Tag: Russia

Rostov Midfielder Mohammad Mohebi Shines Despite National Team Commitments

Rostov, Russia — In a thrilling match during the 22nd round of the Russian Premier League, Rostov secured a resounding victory over Dynamo Moscow, triumphing with a 4-1 scoreline. The standout performance of the day came from none other than Mohammad Mohebi, Team Melli, and Rostov’s talented midfielder.

Rostov remained the only RPL team that did not lose points after the winter break. In the previous two rounds, Karpin’s team beat Krylia Sovetov (2-0) and Krasnodar (2-1).

After 22 rounds, Rostov are in 7th place in the RPL with 30 points. Rostov are one point ahead of Rubin and Krylia Sovetov (29 points each), who have one game in hand. In the 23rd round, Valery Karpin’s team will host Sochi. The meeting will take place on April 6 in Rostov-on-Don and will begin at 20:00 Moscow time.

Mohebi’s Remarkable Double and Assist

Mohebi’s impact on the game was undeniable. He not only scored a brace, finding the back of the net twice but also contributed an assist that helped secure Rostov’s dominant win. His versatility and ability to create opportunities for his team were on full display.

National Team Commitments: No Hindrance for Mohebi

Despite recently representing the Iranian national team in two matches against Turkmenistan, Mohebi showed no signs of fatigue. When asked about his readiness for the match against Dynamo Moscow, he responded confidently:

“I talked with the physical training coach both in the national team and in Rostov. They gave me a plan that I followed. I have recovered. Three days ago, I played a difficult game against Turkmenistan on an artificial pitch that was not of the best quality, but today I was fresh. Thank God we won.”

Mohebi’s dedication to maintaining peak performance levels is evident. His commitment to both club and country is commendable.

Team Effort and Personal Rituals

When questioned about his consistent goal-scoring prowess, Mohebi humbly deflected the praise:

“This is the merit of the whole team; we play as a unit. Sometimes you can score one, sometimes two. Today, we succeeded. Let’s move forward. After the game, I always talk to my mother. She’s my rock, regardless of the result.”

Indeed, Mohebi’s pre- and post-match ritual of calling his mother underscores the importance of family support in his career.

Memorial Match in Memory of Tragedy

The match against Dynamo Moscow held deeper significance. It was a memorial match dedicated to the victims and survivors of a terrorist attack in Crocus. Mohebi expressed his unwavering commitment to the cause:

“Even if the team did not go to the scene of the tragedy, I would go alone or with an interpreter. Having played in Russia for about seven months now, I’ve experienced the warmth and kindness of the people. I can only be grateful for this.”

Mohebi’s compassion and empathy extend beyond the football pitch, reflecting the spirit of unity and resilience.

As Rostov continues its campaign in the Russian Premier League, fans eagerly anticipate more stellar performances from the Iranian. His dedication, skill, and heartwarming gestures make him a true asset to both the club and the community.

Russia withdraws from CAFA tournament

Earlier this week it was announced that the Russian national football team has accepted CAFA’s invitation to participate in the first Central Asian Football Associations tournament in June of this year as a guest, with the presence of Central Asian teams, including Iran, but the Russians suddenly changed their minds.

The Russian Football Federation announced that this country will not participate in CAFFA. Today, “Valery Karpin”, the head coach of the Russian national football team, in an interview with the TASS news agency, explained the reason behind the withdrawal of this country’s team from CAFA after initially agreeing to attend. Karpin said that “the playing surface, the timing, and the weather conditions were the reasons for this decision.

Karpin said: There are several reasons. The first is the time of holding competitions. On June 11, the final of the National Cup will be held, and the decision to participate in the tournament should have been made in advance. The head coach of Russia added: You also have to consider the conditions of the competition. The tournament is in Tashkent or Bishkek. It is clear that the air temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius. I want to remind you that in Bishkek there is an artificial grass pitch where the risk of injury increases significantly. For example, after the game in Bishkek last fall, five players of the Russian national team could not participate in the next game.

In response to critics saying that the decision to withdraw from CAFA was wrong because Russia does not have many choices to play the preparation game on FIFA Day, he said: “Yes, our choices are not really great, but this does not mean that we sacrifice the health of the players and the opportunity to spend vacations. be completely deprived of them. Moreover, this is not an official tournament, but a friendly tournament. If participating in competitions is part of the preparation for official competitions, it may be worth the risk.”

The head coach of the Russian national team emphasized the future plans of the team: “The officials of our federation will do their best to hold friendly games in the next windows of the International Football Federation (FIFA) calendar, including in June. We hope that the negotiations will bear fruit and we will be able to hold a full preparation camp with a couple of matches. Ideally in Russia and with our fans.” According to Mehr’s reporter, Iran’s national football team hoped to be in this competition with the presence of Russia and experience some serious tests. Now, with the withdrawal of the Russians, it is not clear whether Team Melli will go to Kyrgyzstan or not. In his latest interview, the head coach of Iran’s national team, Amir Ghalenoei, said that participation in CAFA is conditional on holding a meeting with Mehdi Taj, the president of the Football Federation.

Meanwhile, some Russian football experts are already critical of the Russian decision to withdraw, with some sarcastic remarks about Karpin’s reasoning. especially about the temperature of 30 degrees C. It seems that Karpin’s players are built for arctic weather football only and will melt in the temperatures of 30 degrees.”

Valery Ovchinikov, a former Russian player and coach, was also critical of the decision and commented by accusing the Russian team of being afraid of possible defeat against Asian teams. Ovchinikov said: “The weather is a good excuse not to participate inCAFA. We don’t play in the summer. We are used to the cold! He continued sarcastically: The Russian Football Federation probably thinks that our football is played by the Chukchi people (indigenous people of Russia who are close to Siberia). We mustn’t go to the racetrack in the summer or we’ll melt!”

CAFA Championship to be held in Jume 2023 and Team Melli will be there too.

FFIRI website has officially confirmed Team Melli’s participation in the CAFA Championship to be held in June 2023.

The 2023 CAFA Championship will be the 1st edition of the CAFA Championship, the biennial international men’s football championship of Central Asia organized by the Central Asian Football Association (CAFA). The event will be held in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan from 9 June to 21 June. Iran, Kyrgyzstan (Host), Russia (invitee), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (Host) will form the two-group championship.

This championship which was been on and off several times was first supposed to be played in Uzbekistan in 2018, however, it was never played for various reasons. Even this current one was under doubt until the announcement by FFIRI. Iran is in the first pot of the draw along with Russia according to FIFA Ranking. It is expected that another invitee team will join the championship. This will be a good test for Amir Ghalnoei in preparation for the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

How is Team Melli under Ghalenoei?

With one win and a draw already under his belt, Ardashir (Amir) Ghalenoei seems to have started well in his second term with Team Melli.  The nucleus of the previous team is still intact as Ghalenoei used most of the players who qualified Iran for the world cup under Dragan Skocic and then briefly in the World Cup finals, under Carlos Queiroz. However, the addition of several new players and the return of previous ones has given a slightly different shape to the same team.

Overall, Team Melli played delightful football in both matches, despite some shortfalls that need to be worked upon by the coaching team. The passing of the ball, finding spaces, defensive coverage, crosses from flanks, and counterattacks were all carried out to acceptable to good standards. The shortfalls were in the poor finishing, final ball delivery, mental agility, and the chronic shortfall of Iranian players, general slowness. While modern football demands quick and swift thinking by footballers, Iranian players seem to take extra seconds to make such moves.


The match against Kenya was particularly worrying in the sense that the Iranian players could not physically match the Kenyan team! The African players won most of the one-to-one tackles which mostly ended up with the Iranian hitting the lawn with both arms raised up in protests to no avail. Physical strength and body build have always been one of the better attributes of Iranian footballers throughout the years. It is important to keep that up, especially against stronger teams. It is also important by Ghalenoei to instill some discipline and discourage play-acting.

Although not much can be read from the two matches, and not much can be presumed from Ghaleoei’s public statements, it seems that a fresh mentality is going to dominate Team Melli’s playing style. Under eight years and something, Team Melli fans were exposed to the dour defensive-minded style of Carlos Queiroz. Ghaleoei has a different mindset and we do hope it is aimed toward more attractive football that appeals to the fan but of course, not to the detriment of results. Offensive footballs require such tools as gameplans with several options and competent skillful players to finish the moves. On the face of it, Team Melli has players up front that play in the highest standard leagues such as Azmoun, Taremi, and Sayyadmanish with the newer generation players such as  Amir Hossein HOSSEINZADEH and Arya BARZAGAR waiting for their chances.

These players have proved time and again their worth.  It is up to the Ghalenoei to utilize the skills of such talents. There is a small problem with finishing for Taremi, perhaps he is experiencing a down in his performance, but he and his teammates cannot be so wasteful and profligate as they have shown in these two matches.

There are no shortages of talent on the defensive line and the goalkeepers, so that is the least of the worries.

The biggest challenge for Ghalenoei remains the midfield. It is the line where the forwards must receive quality and timely service in order to finish the job. The present complexion of the midfield is not so hopeful. Unfortunately, Jahanbakhsh who mainly operates mainly as a winger has been facing form degradation recently with erratic performances. Ezzarollahi seems to have stagnated and his value remains on the defensive side, Ali Gholizadeh is one of the better players that Ghalneoi may focus on for the offensive side, Nourollahi is another player whose value varies between one match and another. Saman Ghoddos came with such promise, but he is yet to deliver consistently. Team Melli has no midfielder that can take the game by the scruff of the neck. There is no such player in the current generation of footballers, unfortunately.

So, the lack of creative, quality, and consistently good midfield players will remain Amir Ghalenoei’s biggest challenge.

One bright side of the two matches was the introduction of Sepahan’s midfielder Mohammas Karimi. Hardly a household name in Iran, the former U20 Team Melli player, performed very well in the first half and was one of the few good players while he was on the field. There seems to be a player that can serve Team Melli well if given the chance. In the contrast, his club teammate Moghanlou was utterly wasteful, out of place, and at times, lost in the lineup of Team Melli in both matches. No doubt he played and scored well with his club, but in the two matches at an international level, he remains way out of place.

The dilapidated Azadi stadium is in danger!

The unsafe conditions of the facilities and the tribunes of Azadi Stadium has been a topic that has been discussed umpteen times by the Iranian sports press, now it is the turn of the guest and this time the Russians to see from close the dangers facing anyone going to the stadium.

While the national Russian football team played a friendly in Iran, it was an opportunity for the  Russian media to get a close look at the sporting facilities and in particular the grand old Azadi Stadium to report on the state of this stadium. Azadi Stadium, which is in its worst condition with the local media repeatedly warning about the dangers and its insecurity, has now become the subject of Russian media. In a report, the ‘championat’ news site discussed the conditions of Azadi Stadium for the match between Iran and Russia and wrote about the bad conditions of this stadium: “When you enter Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, you have a strange feeling. A beautiful trophy greets you upon entering the stadium, although it looks very out of place here; Especially considering the dilapidated state of the stadium. It has been raining in Iran for the past few days. You enter a room under the stands and water is dripping from the ceiling. To be honest, water flows everywhere in this stadium. It seems like the arena is about to be destroyed.”

The “destruction” of Azadi Stadium is a prediction that the local media have been talking about for a long time. Now the voices of the Russians have come out and they have emphasized that water leakage from everywhere from ceilings in the rooms below the uncovered stands. Amazingly these observations by the Russian guests occurred despite the fact that there was no rain on the day of the match between Iran and Russia, and these waters have accumulated from the last two previous days.

Azadi Stadium has been neglected for many years. Signs of dilapidation and decay are everywhere from the cement stands that fans use as weapons to throw on the field to the washrooms, to the offices and properties that are below or at the ground level of the stadium.  The worrying question is whether the officials in charge of this great facility will act in time before a disaster occurs and people lose their lives. History tells us that public safety is not the top priority in Iram=n.

Azadi Stadium is 52 years old and opened as the Aryamehr Stadium.  The stadium was ordered to be built by the late Shah of Iran with eyes on the Asian Games of 1974.  It was inaugurated on 17 October 1971 by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,

Iran draws with Russia in a friendly.

Team Melli tied Russia 1-1 on Thursday at the Azadi Stadium. Both goals came from penalties scored by Anton Miranchuk ( 28′) for the Russians, while Mehdi Taremi leveled with his penalty at the beginning of the second half.

It was quite a decent start for Amir Ghalenoei in his return to the Team Melli bench after 15 years from his first stint. Iran was the better team in both halves and dominated the games for a long time. It was Mehdi Taremi and his teammates who deprived Iran of a deserved win with wastefulness and some erratic final shooting. Moghanlou, Mohebbi were also guilty of missing golden opportunities.

Russia was neither short of practice nor individual skills and the sanction imposed against the Russian athletes does not seem to have affected their performance. Valery Karpin seems to have a good job with the domestic league players. There were some delightful moves from the guests in Azadi and some quick counters, however, Iran was solid at the back, and the combination of central defenders, Khaikzadeh and Kananizadegan, who were the key defenders in qualifying Iran for the World Cup, were forming a formidable front to protect Beiranvand goal.

It was a clumsy challenge by Ezzatollahi that cost Iran a penalty.

With Azmoun absent, Mohammad Mohebbi and the debutant Shariyar Moghanlou filled in to support Taremi. However, despite the support from the flanks especially from Ramin Rezaeian, the forwards failed to turn those chances to goals. Moghanlou had a debut to forget.

Overall, it was quite a good challenge for Ghalenoei as he becomes more familiar with the players and the roles they can fill in.

Next will be Kenya, a lighter opponent but a physically strong team.

Andranik Teymourian joins Team Melli coaching staff.

Amir Ghalnoei has recruited the former Team Melli captain,  Andranik Teymourian as an assistant coach joining the coaching staff today.

Teymourian was introduced to the players by the Ghalenoei before the training started today thus starting his coaching career in the national team.

Before this, Rahman Rezaei, one of the former players of the national team with the experience of playing in the World Cup and the AFC Asian Cup, was added to the staff of Amir Ghalenoui, but Rezaei, for reason not declared, did not turn up for the first training session and then subsequently turned down the job. Amir Ghalenoei went to Teymourian, who was one of his players in the national team of Iran and Esteghlal. Team Melli is currently in camp and preparing for two friendly matches with Russia and Kenya.

Russia negotiating with UEFA and FIFA on their future.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) is negotiating with FIFA and UEFA to retain eligibility to participate in competitions with friendlies already lined up.

The Russian team will play a friendly match against Iran in Tehran on March 23 and are also due to face Iraq on March 26 in the city of Saint Petersburg.

They will also be participating in the Championship of the Central Asian Football Association, which will involve Tajikistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan, and is due to be held from June 9 to 21 in Bishkek and Tashkent.

FIFA and UEFA were both on the list of sports associations that banned the Russians for the invasion of Ukraine on February 21 2022.

The ban was imposed exactly one week later on February 28.

The Russian national team was due to face Poland in a qualifier for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, with the winner going on to face Sweden for a spot in the finals, but the ban took effect before the match and Poland got a pass through the round.

Russia were disqualified from the 2022 World Cup when they were two wins away from claiming a spot ©Getty Images
Russia were disqualified from the 2022 World Cup when they were two wins away from claiming a spot ©Getty Images


Since the ban, the Russian national football team have participated in three friendlies, defeating Kyrgyzstan 2-1 in Bishkek and drawing with Tajikistan in Dushanbe and Uzbekistan in Tashkent, with both matches ending goalless.

Denis Rogachev, the RFU deputy secretary general, spoke on the current state of the national team in a meeting of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture and Sports.

“The activity of the national team is not frozen,” Rogachev said, as reported by Russia’s official state news agency TASS.

“It has suffered greatly, we do not experience a flow of people who want to play with us. This is a very difficult negotiation process, negotiations are underway to participate in the Championship of the Central Asian Football Association in June. We have retained corporate rights to participate in FIFA and UEFA, but we are negotiating with colleagues about a phased return to competition.”

“I can’t add anything new. ”

The RFU had an appeal to return to FIFA and UEFA rejected by the CAS in May 2022 ©Getty Images
The RFU had an appeal to return to FIFA and UEFA rejected by the CAS in May 2022 ©Getty Images

“A working group has been created, a negotiation process is underway with UEFA and FIFA on a phased return. “A FIFA Congress was held in Africa, and there will be elections of the UEFA President, which we will attend.

“The process of restoring our rights as a priority option provides for keeping us in European football, but all scenarios are being considered.” The RFU attempted to appeal to overturn the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but failed to meet the deadline for the filing of the complaint. The CAS already rejected the return of Russia to tournaments in May 2022 after a majority vote by members on the matter.

The 2018 World Cup hosts will be looking to return to international competitions, as well as competitions for their club teams such as the UEFA Champions League.

Azmoun withdraws from Team Melli camp.

Team Melli’s training camp the preparatory games against Russia (March 23) and Kenya (March 28) that started today was joined by several legionnaires but with a notable absentee.

Domestic league players, who have been invited to the national team camp, have introduced themselves to the technical staff this morning at the Olympic Hotel. Ahmed Noorolahi, Mohammad Hossein Kananizadegan, and Shoja Khalilzadeh, the three legionnaires playing in the UAE and Qatar have also been added to the national team camp. It is reported from the camp that Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun has requested the national team’s coaching staff to be excused from joining this camp. Apparently, Azmoun will not accompany the team in the upcoming games with Russia and Kenya due to family reasons and with the permission of the head coach.. Azmoun’s presence in the team camp was especially important for Russian media and experts because of his time with Rubin Kazan, Rostov, and Zenit for many years, and was considered one of the best foreign stars of the Russian league.

Hossein Hosseini, Hossein Pourhamidi, Alain Dinka (GK coach) , Alireza Bairanvand and Payam Niazman.

Today, the Football Federation also introduced the assistants of Amir Ghalenoei. According to this, Saeed Elhawi, Rahman Rezaei, Ali Asghar Ghorban Alipour, Alian Dinka (Goalkeeper Coach of Tractor ) and Ali Kamangari (Analyzer) are members of the national team’s technical staff. Due to the limited time between the end of the league games and the start of the camp, the first foreign assistant to the head coach of the national team will be introduced after this camp, and another Iranian coach will be added to the current staff.

Amir Ghalenoei announces his first squad

Amir Ghalenoei has picked up his first squad ahead of the two international friendlies against Russia and then Kenya both in Azadi Stadium, Tehran.

There were no major surprises as the bulk of the previous Team Melli squad was picked. Ghalenoei, however, did not call eight players from the previous squad of Carlos Queiroz. Karim Ansarifard, Saman Ghoddos, Ali Karimi, Milad Mohammadi, Abolfazl Jalali, Morteza Pouraliganji,  Amir Abedzadeh and Majid Hosseini. Apart from the latter who is injured, the rest have been suffering performance issues or warming their club’s benches.

One of the notable absentees is Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, of Hull City in the championship. Although he is back after a longish injury deprived him of playing, it seems that Sayyadmanesh still requires more time to fully recover.


Of the new players, many of them passed 25 years of age bracket, Hezbavi of Team Melli U19, is the most significant. Despite his good performance in Uzbekistan in the AFC U19  Asian Cup 2023, he was unable to lead the team to the finals, although his selection to Team Melli is a good consolation.


the squad

Position No. Player Club Age Caps
MF 1 Ahmad Nourollahi Shabab Al Ahli (UAE) 29 28
MF 2 Ali Gholizadeh Kasimspor (TUR) 26 29
MD 3 Alireza Jahanbakhsh Feyenoord (NED) 29 66
GK 4 Alireza Beiranvand Persepolis (IRA) 30 54
FW 5 Amirhossein Hosseinzadeh Charleroi (BEL) 22 3
DF 6 Aref Aghasi Foolad Khuzestan (IRN) 26 2
DF 7 Armin Sohrabian Gol Gohar Sirjan (IRN) 27 0
MF 8 Ehsan Hajsafi AEK Athens (GRE) 32 122
GK 9 Hossein Hosseini Esteghlal (IRA) 30 8
FW 10 Hossein Kanaani Al Ahli (QAT) 28 36
GK 11 Hossein Pourhamidi Aluminum( Arak (IRN) 24 0
DF 12 Mehdi Hosseini Mes Rafsanjan IRI) 29 0
FW 13 Mehdi Taremi Porto (POR) 30 63
MF 14 Mehdi Torabi Persepolis (IRA) 29 39
MF 15 Milad Sarlak Persepolis (IRA) 27 11
MF 16 Milad Zakipour Sepahan (IRA) 27 0
DF 17 Mohammad Amin Hizbavi Foolad Khuzestan (IRN) 19 0
FW 18 Mohammad Hossein Eslami Zob Ahan (IRI) 22 0
MF 19 Mohammad Karimi Sepahan (IRA) 26 0
MF 20 Mohammad Mohebi Esteghlal (IRA) 24 3
DF 21 Omid Noorafken Sepahan (IRA) 25 15
GK 22 Payam Niazmand Sepahan (IRA) 27 1
FW 23 Ramin Rezaeian Sepahan (IRA) 32 48
FW 24 Reza Asadi Tractor Tabriz (IRI) 27 0
FW 25 Reza Shekhari Gol Gohar Sirjan (IRI) 24 0
GK 26 Roozbeh Cheshmi Esteghlal (IRA) 30 21
DF 27 Sadegh Moharrami Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 26 21
MF 28 Saeid Ezatolahi Vejle (DEN) 26 50
FW 29 Sardar Azmoun Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 27 68
FW 30 Shahriar Mughanloo Sepahan (IRA) 28 0
DF 31 Shoja Khalilzadeh Al Ahli (QAT) 33 25
MF 32 Vahid Amiri Persepolis (IRA) 34 68