Tag: Reza Ghoochannejad

Team Melli top stars

When Team Melli kicks off the opening match in St. Petersburg against Morocco on June 15th, all eyes will be focused on Sardar Azmoun. Majority of websites and sport media profiling and analyzing Group B of this FIFA World Cup 2018 competition, single out the Rubin Kazan’s forward Azmoun as Iran’s best hope and the star player.

Of course, this is a compliment to the 22 years old who has an outstanding scoring record at international level and at such a young age. Azmoun could very well end up as the single most influential player in Team Melli and deservedly so. However, based on statistics and form, the Rubin Kazan forward is a distant third or even fourth in Team Melli top performers of the season.

The top performer accolade goes for Alireza Jahanbakhsh , the brilliant  AZ Alkamaar winger who has topped the Dutch league scorers chart, thus becoming the first ever Asian Player to do so in a major European league. An exceptional prospect and an all-round player, Jahanbakhsh can supplement Sardar Azmoun in the front but he is also well capable of outdoing Team Melli’s main striker and grabbing all the glory. The 24 years old Jahanbakhsh has what it takes to beat the Spanish and Portuguese defenses. He scored 21 goals for Alkamaar this season which is 10 more goals than his tally for last season.

On the other hand, Azmoun has scored only 5 goals for Rubin Kazan this season. He never hit double figure in scoring at club level in his professional career, a far cry from his record at Team Melli level which has a stunning 23 goals in 32 matches.

Two more plyers have better records than Sardar too. Karim Ansarifard, Olympiakos Piraeus striker who has scored an impressive tally of 17 goals in the Greek league, and Heerenveen forward, Reza Ghoochannejad who has scored 9 goals in the Dutch league, both have better return in the leagues than Iran’s golden boy Azmoun.

Although it is difficult to compare the league form to those at the highest level of football, as the World Cup definitely is, Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s impressive season and ability cannot be overlooked and the chances of him outshining his teammate is absolutely a possibility.

What all that means for Carlos Queiroz at the end of the day, is that he is spoiled for choices up front. Now if he can only sort out his fragile back line.

President Rouhani receives Teami Melli delegation

The President of Islamic Republic of Iran congratulated the players and the technical staff in a meeting with the national football team (Team Melli).

 President Hassan Rouhani, Minister of Sports and Youth Masoud Soltanifar , Team head Coach Carlos Queiroz, and Cruz on behalf of the technical staff, Masoud Shojaei, Ehsan Haj Safi, Ashkan Dejagah, Karim Ansari Fard, Pejman Montazeri, Reza Ghoochannejad and Alireza Beyranvand were honored on behalf of the players and the secretary of the Football Federation and the head of the national team.

Rouhani also praised Iran’s refereeing team at the World Cup. Alireza Faghan, Reza Sokhtaneh and Mohammad Reza Mansouri are Iranian referees in the World Cup.

In this ceremony, Jersey No.2 of Team Melli was awarded to Hassan Rouhani.

Team Melli  which is  heading for the second consecutive World Cup and its fifth time in the World Cup, met with President Hassan Rouhani today (Sunday) and will be scheduled for a few minutes at a ceremony held at the Vahdat Hall of Tehran.  Hassan Rouhani met with members of the national team four years ago on the occasion of the national team’s ascent to the 2014 World Cup.

Ali Alipour, challenging for a place in Team Melli.

Ali Alipour, with sterling performances in the Persian Gulf League and the AFC Champions league has finally convinced Carlos Queiroz to pick him for Team Melli squad.

Iran is preparing for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, where they are grouped with Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

Born in Ghaem Shar on 11th November 1994, young Alipour grew up in the wrestling champions breeding province of Mazendran This northern province, where the tradition wrestling rules  supreme, has produced countless number of world class wrestling champions and Olympics medals winners, however, this young man was determined to be a champion in a different sport, his beloved football.

Alipour started playing football with with Nassaji Mazandaran in 2011 in the lower leagues before making his dream trip to Tehran and joining Rah Ahan in 2013. . He first made his professional debut in 2012 at the age of 16 with Azadegan League club Sang Ahan.

In his two years in Rah Ahan, Alipour hardly managed to set the stage alight scoring only 3 goals in 25 matches.

However, it was in Persepolis, where he started to make a name for himself. He started as a sub for the club but steadily went up the pecking order until he became a fixed player and a prolific scorer. On May 2015, Alipour became a cult hero .  

On May 15, 2015 Alipour scored in the Tehran derby against Esteghlal, making him the youngest ever player to score in the famous and iconic Derby, with only 19 years of age. 

It was only a matter of time for Queiroz to recognize the talented center forward who has a knack of scoring fancy goals. The AFC Champions League is a testament for this talented 22 years old. Under Branko Ivankovic , the Persepolis coach, Alipour has thrived and continues to develop to a classy forward.

His selection to Team Melli will not give him a guarantee of playing time as the competition is stiff up the front. With Sardar Azmoun, Reza Ghoochannejad who is playing his best season in Holland, Karim Ansarifard enjoying similar success in Greek league ,  Alireza Jahanbakhsh continuing his excellent form and finally Mehdi Taremi , now in Qatar Star League, Alipour is far from being assured a place in the World Cup squad, let alone playing in the world biggest football show.

Alipour, however, remains a potential winner and a hard worker with talent and pace and good enough to seriously challenge for a place in the Team Melli.

Team Melli on track for the Uzbekistan match

Team Melli is on course in preparation for the crucial match against Uzbekistan on Monday.

FIFA announced the name of the referees for the match. Ahmad Abu Baker Said Al Kaf from Oman will be assisted by Hamed Suleiman and Abu Baker Saleem. The fourth referee is Omar Mubarak all from the Sultanate of Oman.

The Omani referee was the fourth official in 4 matches in the recent FIFA World Cup U-20 championship 2017 in South Korea. He was not assigned any matches to referee. His last international match was in Sydney on 27th March 2017 refereeing the match between Australia and UAE which the host won 2-0.

Meanwhile, the FFIRI has encouraged the fans not to go to Azadi Stadium in matchday unless they carry a ticket on hand. The ticket sales for the match against Uzbekistan is all on-line through a dedicated website. No tickets will be sold on the match day from kiosks.

FIFA was given assurance by the FFIRI and the security authorities that strict measures and tight security will be implemented on match day following the terrorist attacks Parliament and the Ayatollah Khomeini mausoleum a few days back.

Carlos Queiroz is relying on his team’s solid defence with a perfect defensive record of not conceding a goal since the opening match, while he will be deploying  a powerful offensive line up front to unsettle the Uzbek defenses. Azmoun has been in top form , while both Ansarifard and Ghoochannejad had their best ever forms playing in Europe. domestically , Mehdi Taremi has been the best Iranian forward and the league’s top scorer.

To supplement the forwards, Jahanbakhsh and Vahid Amiri will be feeding the attackers with their runs and crosses on the flanks , leaving Dejagah and Ezzatollahie to cover the middle of the field.

There are no injuries worries to report in the squad , however , Ashkan Dejagah is short of match practise and made a short appearance for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga following a long injury. Ramin Rezaeian is without a club after he was sacked from Persepolis , nevertheless the defender form was quite good against Montenegro in the recent 2-1 win.


Mission China; Team Melli needs all the 3 points in Azadi.

Iran’s match against China on Tuesday will be a real test for the newish look Team Melli after their fine display against Qatar in Doha which ended in a 1-0 win scored by Mehdi Taremi. In retrospect, it was not an impossible task in Doha and the win was achieved with certain level of comfort unlike the match in Azadi at the beginning of the competition.

Azmoun & Taremi celebrating

Mehdi Taremi was one of 3 up front strikers in what look a sweet adventure by Carlos Queiroz. Team Melli has reached this status, undefeated, top of the table and not conceding a single goal in the competition yet, as the result of Queiroz philosophy of tight & solid defense. A solid back , be it three or four , has served Queiroz well and his omission of Seyed Jalal Hosseini , the most expected and senior player in the squad , but who is also performing quite awfully for his club, proved how much importance Queiroz puts on reliable, steadfast and consistent defenders. Pouraliganji replaced Hosseini at the heart of the defence and he hardly put a foot wrong. It was a clever move by Queiroz who must have considered Pouraliganji’s familiarity with the Qatar players as an added advantage on top of his excellent form.

Queiroz was rewarded for it.

The midfield was another spot of worry since the regulars were all missing. Ashkan Dejagah & Ando Teymourian have not even made the list, while the squad was lacking strength in depth in the defensive midfield area.

However, Saeid Ezatollahie , a young an upcoming player, Ehsan Hajsafy, already a veteran at 27 years only and Ali Reza Jahanbakhsh created a solid trio in the center of the field and excelled in both their offensive and defensive duties. The midfield, maintaining a pace of the match that suited Team Melli tactics, creating lots of opportunities for the forwards, helping out in defense, and  finally controlling the match with time ticking away, was a major factor in this victory.

In the forward line, Carlos Queiroz is spoiled for choices and every single one of them in addition to the benched Reza Ghoochannejad had excellent season with their respective clubs. The dilemma with Queiroz was which one to pick. Granted, the forwards missed many chances to kill the game as early as the 60th minute, but their performance and contribution to backing the midfield during oppositions attacks, was a delight to watch.

Carlos Queiroz

Now about the goalkeeper. Team Melli have not been successful with keepers after the era of the AhmedReza Abedzadeh. Young Biranvand has certainly some potential, but there are some mentality and behavior issues with this keeper. His petulant acts is a source of concern, in the match against Qatar, it earned him a yellow card, but more serious than these juvenile roleplays , is his tendency to get his choices wrong while jumping for crosses or when he needs to save a shot.  He needs a lot of growing up and some real good coaching on his timing and when to use his fists rather than the palm of the hands.

  Overall , it was an excellent performance by Team Melli.

China seems to experiencing a revival of their own as their narrow but valuable win against their perennial rivals South Korea proved. will be a good test for Team Melli. Last time round in China, the home team frustrated Team Melli and closed the roads to their goalkeeper very well. The style of play has improved under Marcello Lippi and the Chinese seem to play a better game, more confidence and with some superb passing moves. The style is more of ground passing and less dependence on aerials. The Chinese forwards are perhaps not so effective in finishing and there are a few question marks about their defense marking, but the team looks much more solid and capable of beating any opposition.

The predication for this encounter is difficult, suffice to say it will be tight and difficult affair.

Azadi passionate crowd will have a major role to play. The vociferous and enthusiastic support will assist in gaining all the three more points of the match. This might not translate in early celebrations for Team Melli as that fate will be delayed until this summer. Direct qualification will only be known after the game with Uzbekistan on 12th June, if that.

Glorious days for Iranian strikers in Europe.

Team Melli strikers in Europe, are rewriting the history and reaching feats that their predecessors did not manage or was unthinkable. 

Reza Ghoochannejad, Sardar Azmoun , Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Karim Ansarifard the four players who happened to be all playing up front in their teams have done Iran’s football pride by consistently scoring goals in the most competitive of leagues.

Reza “Gucci” Ghoochannejad , who had a torrid couple of season in the lower English League and Persian Gulf countries, gradually found his form after transferring  to SC Heereneveen in the Eredivisie. Gucci scored his 14th goal of the season yesterday in a 3-0 win against Roda JC Kerkrade .

Sardar Azmoun, the golden boy of Iran has scored 7 goals for his team in various competitions, including 4 goals in one season of the UEFA Champions League. He is the only the second Iranian player to score in this competition after Ali Daei who scored 6 goals in two seasons for Hertha Berlin in the UEFA Champions League.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh who has been playing professional in the Eredivisie for 4 seasons now although he is only 23, has enjoyed a good run with his club AZ Alkaamar. He has already doubled his tally from last season scoring 6 goals so far for the Dutch club.

Karim Ansarifard whose football career was seriously being undermined while warming the bench at segunda Division Osasuna in Spain, made it good after transferring to the Greek league. With Panionios he scored 14 goals in one a half season before being grabbed by the league leader Olympiakos Piraeus in the winter transfer window. Karim already opened his account with Olympiakos by scoring a brace in UEFA Europa league against Turkish side Osmanlispor.

.It has never been so good for Iranian players in European leagues. Household names such as Ali  Daei, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Ali Karimi , Vahid Hashemian, Karim Bagheri and host of other Iranian players played in Europe especially after that famous FIFA 1998 World Cup. However, despite the relative success , it is definitely not comparable to the success that the current group is enjoying in Europe despite Team Melli lack of success or achievement.


Iranian-British Ryan Tafazolli sought by Queiroz..

Iran’s national manager Carlos Queiroz has been keeping an eye on Peterborough defender Ryan Sirous Tafazolli who, though born in England, is qualified to play for the country through his father.

The 6ft 5in defender, who started out in the same Southampton academy team as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, has had rave reviews since moving from Mansfield in the summer.

Queiroz, best known here from his days as Sir Alex Ferguson’s No 2 at Old Trafford, will have noted that 25-year-old Tafazolli got on the scoresheet in the 2-0 win at Charlton which moved Peterborough

into the League One play-off places.

Queiroz has previously sought the services of many different Iranian dual nationality players. Only Reza Ghoochannejad and Ashkan Dejagah remain with team.

the 25 years old Tafazolli is born on  September 28, 1991 (age 25), in  Sutton, United Kingdom. With his height of 1.94 m and a weight of 93 kg, he is a formidable and intimidating figure in the centre of defense.

Syria ; Team Melli’s tough opponent.

Team Melli will meet Syria on Tuesday in the hope of extending its lead in the group ahead of Korea and Uzbekistan who will be meeting an hours earlier in Seoul World Cup Stadium.

The FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifiers will reach the halfway line at the end of this round.

War-torn Syria has elected Malaysia as the home base,  which is indeed a poor choice in hindsight, according to coach Ayman Hakeem. However , the Syrian team has had a relative success in results and managed to draw with South Korea, win against Qatar and narrowly lose to Uzbekistan and Qatar.

On the other hand Team Melli is enjoying the view from the top after 3 wins and a draw. Despite the low number of goals tally of average of 1 goal per game, the defence has not been penetrated yet after 4 games. On paper , it is highly unlikely that Syrian forwards who only manged to score 1 goal in the competition so far, will test the solid  Iranian defence despite the fact that Iran is missing its number 1 goalkeeper Biranvand due to Injury.

 With 3 key outfield players missing , including the prolific forward Sardar Azmoun , Iran will not be enjoying the supremacy of the last few matches up front, but that is far from the team being handicapped. Both Reza Ghoochannejad and Karim Ansarifard , playing in European leagues, have been outstanding for their clubs and are in top form. The duo scored 5 of the 8 goals in Team Melli last match against Papua New guinea, with Gucci scoring his first ever hat trick at international level.

Historically , Iran rules supreme in the head to head matches.winning 13 of the 23 matches while losing only once and that was back in 1973.

Despite the impressive figures for Iran, Syria has never been the punching bag and always remains a tough competition at all levels. This current Syrian squad is no exception and could very well spring a surprise and against the form. The battle between the groups worst attackers (Syria) and the best defender (Iran) will hardly see a floodgate opening. Syria has a solid defense too  and coach Ayman Hakeem will be looking to some rapid counter attacks in the hoping of getting all the 3 points.

Ayman Hakeem, Syria
“This is a very difficult game. Iran is a strong team and in very good form at the moment. We can see that it is not easy to score goals against them, as they are well-organised.

“We need to keep to our game plan and then we can get a good result. We will have to be at our best and work hard for each other. All these games in this stage are very difficult but we have shown that we have our own strengths too and we have managed to produce some good results”

Carlos Queiroz,  Iran

“From a tactical aspect, it is not easy to come and play in Malaysia but in respect to Syria, we are here to win. So far we have collected ten points in four games and that is a good start. We have scored four goals in those games and while that is not ideal, it is because of the strength or our opponents.

“If we can keep scoring one or two goals in every match and not concede then I will be happy. All games at this stage are difficult and intense and this is a big responsibility for a coach. We have to play against good teams like Syria and always perform to our best but then on the other hand, we know that Iran are tough opponents for other teams in the group too.





H / A / N Matches Won Draw Lost Goals + / –
Home 10 4 5 1 19 – 8 +11
Away 7 5 2 0 10 – 3 +7
Neutral 6 4 2 0 7 – 2 +5
Total 23 13 9 1 36 – 13 +23

Pooladi and Shojaei relegated in QSL.

Al Shahaniya club lost its final match in the Qatar Star League QSL against Al Ahli and were relegated to the second division. Al Shahaniya which has two Team Melli players Mehrdad Pooladi and Masoud Shojaei in their squad , were just promoted last season. The two Iranian players started with the team from the beginning of the season , but their efforts were fruitless and could not help keep the newly promoted team in top flight for more than one season.

Al Shahaniya finished in 13th position with 20 points 7 points ahead of the bottom team Al Shamal which is also relegated along with Al Shahaniya.

Al Ahli which is coached by the ex-Sepahan coach Zlatko Kranjcar and has Jalal Hosseini and Mojtaba Jabbari playing for them finished the season at 5th place. Hosseini and played Pooladi played the full match for their respective teams , while Masoud Shojaei was introduced as a substitute from the second half. Jabbari is currently injured.

Al Wakrah which has Reza Ghoochanejad in their squad , just missed on relegation by beating Al Gharafa 2-1 in the final round of the QSL a result that ensured their survival. Al Wakrah finished with 23 point at 12 place just above the relegated Al Shahaniya. Ghoochanejad made a cameo appearance for Al Wakra when he replaced Ahmad Koheyl Substituted in the final 5 minutes of the game.

QSL title was won by Lekhwiya for the fourth time in their history.

Ghoochannejad to Al Wakrah Club in QSL.

Team Melli’s forward, Reza Ghoochannejad is on the final stages of completing the formalities to join Al Wakrah Club in Qatar Star League QSL.

Ghoochannejad who was released by his last club Al Kuwait SC and was not desired back at Charlton athletics, has found refuge in Qatar to become the sixth Team Melli player who play in the QSL. Ghoochannejad’s departure from Al Kuwait was mainly attributed to financial issues rather than performance in the very modest Kuwait League.

Ghoochannejad is carrying out his medical and pending successful result of the medical test , he will sign a one year contract with the Qatari club currently lying 12th in the 14 clubs league and only one place above the drop zone and relegation.

Other Iranian players in the QSL are: Ashkan Dejagah (Al Arabi) , Pejman Montazeri (Umm Salal) , Masoud Shojaei & Mehrdad Pooladi (Al Shahaniya) , Mojtaba Jabbari & Jalal Hosseini (Al Ahli).  Umm Salal is the highest ranked QSL team with Iranian player at 5th place while the rest of the clubs lying in the lower regions. Al Shahaniya is already in the drop zone with 12 points , 4 points less than Al Wakrah one place above them.