatar and Slovakia but I am not interested to play in those leagues. If it all fails, I am hopeful that I can join Naft Tehran to play for my old boss Alireza Mansourian.” The 23 years old player said in an interview with Iran Varzeshi newspaper.

Naft Tehran has not publically expressed any interest in Sadeghian who has been consistently making the headlines for the wrong reasons. If Sadeghian is to succeed in his career, there is no doubt that he has to attend anger management classes and be counselled by experts; else he will be biting the dust.

Sadeghian has played 5 times for Team Melli in 2012 & 2014.

Tabrizi fans victim of the biggest prank!

If that was not the world’s biggest prank , then I don’t know what it.

It all happened early Friday evening in Yadegar Imam Stadium in Tabriz, the home of Tractorsazi team which was playing for the Championship title for the first time in its history. The Tabrizi team needed to win the match against arch rival Naft , themselves needing the 3 points to win the title.

The stadium was over filled to the rim. As usual in Iranian stadiums, there was little regards for safety and regulation. Eyewitnesses in the stadium have mentioned hundreds or thousands of seats that were occupied by two persons. All emergency exits and pathways were occupied by the passionate Tabrizi fans that were ready to enjoy the mother of all celebrations at the end of the game. That would be Tractorsazi’s Persian Gulf League title season 2014/15.

There was a third team involved in the last day title race, and that was Sepahan Esfahan playing at home against Saipa. Sepahan, needed to win but also needed the match in Tabriz between Tractorsazi and Naft Tehran to end in a draw for Sepahan to win the title.

All was going well for Tractorsazi and they were 3-1 up in the second half and well on the way for the celebration of the century. Sepahan two goal advantage against Saipa was meaningless. But then disaster struck.

Team Melli veteran midfielder Andranik Teymourian , the assist provider for the first goal and scorer of  2nd for Tractorsazi  was sent off a couple of minutes after his team’s 3rd goal. The rest was all downhill for the Tabrizi team. Naft scored twice to equalize and make it 3-3 and that was the result after Alireza Faghani blew his whistle at the end of the game.

Millions of TV audiences were astonished by the celebrations that ensued. It was so unreal, illusionary, bordering a joke. Nowhere in the world, have fans celebrated their team becoming second like these fans were doing in Tabriz. A pitch invasion that threatened the safety of the players, huge chanting and celebration for those in the stands who could not join the mass on the pitch , waving flags, scenes of frenzy captured by the Iranian TV was part of this incredible event.

tractorsazi vs. Naft Tehran

To top it all , the local TV commentator, who had no idea why the fans are behaving like that but acted and reasoned that the fans in Tabriz are unique in the world ,  and even celebrate their team losing the style in style !!

There was something that was definitely not right……Surreal , false and comical in all that.

And then the truth was revealed. Someone has played the biggest prank of them all on the unsuspecting Tabrizi fans.

It all started when a few minutes before the end of the match, the Public Address announcement urged the fans to be ready for the celebration. When the match finished, someone has informed the bench of Tractorsazi that the match in Esfahan ended 2-2 while the fact  was Sepahan have won it 2-0.

The euphoria began, the celebrations, while truly incredible and exuberant was all the result of one of the biggest pranks in the history.

The follow up to this incredibly heart breaking episode for the Tabrizi fans, while their rivals had the biggest laugh, was even sillier than the event itself. It goes beyond saying that lying, rumor mongering and fabrication of news is institutional and a way of life in Iran.  At least 80,000 people were in the stadium, many carrying radios and smartphones that have all the information they needed about the match in Esfahan and elsewhere in Iran. How on earth this mass was cheated into believing the lies is itself quite incredible.

One Azerbaijani official claimed that there was a total loss of communication in the stadium, a seriously retarded claim, while others demanded that people responsible for this  are put to trial and severely punished.

faghani red card Teymopurian

Ando Teymourian , in the aftermath of this prank said that Friday was one of his darkest days in football. “Not only the result itself and the loss of the title in the last quarter of the match was heart breaking but the false news that lead the masses in wild celebration and then realizing it was all false, just added a huge insult to the injury. I am really sorry for the fans. I do apologize to every warm blooded Tabrizi fan. This is all I can say.”

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.

Alireza Mansourian pledges full support to Queiroz

Naft Tehran coach and a former Team Melli player, Alireza Mansourian pledged his full support to Team Melli and Coach Carlos Queiroz. Mansourian was present at the farewell ceremony of Team Melli to wish them well before departure to Australia.

In a short statement to the press at Team Melli camp site, Mansourian said “I came here to show my support to the boys, and Carlos Queiroz. It is my duty to do so and I sincerely wish Team Melli all the best in their difficult task in Australia. Yes, it is not an easy job by any means but the boys are well up to it.”

“Queiroz has been trying his best for the team, however the preparation was less than ideal and there is no denial in that. However some might justify the circumstances and whatever was said; we must admit that the preparation of Team Melli was well below Querioz’s expectations and definitely way below our competitors’.”

Mansourain , who has 3 players in the squad Biranvand, Amiri and Pouraliganji added “I believe that Queiroz and Team Melli in general were victims of the disputes between the Ministry of Sports and the football federation. That should not have happened but the reality was, a high tension between these two organizations resulted in Team Melli being hurt by it.”

Alireza Mansourian urged all the fans and the media to be behind Team Melli and support the team to the end.

“Only Nostradamus can predict Team Melli’s results” Haj Rezaei

Amir Haj Rezaei , the prominent Iranian football analyst and former coach , was highly critical of the long interruption of the football league program lasting 50 days in order to set camp for Team Melli.

“You cannot build one team on the ruins of the rest. Football league program is the foundation and fundamental in any country’s football progress. You cannot stop this program for the sake of one team.” Haj Rezaei said in an interview with ISNA.

“I am totally against such scheduling which it is the result of poor planning and loss of awareness. No country I know of has such long interruptions of the league program while it is at its peak.”


Asked about the prospect of the 4 Iranian clubs in the forthcoming Asian Champions League, Haj Rezaei said that the prospects are quite dim. “The Iranian teams are facing well organized, strong, resourceful and experienced Arab teams from the Persian Gulf states. Their job will be quite difficult at best. I cannot see much chance of progress for these Iranian teams, most of which are facing all sort of problems or financial difficulties.”

“Naft Tehran which has been doing well in the last two seasons has the best chance to progress. They have a well-built and strong team. They have managed to keep the right balance under capable coaches. The only problem with Naft is lack of experience. The same can be said for Tractorsazi. Foolad Khuzestan has lost some key players because of the military service issues however with a clever coach, the team still managed to do well in the league and keep their high ranking. Whether Foolad will be good enough for the Asian Champions league is another question.”

“Out of all the 4 teams, Persepolis has the most daunting task. The club has no CEO , no one to sign their checks , players want to leave , the team is struggling at mid table with some bad results ,  and  to cap it all ,  internal conflicts are aplenty in this organization.  I can’t see how Persepolis can get through this mayhem.”

Asked about Team Melli prospects in the AFC Asian Cup. Haj Rezaei summarized by saying “Only Nostradamus can predict Team Melli’s results.”