Tag: Netherlands

Louis van Gaal launches furious rant over “bulls***” FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has slammed FIFA’s decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with the tournament just eight months away. Van Gaal is among a growing number of critics of FIFA and its policies of monetizing and commercialization plus its involvement in politics with discrimination and double standards.

There is plenty of ill-feeling surrounding the tournament already, with the human rights abuses in the country as well leading many to question how the tournament ended up being hosted there. The reports of thousands of migrant dying as they attempt to construct the stadiums for the tournament in horrendous working conditions has also led to widespread anger.

And former Manchester United boss Van Gaal has been open in his feelings towards the upcoming tournament. Speaking on Monday, the 70-year-old said: “I have already mentioned it in previous press conferences. I think it’s ridiculous that the World Cup is there.

“We are playing in a country that FIFA says they want to develop football there. That’s bulls***, but it doesn’t matter. It’s about money, about commercial interests. That matters in FIFA.

“Why do you think I’m not on any committee at FIFA or UEFA with my expertise? Because I have always opposed these kinds of organizations. I can say that in Qatar later, but that won’t help the world get rid of this problem.”

Alireza Jahanbakhsh reveals why he was adamant to join Feyenoord.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh has ended his three-year spell at Brighton and returned to the Netherlands to join Feyenoord on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

The 27-year-old joined the Seagulls in July 2018 and made 61 appearances, scoring four goals.

He now returns to the Netherlands, to link up with the Rotterdam outfit, who will be hoping he can rediscover the form which saw Brighton bring him over to England for a record club transfer fee.

In his first spell in Eredivisie with NEC and AZ Alkmaar, Jahanbakhsh made 112 appearances, scoring 39 goals and picking 31 assists in the process.

Brighton head coach Graham Potter said: “Ali has been a very good professional and great to work with, but this move is a good one and gives him the chance of more regular game time, which is not something we are able to guarantee.

“I’d like to thank Ali for his hard work during my time here and wish him all the best for the future.”

Jahanbakhsh will wear the number nine shirt for Feyenoord, which has previously been sported by club legends such as Henrik Larsson, Julio Cruz, Graziano Pelle, Roy Makaay, and Pierre van Hooijdonk to name just some.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh has revealed the key role Feyenoord manager Arne Slot played in him returning to the Netherlands.

Arne Slot during a training session

Slot was assistant manager at AZ Alkmaar to John van den Brom during Jahanbakhsh’s time at the club.

But the Iranian international revealed that when Slot expressed his interest in signing him for Feyenoord, he was determined to make the move happen.

He told the club’s official website: “During my time at AZ as an assistant coach, Arne Slot was one of the people who helped me to become a better player. So when he called and asked if I wanted to come to Feyenoord, I told him I was going to do everything I could to make this transfer. I had no doubts.”

Feyenoord’s sporting director Frank Arnesen believes Jahanbakhsh could become a valuable player for them.

He said: ‘With Alireza we add the desired offensive reinforcement to the selection. A player who has proven to achieve a high return for several seasons. Moreover, he is now in the phase of his career where he can quickly be of enormous added value to us.”

Bert Van Marwijk negotiation with FFIRI in final stages

 In a Monday tweet, Saad Al Harthy claimed that Van Marwijk will succeed Queiroz in Team Melli, adding that what remains is just the final agreement between the parties for a 4-year contract.

Carlos Queiroz stepped down as Team Melli coach after the 3-0 defeat against Japan in the semifinal of AFC Asian Cup on January 28. He left Tehran for Lisbon three days later after Iran’s Football Federation didn’t offer him any proposal for extending his contract.

van Marwijk  coached Fortuna Sittard, Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund, Feyenoord, Netherlands, Hamburger SV before taking the Saudi Job.

Bert van Marwijk steered the Netherlands to the final match of 2010 FIFA World Cup which they ultimately lost 1-0 in extra-time to Spain. He also guided Saudi Arabia to 2018 FIFA World Cup but left the Middle Eastern country before the major event to join Australia.

On 24 January 2018, van Marwijk was appointed as the new head coach of the Australia. On 8 March 2018, it was announced that he will be replaced as Australian coach by Graham Arnold after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Team Melli to meet Trinidad and Venezuela in friendly matches.

As part of the ongoing preparation for the AFC Asian Cup 2019, Iran’s Team Melli will face Venezuela next month after the proposed match against Trinidad and Tobago.

According to ISNA, Venezuelan media have announced that the their national football team is scheduled to meet in a friendly international with the Iranian national team next month. On this basis, the friendly match between Team Melli and Venezuela will be held at Azadi Stadium on Tuesday, 20th November.

Earlier, foreign sources had announced that Team Melli is scheduled to hold a friendly international against Trinidad on Thursday 15th November. The Iranian national team will also play at home next week against Bolivia. The two teams Iran and Venezuela have recently met in Nijmegen, Netherlands,  where the match ended 1-0 for Iran.

As customary by now, there are no official word from the football federation on these matches!

Narrow win for Team Melli against Venezuela

Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s 57th minute strike gave  Iran a 1-0 win over Venezuela in an international friendly at the Goffertstadion in Nijmegen, Netherlands on Monday.

 The win stretched Iran’s unbeaten run to 10 matches as Team Melli continue their Road to Russia preparations.

Iran, the first Asian team to confirm their berth for the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia, beat Panama 2-1 in a friendly on Thursday and are enjoying a rich vein of form.

The win is a boost for Carlos Queiroz’s team as they prepare for next summer’s FIFA World Cup. 

In action later on Monday will be Saudi Arabia, whose latest Road to Russia friendly will be against Bulgaria.

Team Melli Line up: Alireza Biranvand (Mohammadshshid Mazaheri 46), Ramin Rezaiyan, Seyyed Jalal Hosseini (Omid Ebrahimi 61), Morteza Pourali Ganji, Saeed Ezzatollahi (Akbar Imani 46), Ali Karimi, Ashkan Dejagah (Saman Ghodous 46), Vahid Amiri, Ehsan Haj Safi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Kaveh Rezaei 61), Reza Ghokhannejad (Commander 61).

Venezuela team : Fariniz (Contreras 46), Hernandez, Avicadas, Chanslor, Annel, Figueira, Aranda, Aniur, Murillo, Rondon, Machies (Lucena 75).

First half report

Minute 2: Alireza Jahanbakhsh kicked off the right-wing at the very first minute, and with a good shot, Reza GhoochanNejad set a good goal, but Gucci kicked the ball high with a fierce shot.

In the 7th minute, Sa’id Ezatollahi’s shot from behind the penalty area was easily caught byFariniz.

In the 14th minute, the tactical work of Iran’s players on the right hand side of Venezuela took a great shape to reach HajSafi in front of the penalty area. HajSafi strong shot midway through the Venezuelan player’s way and did not reach the gate.

In the 18th minute, once again the tactical work of the Iranian players was answered, but again, Iran’s players were not very accurate in the final touch and the Venezuelan goal remained clean.

In the 25th minute, Ehsan Haj Safi’s well-rounded pass to Vahid Amiri resulted in the player taking the shot and the player snapped out a little away from the Venezuelan goal.

 31st minute, WBA player Rhondon Shoot traversed a distance of about 30 meters from the Iranian goal

In the 36th minute, a free kick to Venezuela and a cross from , saw Biranvand come out erroneously in no-man zone. The Venezuela player shot at the empty net ,  Seyyed Jalal Hosseini cleared the ball from the line

Second half report

In the 50th minute, on a team-run Venezuelan team, the team got a shotgun that embraced the striker Muhammad Mazhahi Mazaheri.

In the 55th minute, Saman Chandos’s center met by Pouraliganji who headed powerfully towards the goal, but the new goalkeeper sent the ball to the corner.

Goal: In the 57th minute, a sharp counter-attack of Iran’s players resulted in a Venezuela goalkeeper coming out of his box, and Amiri sent a deep pass through to Jahanbakhsh who was facing an empty goal and scored the first goal for Iran. Jahanbakhsh scored in a city whose first club in the Netherlands belongs to this city (Nijmegen).

In the 60th minute, the Venezuelan player’s cross and the acrobatic blow of the player crossed wide off target .

In the 63rd minute, Hajj Safi’s pass into the penalty area of Venezuela, where a rogue shot and one shot hit him on the net.

In the 66th minute, Wahid Amiri initially scored the test inside Venezuela’s penalty area, and after passing few players, he transferred the ball to Kaveh Reza’i who did not hit the goal with a deflected attack on the team.

In the 70th minute, after a dribbling PouraliGanji, Sotluled sent his own line to the Iranian goal where Rondon was unlucky to miss the target.

In the 72nd minute, the Venezuelan midfielder Rondon struck against Iran’s goalkeeper but struck him off Hajj Safi. The attack continued and Iran’s players made several mistakes at Rashid Mazaheri’s goal.

In the 76th minute, with the Venezuelan goalkeeper mistake, the ball reached Rezaei, when his center landed on PouraliGanji, but the opponent’s timely tackle prevented him from scoring the second goal for Iran.

At precisely the 77th, Venezuelan players lost ground on a quick counter-attack near the boxy, who lost their position on the carelessness of the players.

In the 88th minute, Sotoledo Shot with a very good reaction from Rashid Mazaheri who kept the Iranian goal clean.

The game ended with a one-nil  lead away for the Iranian national team. This was the second narrow win for Team Melli after the 2-1 win against Panama.


Sardar Azmoun vs. Manchester United under Queiroz watchful eyes.

The prolific young Team Melli striker, Sardar Azmoun has scored two goals on Friday for his club FC Rostov  in a 6-0 routing of the struggling Tom’ Tomsk in the Russian Premier league to lay a strong claim for a starting line up against Manchester United in the UEFA Europa cup next week.

On Thursday 9th March, FC Rostov will be hosting the famous Red Devils at home for a memorable encounter. Carlos Queiroz will have a golden opportunity to fly to Russia to be close to the action and hit two birds with one stone. Queiroz spend a few years in Manchester United as the right hand man of Sir Alex Ferguson. He has a chance to meet with his compatriot Jose Mourinho and some of the senior players he worked with , while also checking on the hot Sardar Azmoun against strong opposition of the highest class.

Azmoun has been performing admirably with Rostov and speculation are rife that he is wanted by many clubs while the Chinese have also shown interest in acquiring his services. Azmoun is adamant to continue with Rostov until the end of the World Cup before deciding on his future.

Queiroz will be also checking on Ghoochannejad and Jahanbakhsh in the Netherlands.  Both these plyers have been doing well and scoring vital goal for their repective clubs and helping them climb up the table.

While their is strong speculations that Queiroz is leaving to South Africa, a claim that seems to be be re-occuring every now and then, the Portuguese coach continues his preparation plans for two crucial FIFA  World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Qatar in Doha then at home in Azadi against China. Full points from these two matches virtually guarantees Iran qualification to the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.


Iran still leads the table ahead of Korea and Uzbekistan.


Iran’s Political Strife and Its Effect on Their World Cup Qualifying Campaign



It was smiles all round last week as Iran’s football team attended an official ceremony before leaving for the World Cup finals in Brazil.

But tensions between head coach Carlos Queiroz and Iranian authorities have cast a shadow over what is a huge task to qualify for the second round.

Iranians celebrated in the streets when Team Melli qualified for the finals last year, its fourth appearance at the finals.

It came just days after a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, won the presidential election offering a brighter future following eight years of increasing financial pain and tighter restrictions under hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

On paper, the team’s prospects look daunting. Iran was drawn against Argentina, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina in Group F, teams which boast numerous stars who play in the best leagues in the world.

In contrast, Iran’s squad members mostly play in its domestic leagues where the game is less intense.

“The expectations on the team to do well are very high, but those expectations are unrealistic,” said Majeed Panahi, one of the founders of Team Melli, an English-language sports news website aimed at keeping the Iranian diaspora around the world up to date on Iranian football.

“It’s going to be very difficult to make it to the next round.”


Iran’s preparations have been hampered by numerous tensions in the run-up to the finals.

Team complaints over the low quality of their training kit—as per AFP—and confrontations over the release of players for international duty—as per the Telegraph—have spilled into the public domain, with officials repeatedly trying to play down the issues.

According to the Iranian press, Queiroz, the former assistant coach of Manchester United and head coach of Real Madrid and South African and Portuguese national teams, has pushed hard to get what he needs for the national team.

“Carlos fought uphill battles like you wouldn’t believe. He has good relations with the Iranian Football Federation (FFI), but they’ve had to fight for every inch,” said Mick McDermott, Iran’s former fitness coach who worked with Queiroz from April 2012 to July 2013 and is now fitness coach at UAE side Al Nasr FC.

“In other countries, you don’t have to fight like that. Your energies are concentrated on the team and the preparation.”


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 Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Queiroz’s three years at the helm began in April 2011. One of his central missions was to identify key players of Iranian descent who were playing at a high level abroad and who could boost the team’s chances through heightened tempo, fitness and skill levels required by European leagues.

He was instrumental in persuading several foreign-based players to play for the national team, including Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham) a striker born in Iran but who had moved to Germany when he was young, and Reza Ghoochannejhad (Charlton), who grew up in the Netherlands and became the golden boy of Iranian football when he scored the crucial goal against South Korea last June that secured Iran a place in the finals.

Others include Stephen “Mehrdad” Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps), a defender born in the United States who received his first cap in 2013.

They are bolstered by two experienced midfielders—Javad Nekounam, the team captain who spent five years at Osasuna, and Andranik Teymourian, who played for several years in England at Fulham, Barnsley and Bolton Wanderers.

There was resistance to Queiroz’s hunt for Iranian players who had grown up abroad, but he was persistent, and it formed an element of the reorganisation of the management and discipline of the national team.

Carlos Queiroz leading Team Melli training.
Carlos Queiroz leading Team Melli training.

The project for the first three months was ordering equipment—new nets, balls, kit and much more. Queiroz was intent on enhancing the prestige of the national team so that it wasn’t a step down from Iran’s club teams.

McDermott recounts his first experience of travelling to a home game in Tehran’s Azadi stadium. He boarded the team bus and, to his dismay, saw the kit man, the doctors and the physios: “Obviously nothing was set up in the changing room when we arrived. No preparation at all.”

The coaching team set about implementing detailed plans for training camps in the run-up to games. They upgraded hotels, decorated players’ rooms with pictures of Iranian football to inspire them, drew up detailed itineraries for camps and introduced concise preparation protocols for every member of staff.

“It was a wake-up to international standards of preparation,” said McDermott.

In his autobiography last year, retired Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described Queiroz as brilliant, intelligent and meticulous.

“He was the closest you could be to being the Manchester United manager without actually holding the title,” wrote Ferguson, a manager renowned for his attention to detail and uncompromising attitude.


Inevitably, Queiroz’s demanding character brought tensions, not least following his suggestion that Iran’s domestic knockout competition, the Hazfi Cup, should be cancelled.

His request wasn’t approved, but the competition was pushed forward to minimise its impact on national team preparations.

Queiroz was also criticised for spending too much time outside the country and not enough at Iranian league matches.

“He’s a good coach and tactician, but he expects the whole country to change its mentality to be in line with his own and this has been regarded as a problem,” said Panahi of the Team Melli website.

Queiroz’s plans for a training camp in Portugal were cancelled, and the team have lacked warm-up matches against major teams, both issues emanating from what the FFI says are its squeezed finances because of sanctions against the country.

Instead Iran has faced friendly fixtures against Belarus and Montenegro, both resulting in unconvincing goalless draws. That said, they did beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0, last time out.

Significantly Queiroz has also confronted Iran’s club sides over their refusal to release players for longer for national team camps. Only 11 players made it to a training camp in South Africa in early May because of the clash with the Asian Champions League, the region’s most prestigious club competition. Queiroz has bemoaned the fact publicly.

Team Melli celebrating scoring vs. Trinidad & Tobago

“Those who think Iran’s national team will be successful with only 14 days of preparation are either crazy or living in Disneyland,” he told reporters during Iran’s training camp in Austria last month, as per The National.

In May, President Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian, called for everyone to unite behind the team, and there is little doubt Iran’s huge and dedicated fan base are willing Team Melli on to fight for every inch they can during their group matches.

“The key is the first two games,” says McDermott, referring to Iran’s match against Nigeria on June 16, which he says will be a tough test.

“Carlos will be preparing the team meticulously. He’s working hard to get the whole level of physical and mental stamina up.”

And McDermott remains hopeful: “Iran has good players and it’s not a bad team. When you get to the World Cup anything can happen. Can Iran beat Nigeria and Bosnia? Absolutely.”


– All quotes gained first-hand, unless otherwise stated

Marcus George is a former BBC and Reuters correspondent who is based in Dubai from where he covers Iranian news and current affairs.