Omid team loses against Qatar

Iran’s U-23 (Omid Team) played against its Qatari counterpart on Thursday afternoon in the Luceil training grounds and lost 2-1.

The team under Hamid Estili has been having disappointing results of late in their preparations for the AFC Asian U23 championships in Thailand on January 2020

Qatar went ahead from the start of the match with Khaled Munir taking advantage of a real blunder in Iranian back four and scoring for Qatar. In the 8th minute, the Qatari forward Mohammed Wa’ad scored the second goal for his team with a good header.  Two goals in quick succession disturbed all of Estili’s plans.

To their credit, the Omid players did not crumble and with some fine work by Omid Noorafkan, and a powerful strike, the Sepahan midfielder scored to narrow the deficit for Iran.  Omid Team continued to press forward searching for the equalizer, but the Qatari defence and their goalkeeper gave the Iranians very little breathing space.

In the second half. Omid Team was more organized with a change in the line up that introduced  Hosseinzadeh, Ghaedi, Azadi and Sharifi coming in as substitutes in the second half. In the dying minute of the match, Mehdi Ghaedi skillfully dribbled past the Qatari goalkeeper leaving their last defender no option but to foul Ghaedi to prevent the equalizer

The defender Mohammed Al-Bakri, who committed the deliberate foul in a scoring opportunity was immediately given the red card, but the referee did not award a penalty as it was outside the box.

The game ended in a disappointing 2-1 loss for Omid. This defeat comes after the disappointing results of Omid Team in Jakarta playing friendly games against the Indonesian Olympics team. (a draw and a loss). Omid Team has not tasted victory for some time now.

Omid Team initial list for Indonesia Friendly announced

The head coach of the Omid Team announced the initial list of 17 players on list invited to the training camp starting on 6th November. According to the official website of the Iranian Football Federation, the head coach of the Olympic team, Hamid Estili, the invitees are required to attend the camp of the Iranian Olympic team in Olympic Academy Hotel.

The next list of invited players will be announced at the end of this week’s Persian Gulf Premier League. The names of the players invited in the first group are as follows:


Ali KiKhosravi, Omid Noorafkan and Mohammad Mohebbi (Sepahan Esfahan)

Aref Gholami, Mehdi Ghaedi and Hossein PourHamidi (Esteghlal Tehran)

Reza Jabeira and Jafar Salmani (Naft Abadan)

Reza Shekari and Mohammad Azadi (Tractorsazi Tabriz)

Aref Aghasi (Foolad Khuzestan)

Amir Roustaei (Persepolis)

Sina Shah Abbasi (Damash Gilan)

Amir Shabani (Fajr Shahid Sepasi)

Mohammad Papi (Gol Reyhan Alborz)

Alireza Arta (Mes Kerman) 

Mohammad Kazemi (Zob Ahan).

The camp of the Iranian Olympic football team is set in preparations for two friendly games against Indonesia. The squad will leave Tehran for Jakarta on November 10th.

Team Melli players news & transfers.

Omid Noorafkan, who is a member of the Belgian football club Sporting Charleroi has agreed terms with Foolad Sepahan on a one-year deal. Noorafkan was on a loan deal with Esteghlal but his contract with Sepahan is a permanent one, according to ISNA. Noorafkan has already joined Sepahan squad and has been training at the club training ground from today (Tuesday). Massoud Tabash, managing director of Sepahan Club, confirmed this in an interview with ISNA.

Saman Ghoddos transfer to the English Championship club Brentford has fallen apart at the last minute with the Iranian not agreeing personal terms.  Ghoddos returned back to his club Amiens SC in France and joined the squad for training.  Ghoddos already played two matches for his club in League 1. The Iranian midfielder is one of the very few successful Iranian legionnaires’ in Europe. Last season he played 27 times for Amiens and scored 4 goals.

Meanwhile, in Qatar, Omid Ebrahimi‘s contract with his club Al Ahli is about to run out. According to one source, Ebrahimi who had a very good season with Al Ahli is sought by several QSL clubs. Al Duhail seems to be the favourite to sign him. No official announcement has been out from either side.

In Belgium, Kaveh Rezaei is still registered with Club Brugge however, he has not featured in any matches yet. He was in the 18 man squad on one match but was an unused substitute. Club Brugge seems to be looking for options to sell the Iranian forward by the 2nd of September were the European transfer windows will close. The Iranian forward is surplus to requirements at Belgian team Club Brugge according to coach Philippe Clement who has made it clear that Rezaei no longer figures in his plans.

One of the options for Rezaei is to return to Charleroi. The 27-year-old striker has played 11 times for Club Brugge and scored just one goal. Rezaei joined Club Brugge for a reported club-record fee of €5 million in August 2018.

Ali Gholizadeh, another Team Melli player in Belgium has made a cameo appearance for his club, Sporting Charleroi coming in at the 88th minute of a league game. His status seems to be a bench warmer with Charleroi however there are no indications that the club is going to release him.

Iran’s Omid team qualification chances.

It is quite odd to criticize a team that has full marks from two matches and  has a good chance of qualifying for the Olympics Games 2020. This is the case with Iran’s Omid Team under the coaching of Zlatko Kranjcar and assisted by Reza Sharoudi.

Two wins out of two with a goal difference of +5 is not bad under any normal circumstances, but the qualification rounds of the AFC Asian U-23 Championship 2020 which also the preliminary qualification for the Olympics men football competition is an odd one.

Right now, with only final round left in all the groups, Iran is out of the competition. Omid Team goal difference is not good enough and neither are the six points from 2 games ! Teams like Myanmar , Palestine and Vietnam have also 6 points but better goal difference.

What is very clear before tomorrow’s match against Iraq is that Omid Team needs a win to assure themselves of qualifying for the finals. Iraq is not an easy team to beat and at this level of competition, it has always given Iran a tough time one way or another.

A draw might be good enough for qualification but dependent on the result of the rest of the groups. Defeat, means Iran is most probably is out.

At this age group of football, any result is possible, so Omid must focus on a win which is the only way it can qualify without complicated calculations. This is very much possible, however, from the two matches seen so far, the squad has major gaps and tactical issues.

After 8 years reign of Carlos Queiroz, his style of football at Team Melli has progressed and developed quite nicely to be in the standard of the modern game. However, Queiroz legacy has not touched the youth teams for many reasons, primarily because Queiroz had no real inclination to work with that age level or had differences with the coaches of the youth teams. The result is that U-23 team style of play has no relation at all with the senior team which is a big issue for the future.

It is apparent for any observer that U-23 team playing under Zlatko Kranjcar is playing an archaic style of football and at the very basic. Teamwork is non-existence and simple maneuver such as diagonal passing is an issue in this team. The whole offensive strategy is based on crosses and heading into the goal, set pieces as commonly referred to. This is the style that Iran used to win the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Asian cup.

Football has evolved tremendously since then. Total football of the Dutch in the mid 70’s and then the Tiki Taka style of Barcelona in the millennium were the catalyst of a modern beautiful competition and enrichment of the sport which the whole world followed and enjoyed. Route 1 football, or direct route,   remained the style of English football lower divisions.

Omid team lacked proper team work, lacked ideas, initiatives, running with the ball and without it. Their positioning on the field was odd and ineffective, their finishing left a lot to be desired. The team has not scored a single goal during the run of the game all were from dead ball situation.

Obviously, Kranjcar has either failed to deliver the message or his own style of football is way out of date, but in any case, it is quite difficult to imagine this set of player with this style of football going far.

Individually, this team has some very talented players such as Reza Sheakri and Omid Noorafkan plus a few, but as a team , there is a big question mark on whether Krancjar and his coaching staff can gel them together to produce a force to be reckoned with in Asia.

Standing of the 2nd Ranked team in Groups

Pos Group Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 H  Australia 2 2 0 0 12 0 12 6
2 I  Myanmar 2 2 0 0 11 0 11 6
3 B Palestine 2 2 0 0 10 0 10 6
4 D Saudi Arabia 2 2 0 0 8 0 8 6
5 K  Vietnam 2 2 0 0 7 0 7 6
6 C  Iran 2 2 0 0 6 1 5 6
7 J  Malaysia 2 2 0 0 4 0 4 6
8 E Syria 2 2 0 0 4 0 4 6
9 A  Oman 2 2 0 0 3 1 2 6
10 G Korea DPR 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 4
11 F  Tajikistan 1 1 0 0 2 0 2 3

Iran Omid 3-0 Yemen

Iran U-23 National Team (Omid) defeated Yemen 3-0 on Sunday in Azadi Stadium to maintain its challenge for qualification to the final rounds of the AFC Asian U23 Championship Thailand 2020 and the Tokyo Olympic Games men football competition.

All the three goals were scored in the second half and all were from Headers. Reza Shekari headed the first goal from a corner, Reza Jabeireh added the second from a rebound also with a header, while the pick of the lot was Mehdikhani’s incredible back header from a free kick.

All of Iran’s 6 goals scored so far have been from set play as no goals were scored in the two matches from love play. This is very worrying trend as it seemed from the beginning of the match that Iran’s Omid team is offensively ineffective and depend on the old school of crosses from the wings to forwards in the box for scoring.  Yemen, gallantly put up a good fight and could have scored from the few chances they had.

This match was a continuation from the same old shortfalls of the match against Turkmenistan. Poor team work . old style and basic football, lack of penetration from the middle , general lack of positional awareness, and disconnect of midfield players with forwards marred today’s performance against Yemen.

The match against the powerful Iraqi teams will be decider for Iran. Anything short of a win, will risk the Team elimination from the competition and a loss of another opportunity to make the Olympics, a 39 years wait for Iran. Despite two wins in a row, the goal difference for the second position is not very healthy for Iran as other teams in the Asian groups have some sizable advantage.  So, Iran really needs to win against Iraq to be assured of a place in the finals.

Omid Team 

Meraj Esmaeili, Omid Noorafkan, Alireza Arta, Abolfazl Jalali, Mohammad Aghajanpour, Abolfazl Razzaghpour, Mohammad Khodabandehloo, Mehdi Mehdikhani, Mehdi Ghaedi, Reza Jabeireh , Mohammad Reza Azadi

Substitution 2ND HALF

Rwza Shakari & Hossein Saki (46 min)


Reza Shekari (55)

Reza Jabeireh (66)

Mehdi Mehdikhani (75)

Omid starts with a win – Iran U23 3 -1 Turkmenistan U23

Iranian U-23 Omid Team commenced its long road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics football competition with a victory against Turkmenistan at Azadi Stadium on Friday.

Iran won 3-1 with goals scored by an own goal, Omid Noorafkan and Reza Jabierah

Although Omid won with a two goal margin, it was far from an easy game and the result was too flattering for the host with Turkmenistan , a persistent and strong team giving the host a run for their money. All the goals of the match were scored from set pieces.

At the Azadi Stadium, about 1,000 fans watched this game with the majority obviously opting to spend the Nowrooz holidays away from football.

Iran Omid Team,  already aware of the result of the earlier game between Iraq and Yemen, with the former comprehensively winning 5-0,  seems to be in urgency to open the scoring early. However, poor organization & finishing, smart defending by Turkmenistan and generally uncertain game plan, they could not reach the opponent’s goalkeeper except for a few times. While the Iranian players failed to score, it was a friendly fire which did the job for them. In the 35th minute a ball cleared from the goal line hit a Turkmen defender and it deflected back into his own goal, 1-0 to Iran.

This was result by the end of a scruffy first half in which the Omid team was far from impressive or organized.

In the second half, Iran appeared to be more calculated and calmer perhaps as the result of the pip talk by the coach. There were no more ideas of an easy win against a stubborn and physically stronger Turkmen team.

However, against the run of play , Iran was awarded a free kick in a perfect area just behind the box in the 53rd minute. The resulting free kick was beautifully dispatched by Captain Omid Noorafkan, whose shot penetrated the defensive wall and hit the far left corner of the goalkeeper

While Iran was happy to play out the game with a 2 goal lead, Turkmenistan hit out.

In the 74th minute, Turkmenistan got a corner kick, which was met by the towering Giordonov who headed the ball beautifully to the left of Meraj Esmaeili in Iran’s goal reducing the margin to a minimum. Suddenly, it was game on and Iranians started panicking.

In the remaining 15 minutes, Omid team played a defensive game thus inviting more pressure from the opponents, who were the more likely team to score the equalizer.

Iranian players were more concerned with maintaining the result than attacking and despite venturing forward on limited occasions, one such attacks ended up with a free kick

It was late in the game  when lady luck saved Iran. The Turkmen goalkeeper failed to hold a ball from the resultant free kick and the ball dropped in front of the Reza Jebeirah who headed from close range to score Iran’s third and seal the game.

While the result of the match was quite satisfactory for Omid Team , the performance was far from it. This team looks incoherent at best and has no natural leader in the field. Perhaps the relatively young age of the majority is one factor. There is distinct lack of maturity in their football with silly and uncalled for showboating such as scissor kicks in impossible situations, back heel passes that did not work or excessive dribbling by Ghaedi who looks like typical back-alley footballer.

One noticeable observation on the Iran bench was the number of people sending instruction to players. At one stage, it looked like Hamid Estili was the head coach with his touchline instructions, then it was the turn of Reza Sharoudi and even Chalangar, who is Kranjcar’s interpreter got on the act !!!

The team is definitely a work in progress which needs a lot of improvement. On Sunday, there will be an easy game against Yemen which they expect to win, but the last match against Iraq is far from easy

Iran U-23 Line up:

Meraj Ismaili; Alireza Arta, Mohammad Aghajanpour, Sina Zadmehran, Mohammad Moslempour, Mehdi Mahdikhani, Omid Noorafkan, Vahid Namdari (78 AbolFazl Razaghpour), Mehdi Ghaedi, Amir Roustaei (63 Reza Jabierah) and Mohammad Reza Azadi

A Milestone for Younis Delphi

The young footballer from Khuzestan set a new record in Iranian Football. Younis Delphi, born in Shush, was a member of the Esteghlal Khuzestan Club and has featured in the 2016/17 season by playing five matches for the Full team.

During two and a half years, Delphi was considered by many as one of the greatest talents in the League, whose brilliant performance has also led to his invitation to Omid Team (Iran U23) despite his young age. The fledgling and upcoming striker scored 7 goals in the previous season in 24 Premier League matches and added the FIFA U17 World Cup, held in India to his resume.

That tournament attracted many European scouts looking for young talented players to recruit. A few months back there were discussion about Delphi transferring to the Dutch club, Eindhoven, but the opposition by his club Esteghlal Khuzestan put an end to that transfer as the club would not release him at the start of the new season.

Younis Delphi, however, eventually became a legionnaire in the winter transfer window when he signed a contract to join Sporting Charleroi of Belgium. This club which is owned by an Iranian has attracted several Iranian players in the last couple of seasons such as Kaveh Rezaei, Ali Gholizadeh and Omid Noorafkan

Last Sunday evening Sporting Charleroi hosted Fourth placed KV Oostende at Stade du Pays de Charleroi. Younis Delphi, was included in the squad for the first time since his transfer. In the absence of the other Iranian player, Ali Gholizadeh who is suffering from a leg injury, Delphi made his debut. With the presence of Younis Delphi in the Charleroi team, he becomes the youngest legionnaire in Iranian football history with 18 years and 129 days. It is a good age to start gaining experience of European football. The match between Charleroi and Oostende ended 1 -1. Delphi played for 64 minutes and was substituted midway through the second half.

Omid Team scores 5 against Kuwait

Iran’s Omid Team (U23) defeated Kuwait 5-0  in the second match of the Round-Ribbon invitational tournament in Qatar. After losing to Tajikistan in the first match, the Iranian team bounced back with a vengeance against Kuwait and ended up scoring five goals without reply.

Kranjcar’s players took control of the game from the very first minutes of the match and managed to open the scoring as early as the 3rd minute through Alireza Arta’s shot. Iran continued to put pressure on the opponent’s goal throughout the match , while Kuwait was content with defending.

In the 40th minute, Sayyad-Manish scored  from a rebound after the Kuwait goalkeeper failed to hold on to the ball.  First half ended 2-0 with a decisive superiority by Omid Team.

In the second half, again, Iran continued the same with superior control and possession. The third goals was just a matter of time. Younis Delphi scored the third , five minutes after the start of the second half in the 50th minute on a clever ball stealing and accurate shot from an acute angle.

Hosseinzadeh scored the fourth in 54th minute with a precise shot to raise the pressure on the Kuwait team.

Omid Noorafkan was the fifth Iranian player on the score sheet, with a precise free kick in the 72nd minute. After the fifth goal, the humiliated Kuwaitis resorted to rough and aggressive play with some wild tackles flying. As a result , Iranian players retaliated in the absence of proper protection from the referee. In the aftermath of one such intense clashes, two players from each team were shown the red card. Amir Roustaei and Kuwait defender received their marching order in the 80th minute.

 In the 90th minute, Hamid Taherkhani was sent off as well , for Omid team to continue with 9 players , however the match ended with an emphatic 5-0 win for Iran’s Omid Team.

Qatar and Iran will play the final match on the 21st of January in Aspire Training field in Doha. Kuwait will meet Tajikistan in their last match.

Iran Omid team defeats Oman 2-1

Iran’s Omid Team (U-23) defeated its host Oman 2-1 in the friendly match played at Sultan Qaboos Stadium, in Muscat Oman.

Zlatko Krancjar started the match with Shahab Adeli, Omid Darreh, Omid Noorafkan, Abolfazl Razzagpour, Mohammad Aghajanpour, Ali Taheran, Mohammad Khodabandelo, Mehdi Ghaedi, Reza Bachari, Mehdi MehdiKhani and Allahyar Sayadmanish.

The first half ended 1-0 for the host after Oman scored on the 40th minute of the match.

Iran’s Omid Team had many good scoring opportunities but the Omani goalkeeper saved them all, at times with heroics.

In the second half, Krancjar sent on Abolfazl Jalali, Amir Roustahi, Hamid Taherkhani, Hassan Saki and Isma’ili to the field. In the 52th minute, Ali Taheran scored the equalizer from a perfect cross by Taherkhani. Two minutes later, Mehdi Ghaedi scored the winner from a set piece.

Omid Team list for Oman match is announced.

Zlatko Kranjcar has announced the list of 22 players who will join the U23 team for the friendly match against Oman on 20th November.  The match will be held in the Omani Capital Muscat and is a part of the preparation for the upcoming challenge at continental level and the qualifying for the Olympics.


the squad


Abol Fazl Jalali (Saipa)

Abolfazl Razzaghpour, (Peykan)

Ali Taheran (Tractoration Tabriz)

Allahyar Sayadmanesh (Esteghlal Tehran)

Amir Roustaei, (Peykan)

Aref Aghasi (Foolad Khouzestan)

Hamid Reza Taherkhani (Persepolis)

Hossein Saki (Sanat Naft Abadan)

Mehdi Ghaedi (Esteghlal Tehran)

Meiraj Ismaili (Zob Ahan)

Mohammad Aghajanpour (Padideh Mashhad)

Mohammad Khodabandehlo  (Peykan)

Mohammad Mehdi Mehdikhani (Padideh Mashhad)

Mohammad Reza Azadi (Tractoration Tabriz)

Nader Mohammadi (Peykan)

Omid Darreh (Saipa)

Omid Noorafkan  (Chareloi )

Reza Jebeireh  (Sanat Naft Abadan)

Reza Karimi (Esteghlal Tehran)

Reza Shakari (Rubin Kazan)

Shahab Adeli (Sepahan),

Sina Zamehran (Padideh Mashhad)