Tag: Reza Ghoochannejhad

Reza Ghoochannejhad scores a hat trick for PEC Zwolle in the Eredivisie.

The former Team Melli and current PEC Zwolle forward Reza Ghoochannejhad (33 years) scored a hat-trick in the match against Willem II to lead his team to a 3-1 victory in the Dutch Eredivisie League.

 Ghoochannejhad was substituted in at the start of the second half and scored his opener in the 58th minute to level the match after the first half ended with host Willem II leading by a goal to nil. He scored again four minutes later to put his team ahead 2-1.

On the 70th minute,  PEC Zwolle was awarded a penalty which Reza Ghoochannejhad took and score to complete his hat-trick.

It was a major performance for the Iranian forward whose appearance has been limited for his team. He has scored 5 goals so far and this hat trick should improve his chances for more minutes in the future. PEC Zwolle is ranked 11th in the table. Ghoochannejhad joined PEC Zwolle in September 2019 and has played 26 matches scoring 9 goals in two seasons.

Ghoochannejhad played his last game for Team Melli in a friendly international in Azadi against Uzbekistan. The match ended 1 – 0 for Iran.

Ghoochannejhad played a total of 43 games for Iran scoring 17 goals in a career from October 2012. 

Iran seek qualification for world Cup 2018

  • Iran will book qualification for Russia 2018 with a home victory
  • Japan can establish a three-point lead in Group B if they prevail 
  • Both Thailand and Iraq will play for nothing but pride

Asia’s qualifing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is approaching its first watershed moment with Iran in sight of reaching the global finals. A victory at home against third-placed Uzbekistan will be enough to send Carlos Queiroz’s Team Melli through to join qualified Brazil and hosts Russia at next year’s extravaganza. Korea Republic, meanwhile, travel to Qatar targeting three points with their sights fixed at a potential second qualifying spot from Group A.

In Group B, Japan arrive at Tehran to take Iraq knowing that an away victory will move them three points clear of arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Australia, both of whom are level on points. Trailing the giant trio by seven points, United Arab Emirates face a must-win scenario if they are to maintain their slim hopes of a play-off place. Join FIFA.com as we take a closer look at the upcoming action across Asia.

The match
Iran-Uzbekistan, Azadi Stadium, Tehran, 21:15 local time

The importance of the match needs no explanation for the hosts, who can progress to Russia 2018 with three points. Carlos Queiroz’s side will look to both their home support and dominant head-to-head record against the visitors which has seen them win five of the seven past meetings. The Uzbeks can take heart from their only victory against Iran, which was a solitary-goal away victory at Tehran at the same stage on the road to Brazil 2014. Samvel Babayan’s side are motivated by the potential of leapfrogging the Taeguk Warriors into the section’s second place with a victory.

Both sides enter the match in winning form. Uzbekistan defeated Thailand by 2-0 in a recent friendly while Iran beat Montenegro by the same scoreline with hotshot forward Sardar Azmoun grabbing a brace. Uzbekistan will count on veteran Alexander Geynrikh to continue his super-sub role while in-form Odil Ahmedov remains the man skippering the side.

The other attractions
Also in Group A, Korea Republic arrive in Doha hoping to prolong their undefeated qualifying record against hosts Qatar, having won three and drawn one from the past four meetings. Coach Uli Stielike has called back former AFC Player of the Year Lee Keunho to enhance their potency up front and the visitors will hope to pick the brain of midfielder Nam Taehee for some insider information, who recently earned the Qatar FA Player of the Year award for helping Lekhwiya to their fifth Qatari league title.

Syria entertain China PR in Malaysia aiming to cut the gap to Uzbekistan. The West Asian side will be keen to replicate their 1-0 win against the Chinese in the return game in October. However, they must make do without top striker Omar Kharbin who is ruled out through injury. The visitors, under Marcello Lippi, enter the game with their sights firmly fixed at three points, but their growing injury list sees both striker Yu Dabao and captain Zheng Zhi absent.

Iran’s Reza Ghoochannejhad (R) celebrates with teammate Soroush Rafiei after scoring a goal against UAE during their Asian Cup Group C soccer match at the Brisbane Stadium in Brisbane January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su (AUSTRALIA – Tags: SOCCER SPORT)

Things in Group B look even tighter after Australia edged Saudi Arabia 3-2 in Adelaide on Thursday. The result confirmed the elimination of Iraq and moved the Socceroos level with both Japan and Saudi Arabia on points. The competition may become harder with three games left but Japan, leading on goal difference, are all too aware that they can establish a three-point cushion at the summit with a victory against Iraq. 

Elsewhere, UAE arrive in Bangkok knowing they must win to realistically keep their hopes of reaching Russia alive. The visitors have boasted a dominant head-to-head record with four wins out of five, including prevailing 3-1 at home in the first-leg meeting. An away victory may look within the UAE’s grasp but they will underestimate the Thais at their peril, considering they conceded three unanswered goals in the same Rajamangala Stadium on the road to Germany 2006.

Did you know?
Iraq and Thailand, both from Group B, are already eliminated with three matches left.

What they said
“We lead our group, we have no defeats and we conceded no goals. However, we are not yet in the place we want. Our game is not over yet. If we want to succeed, there is one price to pay. Victories never come cheap. In this moment, only full sacrifice will take Team Melli to the place we all dream of,” Carlos Queiroz, Iran head coach.

Matchday 8 fixtures
12 and 13 June

Group A:
Qatar-Korea Republic
Syria-China PR

Group B:
Australia 3-2 Saudi Arabia (8 June)
Thailand-United Arab Emirates

Ghoochannejad wonder goal.


Heerenveen’s Reza Ghoochannejhad scored a stunning goal against Wolfsburg 

 Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United & Armenia) and Olivier Giroud (Arsenal & France) have both scored high-profile scorpion kicks for their respective clubs in the last month, and now one of Dutch club Heerenveen’s attackers is at it too!

Following the Manchester United and Arsenal strikes, Team Melli forward Reza Ghoochannejhad took advantage of a low cross drilled in behind him by flicking it over his head and into the back of the net.



The wonder goal helped Heerenveen to defeat Wolfsburg 2-1 in Saturday’s friendly fixture during their winter break training camp.

They return to competitive action – when Reza will dream of scoring another scorpion kick no doubt – next Saturday against Den Haag.

Feng Xiaoting confident ahead of China’s World Cup qualifier vs. Iran



China captain Feng Xiaoting is confident he and his teammates can put their World Cup qualifying campaign on track when they take on Iran in Shenyang as they aim to bounce back from Thursday’s defeat against South Korea.

China almost rescued a point from their meeting with the Red Devils, fighting back from three goals down to lose 3-2, but the performance has given Feng and his colleagues confidence ahead of their next qualifier for Russia 2018.

“We lost the game but we haven’t lost our faith,” said the Guangzhou Evergrande central defender. “On the contrary, we gained experience and the ability to play in a difficult situation.

“I’m very proud of my teammates. Next Tuesday we will win the game against Iran in Shenyang.”

A win will be vital for the Chinese after their opening loss and Gao Hongbo’s team take on an Iran side that picked up a 2-0 victory over Qatar in Tehran in their first qualifying match, with Reza Ghoochannejhad and Alireza Jahanbaksh both scoring in added time to give Carlos Queiroz’s side a winning start to their campaign.

However, veteran midfielder Zheng Zhi, who scored an own goal on Thursday to give the Koreans the lead, echoed Feng’s thoughts on the feeling within the China squad after the defeat.

“It’s a pity for us that we lost 3-2,” said the former Asian Player of the Year. “It should have been a draw. We didn’t give up when we went three goals behind because we prepared well in advance and this is how football should be. Good preparation gives you confidence.

“The qualifying campaign is long. There are 10 rounds so it is like a league season and we have to prepare different strategies for different opponents.

“But from this game, what we have gained is confidence and faith, and also experience. It is a good start of our long journey.”

Team Melli forwards score in Europe.

Two Iranian players scored for their teams in European leagues to help their clubs grab three points in their respective leagues.

In London ,  Sheffield Wednesday delivered their worst performance of the season as they crashed to a 3-1 defeat at managerless Charlton Athletic this afternoon. Iranian contribution came from the recently injury recovered Team Melli forward , Reza Ghoochannejhad.

in the 55th minute Ghoochannejhad tapped in inside the six-yard box following a lovely move involving Makienok and Fox to score Charlton’s third goal.

While in Greece Panionios ‘s Karim Ansarifard scores the winner for his team vs. Platanias to keep his club challenge for a runner-up position ans a place in the European competition. Ansarifard chipped the ball inside the net beating the opponents keeper. 


For both players,  Reza Ghoochannejhad and Karim Ansarifard, scoring was quite timely as the pair have suffered difficult periods of dearth of goals for club and country. The two crucial matches in Tehran and away to Guam this week will go a long way in determining the final ranking of the table in the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers Group D. Both players are included in Carlos Queiroz list.  Ghoochannejhad’s goal is especially welcome after the player has suffered a long-term injury which put him out of action for months.



FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualification

Asian Zone

Round 1


#   Team MP W D L F A D P Last 5 matches
1 Previous rank: 2 5 3 2 0 9 3 +6 11 WDDWW
2 Previous rank: 1 4 2 2 0 11 2 +9 8 DWWD
3 Previous rank: 4 5 2 1 2 5 6 -1 7 WWLDL
4 Previous rank: 3 5 2 1 2 3 8 -5 7 LDLWW
5   5 0 0 5 3 12 -9 0 LLLLL




Team Melli players ratings.

Team Melli has completed the group round with a perfect record of 9 points with 3 wins out of 3. This is the same achievement of the last Asian Cup participation in Qatar 2011 when Iran beat , Iraq, North Korea and UAE to top the group.

The performance of the players is always under scrutiny and while some players have been hyped in exaggeration and given titles such as “Iran’s Messi” , the reality is nowhere near the fairytale stories that many fans fantasize about.

Despite the 3 wins, it was far from easy matches or walkovers for Iran, however , there was no surprises there as most experts expected this group to be a tough and tight one with all the teams so familiar to each other’s style. There were some excellent performances in Team Melli and with it some disappointments. Overall, the hard work, the experience and perseverance of Team Melli made the difference. Whether this success is sustainable is another question that is not so simple to predict.


Poor team preparation

The sharp eyes of the critics noticed how the poor preparation has affected Team Melli. If we take the last match against the UAE as an example, the difference in the preparation between the two teams was sticking like a sore thumb.

While the UAE players could telepathically find each other when passing or crossing the long balls, Iranian players pass completion rates were not so brilliant and made a poor reading. There were many easy passes missed because of short time that this group has worked together.

In the front line, many opportunities were missed because of the timing of the passes, either too early or late. Heavy touches on the ball and lack of communication between players marred Iran games. Overall, there were more rough edges than the rest of the teams.  This is result of a team that has not been ideally prepared.


Another sign of poor preparation is the number of unnecessary fouls committed by Iranian players. Players in haste, were making some totally unnecessarily fouls. Sardar Azmoun’s silly, and that is being respectful, yellow card was a typical proof of the rough preparation.

One can only wonder what this bunch of talented Iranian players would have given us if there was a decent preparation.

Dip of forms of several players is an alarm bell for the team. Shojaei (31 years) , Hosseini (33 years) , Nekounam (35 Years)  and Teymourian (32 years) have all performed below par. On the other hand , there are a few promising , if not outstanding performances from the likes of Pouraliganji (22 years) and Azamoun (20 Years)

When Omar Abdulrahman dribbled his way so easily passed in the penalty box going past the two most experienced Iran players Nekounam and Teymourian inside the penalty, it was a sign of vulnerability of the two.  Omar Abdulrahman is one of the most talented players in Asia and a quality player and that is a fact, but regardless of that. When any player can easily pass the tight defense including the two best holding midfielder, then that is a problem for the coach.



Alireza Haghighi (GK) : Hardly put a foot wrong despite the fact that he was not really tested in all the 3 matches. When he was required to react, he was confident and made it look east. Very solid performance so far.  8/10

Mehrdad Pooladi: Rock-hard, no nonsense defender whose performance was slightly affected by several issues including late preparation for the season while seeking a club. Despite his rustiness, Pooladi was still as reliable as ever, perhaps not at his peak yet.  7/10

Jalal Hosseini: Not put to test in anger, however his lack of pace, heavy touches and nerves made him shaky at times. Still a vital defender with his vast experience but also a liability against more skillful forwards. 6.5/10

Morteza Pouraliganji: The surprising star performer. The rookie has displayed remarkable defensive ability in his role as central defender partnering Hosseini. On top of his fine defensive work, he was a threat on the other end during corners and free kicks. Could have well scored a goal with a header. 9/10

Vahid Amiri: Played one game only but he was impressive, nevertheless. His failing was the last touch; however he certainly has the ability and clearly he can replace some of the older members in the midfield anytime now. 7.5/10

Khosrow Heydari: given less playing time than the usual. The right back was far from impressive. Still has his quality on the flank, but his delivery been disappointing. Did not assist any goals and his famous inch perfect crosses where nowhere to be seen. 5/10

Andranik Teymourian: Hard worker and dedicated player who is clearly short of his true form. Had two assists from dead ball and played a major role in the overall defensive game plan, but Ando is way short of his best. Queiroz has no replacement for him in the current squad. 7/10

Javad Nekounam: His leadership is still valuable on the field , not so his contribution to the game. His form is going downward. Disappointing tournament so far and could be easily exposed in the midfield. Short of pace and breath. 5/10

Alireza Jahanbakhsah: The young man with so much promise, disappointed when he was given a starting role. He seemed lost in the match against UAE and was substituted without showing any sign of his promise. 4/10.

Soroush Rafiei: Another of the new faces that had a disappointing debut in the tournament. 4/10

Sardar Azmoun: Superb, especially when given the right service. He can be exceptional forward with surprisingly excellent heading ability.  There are rough edges in his game but with experience and more games, he would be a star player . 9/10

Vouriya Ghafoori: Very solid defender with calm and mature attitude. His work rate is remarkable. Not much can go through him while defending although his attacking role on the flank was rather inadequate. 7.5/10

Ashkan Dejagah: One of the best Team Melli players with skill and ability to beat the best. The Qatar match showed his weaker side, when tight man-to-man marking neutralized him. His value to the team was quite evident in the UAE match. When he substituted in, the team’s offensive capabilities improved significantly. Still not at his best in this tournament, perhaps his transfer from a top league to a lower quality one had affected him. 8.5/10

Reza Ghoochannejhad: Apart from the valuable winning goal he scored against UAE, his contribution was minimal. Lacks vision at crucial stages and needs more support to show his best side. 7/10

Masood Shojaei: No change from the Shojae of the last few years. Slow, unable to beat his markers and in general ineffective player. Can go a whole match without being noticed. On the poorest performer in the team considering his experience and reputation. 4/10.

Ehsan Hajsafy: Started the tournament really well against Bahrain with a master class goal, but gradually dipped in form.. Did  not play the last match, He does have several qualities though and still a vital member of the team. 7/10

Amir Hossein Sadeghi : Did not play enough minutes to be rated fairly.


Iran vs. Emirates Reports


Brisbane: Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has said the AFC Asian Cup Group C winners will head into the quarter-finals with a full squad ready to make a run at the title.
Queiroz tweaked his line-up for Iran’s 1-0 injury-time win over the United Arab Emirates on Monday and came away satisfied with how the entire team stepped up to unseat Mahdi Ali’s side from the top spot.

After making it a perfect three-from-three in the group phase, Iran will likely avoid defending champions and Group D leaders Japan at the first hurdle of the knockout stage on Friday.

“The changes reflected two yellow cards in the squad and one injury, as well as the chance to use some players with fresh legs especially in the front line,” Queiroz said.

“Now we have a full squad ready to play, both tactically and mentally, as the young boys gained some experience and did very well. My plan was also to use some aces later on if it was necessary, and the experience of the players that came on played a big role in the match.

“It was a good win against the UAE as in my opinion they are the best football team in West Asia – they have beautiful players and good combinations and have played together for a long time. It is difficult to play against them as they play like a club team.

“(We) showed good concentration and played with a fantastic attitude and were willing to sacrifice for the team. We played a passing game and were better than UAE in terms of penetration and movement. It was a great football game, very emotional and skilful.”

Samsung Player of the Match Reza Ghoochannejhad was one of those aces Queiroz referred to, winning the game in the 91st minute off the bench. Iran’s last-eight opponents will likely be Iraq in what could be a highly-charged affair in Canberra.

“Congratulations to both teams but I think Iran was more efficient today,” said the Kuwait-based Ghoochannejhad. “Luckily we scored in the dying seconds. Our team showed amazing spirit and chemistry. Right now everyone is happy but we have to focus on the upcoming days.

“There is still a chance we play Japan, but it’ll probably be Iraq. If we play Iraq it’s up to the coach. We trust the coach that tactically, he’ll come up with very strong organisation, with a good plan and we just have to do what he asks from us on the pitch.”




Carlos Queiroz interview




Mehdi Ali : We didn’t deserve to lose


Brisbane: United Arab Emirates coach Mahdi Ali said his team deserved points from their heart-breaking 1-0 defeat to Iran in Group C of the AFC Asian Cup on Monday.

UAE did not have a single shot on target against a very determined Iranian side who won the group after an intense affair at Brisbane Stadium where substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad ended the stalemate in stoppage time.

UAE only needed a draw to move on to the quarter-finals as the group’s first-place team but Ghoochannejhad’s 91st-minute header now have them facing a potentially very difficult opponent.

Carlos Queiroz’s Iran will face the runners-up of Group D which will likely be either Iraq or Jordan. UAE, on the other hand, are set to play the Group D winners, expected to be holders Japan.

“This is football,” Ali said. “Sometimes, you see the side of football you don’t want to see. We didn’t deserve to lose the game but we lost. Now we have to focus on our game against Japan.

“We were not playing this game to try to avoid Japan. We wanted to win the group because it would have given us more motivation for the second round. We don’t have a problem playing Japan or any other team.”

Ali did not make any substitutions and defended his decision to stick with the first team, saying he felt they were playing well enough to win the match.

“We didn’t make any substitutions because we were doing well,” he said. “We were playing good football and had many chances. That’s why we made no changes.

“The players knew they played well and I think that will help them relax a little bit. I thanked them for their effort and the game they played.”

The manager also defended his young playmaker, Omar Abdulrahman of Al Ain, who showed flashes of his brilliance but was neutralised by the Iranian defence for large patches of the game.

“Sometimes you play well and you lose,” Ali said of his playmaker. “I think Omar is talented and has a great future. He is one of the best players of the tournament and we are happy with his performance here.”

Iran 1 -0 Qatar : Match reports


A solitary goal eight minutes into the second half was enough to send Iran and United Arab Emirates through to the second phase with one game left to play in the group stage

Sardar Azmoun demonstrated why he is reportedly attracting the interest of top Premier League clubs with a sublime individual goal as Iran beat Qatar 1-0 in Sydney to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals and knock the Gulf champions out.

Rubin Kazan striker Azmoun has been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool and it was easy to see why on the evidence of his stunning second-half strike at the ANZ Stadium on Thursday


Azmoun produced a fine turn and finish to ensure Carlos Queiroz’s side will progress from Group C with the United Arab Emirates, both nations having won their first two games.

Iran beat Bahrain 2-0 in their opening game of the tournament last weekend and did just enough to see off Qatar, who produced a much-improved showing following their 4-1 hammering at the hands of the UAE but crash out with a game remaining.

Iran and UAE, 2-1 winners over Bahrain on Thursday, lock horns in Brisbane on Monday to determine who will finish top of the group.

Both sides looked short of ideas going forward in a frantic start, but it was Iran – backed by an impressive contingent of vociferous supporters – who looked more dangerous as the first half progressed.

Midfielder Karim Boudiaf came to Qatar’s rescue with a crucial intervention when Masoud Shojaei looked poised to get on the end of Ashkan Dejagah’s cross from the right 23 minutes in.

Iran were happy to let Qatar see plenty of the ball, before trying to pick them off on the break, although an initial lack of quality in the final third made it hard to see where the opening goal would come from.

Morteza Pouraliganji had a header cleared off the line by Ahmed El Sayed and Dejagah let fly with a right-footed strike that flashed wide of the far post as Iran ended the half on the front foot.

Queiroz’s side then moved in front seven minutes into the second period, and it was a moment of quality that was worth the wait as Azmoun sent the Iran fans into raptures with a sublime goal.

The 20-year-old took a pass from the lively Dejagah with his back to goal, spun Almahdi Ali with a sharp turn and kept his composure to apply a right-footed finish.

Azmoun’s night was cut short 10 minutes later when he was carried off with an injury, which did not appear to be serious, soon after Qatar had lost Ismaeel Mohammad to injury.

Mohammed Muntari had half a chance to draw Qatar level, but Ali Reza Haghighi comfortably saved the striker’s header.

Qatar pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but were unable to fashion one and crash out in disappointing fashion as Iran march on.


Iran beats Qatar to make Asian Cup quarter

Adrian Warren, AAP January 15, 2015, 10:12 pm

A sublime piece of skill from Sardar Azmoun booked Iran’s passage into the Asian Cup football quarter finals and condemned Gulf Cup champions Qatar to an early exit.

Sardar’s slick turn and clinical shot in the 52nd minute at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Thursday earned Iran a 1-0 win, their second victory from as many games.

It leaves them second in their group on goal difference behind the United Arab Emirates, who earlier in the day defeated Bahrain 2-1 in Canberra, and will now meet Iran in Brisbane next Monday.

Qatar, who were coming off a 4-1 opening game loss to the UAE, had a decent share of possession, but struggled to create good chances.

Russian-based Sardar’s goal delighted the vast majority of the 22,672 fans in attendance in Sydney, with Iran’s passionate and colourful fans ramping up the noise level of support to the max each time their team got close to Qatar’s penalty area.

Iran one of the pre-tournament favourites, were more consistently dangerous than Qatar and were good value for the win, which they achieved with a second straight clean sheet.

Qatar, who entered the tournament on a long unbeaten run, lacked penetration and didn’t get a single shot on target in the first half.

Just before halftime, Morteza Pouraliganji’s flying header from an Iran corner was headed off the line by Ahmed Elsayed, while Sardar had a firm fourth minute header saved by Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.

It was a similar story in the second half, even after an apparently injured Sardar came off just after the hour.

His substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad had four shots at goal, three of them saved, as Iran sought the cushion of a second goal.

The Qatar goalkeeper also had to push away a shot from Ehsan Haji Safi.

Qatar Substitute Meshaal Abdullah hit a post with a header in stoppage time, but he was judged offside.

Iran midfielder Andranik Teymourian was named man of the match.


Iran ‘unprepared’ for Asian Cup but ready to fight.

By: Attilla Mosony

International sanctions and lack of support from its own federation have threatened to derail Iran’s Asian Cup campaign. But the team says those setbacks have provided extra motivation to win.

As the top-ranked Asian Cup side, Iran carries the weight of expectations of a football mad nation of 85 million. But numerous issues have hindered the team’s lead up in the past six months.

So much so that coach Carlos Queiroz has declared his side the least prepared nation at the tournament. He says international sanctions and a lack of financial support from its own federation have threatened to derail the country’s Asian Cup campaign.

“Unfortunately we come to a situation that’s even worse than the World Cup, the international sanctions against Iran, we are struggling in all other actions and plans”

FIFA is still withholding almost $10 million in World Cup appearance money as a result of the sanctions, which led to the cancellation of training camps and pre-tournament games.

Since the World Cup in Brazil, the Iranians have only played one friendly match, against South Korea, before arriving in Australia. But despite the less than ideal preparations they are still considered one of the favourites. Striker Reza Ghoochannejhad insists his side can handle the pressure.

“Everybody is excited to play against Iran, and everybody is motivated, especially because we are coming from the World Cup, but this is the situation right now we can’t complain, we can’t make excuses,” he told SBS.

And for the large community of Iranian expats living in Australia the Asian Cup is a fantastic opportunity to watch their heroes live. On Sunday night 17,000 passionate fans turned up in Melbourne to create a little slice of Tehran.

The 2-nil victory over Bahrain was a huge relief for the team and fans following a troublesome build-up to the tournament. Queiroz says his side is determined to get on with the job by using its recent setbacks as motivation.

“We come here with our soul, with our art with our spirit, as we did before the World Cup, with our training session, using those problems and issues as sources of our inspiration

Iran face Qatar in its second group C match in Sydney on Thursday night.



03 November 2014 Joe Gorman

Growing up playing on dirt pitches and in the streets outside the Iranian capital Tehran, Alireza Jahanbakhsh idolised Brazilian star Ronaldo.

He grew up wanting to be a striker, and at just 21 years of age, Jahanbakhsh is now firmly established in Europe and has made several appearances for the national team under manager Carlos Queiroz. He is without a doubt one of the hottest properties in Iranian football.

After several seasons in Iran, the young striker made the move to Dutch club NEC Nijmegen.

According to the president of SC Damash in Iran, Jahanbakhsh’s transfer fee helped the club survive in difficult financial times, and it wasn’t long before he was helping his new club by scoring crucial goals in the battle to avoid relegation.

Having being voted one of the top young talents in the Eredivisie, Jahanbakhsh has come on the radar for several English clubs, with Manchester United and Chelsea both rumoured to be interested in his services.

In 2014, Jahanbakhsh was one of several exciting young players to be included in the Iran squad for the World Cup, however he didn’t start any of the games, instead coming off the bench for all three matches.

Alongside Karim Ansarifard and Reza Ghoochannejhad, another young Iranian who had played in the Netherlands, Team Melli will have some of the most exciting attackers in the Asian Cup.

A tall, lanky striker with speed and skill, Jahanbakhsh will be hoping help his nation win their first Asian Cup since 1976.