Tag: Sadegh Moharrami

Saleh Hardani added to the Team Melli squad

According to the Football Federation website, Dinamo Zagreb right-back Sadegh Moharrami is out of the squad for the Four Nations tournament in Jordan due to an injury in a club match. His replacement is Saleh Hardani.

The updated list is as follows:

Alireza Biranvand, Payam Niazmand, Seyed Hossein Hosseini
Ehsan Haj Safi, Milad Mohammadi, Shojaa Khalilzadeh, Mohammad Hossein Kananizadegan, Morteza Pouraliganji, Mohammad Daneshgar, Amin Hizbavi, Saleh Hardani, Ramin Rezaeian, Roozbeh Cheshmi

Saeid Ezzatollahi, Ahmad Noorollahi, Mohammad Mohebi, Javad Hosseinnejad, Saman Ghoddos,

Mehdi Taremi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mehrdad Mohammadi, Karim Ansarifard, and Sardar Azmoun

In the first session of training, only 10 players turned up with the rest of the players trickling in from several destinations. Persepolis players were given a rest after their match to recover.

Team Melli players in European Club competitions

The European Clubs championships will start in earnest this evening with matches in the UEFA Champions League UCL on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by the Europa League which is traditionally played on Thursdays.

6 Team Melli players will be involved in the European club competitions this season. Mehdi Taremi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sadegh Moharrami, Sardar Azamoun, Ehsan Hajsafi and Milad Mohammadi. We will look at the individual players’ performances in the early season, their effectiveness for their clubs, chances of playing, and chances of their club qualification to the next round. The three competitions they are involved in are the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and Europa Conference League.

Mehdi Taremi (FC Porto): presently he is without a doubt the most prominent amongst the Team Melli legionnaires possessing the highest value for his club. Being a key player with Porto and a title defender, there are a lot of expectations from Taremi. Despite some off-the-field distractions, that might have affected him, he returned back to what he does best by scoring the winning goal away to Estrela da Amadora last weekend. This season, Taremi started 4 out of 5 club matches.

FC Porto is in Group H which has the mighty Barcelona as the favorite, but also the Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk and Belgian Royal Antwerp. It is a tough group but Porto remains in contention for one of the two qualifying places.

Playing Status: Starter
Effectiveness: 8.5 out of 10
Chances of qualifying: 70%

Alireza Jahanbaksh (Feyenoord): The Team Melli Captain is not experiencing the best of times. His form has dipped considerably and he is now glued to the bench in the Eredivisie with Feyenoord. He played in two out of 5 league matches with only one starting and one as a substitute. Jahanbaksh neither scored nor provided any assists this season.

Feyenoord is in Group E of the UEFA Champions League along with favorites Atletico Madrid, Celtic, and Lazio, It is an even group but hardly an easy pass for Feyenoord, which will start with a match against the Scottish Champions Celtic on Tuesday 19th September.

Playing Status: Substitute
Effectiveness: 3.5 out of 10
Chances of qualifying: 68%

Sadegh Moharrami (Dinamo Zagreb): The Team Melli right-back has been having a good season with the Croatian champions. His rating has been amongst the best and also provided one assist in the 5 matches he has already played for the club.

In the Europa Conference League, Dinamo Zagreb is in Group C along with; Balkani (Kosovo), FC Astana (Kazakhstan), and Viktoria Plzen (Czechia). The former is the closest rival to Dinamo Zagreb. The first match is on Thursday 21st September.

Playing Status: Starter
Effectiveness: 7.5 out of 10
Chances of qualifying: 80%

Sardar Azmoun (Roma): After a shaky season with Bayer Leverkusen marred by long-term injuries, Azmoun is now on loan with AS Roma coached by Mourinho. Team Melli striker will not enjoy the UEFA Champions League this term as Roma is playing in the Europa League. Azmoun made his debut last Sunday as a late substitute for Romelo Lukaku in a 7-0 thrashing of bottom Club Empoli

Azmoun had a slow season start so far in Rome mainly due to injuries he carried from Leverkusen plus some personal issues. AS Roma is in Group G with FC Sheriff, Servette, and Slavia Prague and will begin the campaign with the Modovan Champions FC Sheriff on Thursday 21st September.

Playing Status: Substitute
Effectiveness: 4.5 out of 10
Chances of qualifying: 75%

Ehsan Hajsafi (AEK Athens): Team Melli Captain and most capped player has had a mixed season with the club. He has started 1 out of 3 league matches although he was also a starter in the UCL Qualifiers which AEK Athens lost narrowly to Antwerp.

AEK Athens is in a strong group that includes, The Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion, Ajax Amsterdam, and Marseille. It is arguably the strongest group in the Conference League and the Greek club needs to be at its best to have a chance of qualifying. The mission starts on Thursday with a match away to Brighton.

Playing Status: Substitute
Effectiveness: 6 out of 10
Chances of qualifying: 35%

Milad Mohammadi (AEK Athens): started 2 of the 3 matches in the Greek league and played the full 90 minutes each time as a left-back. He seems to be growing in confidence this season after a mixed season in 2022/2023.

Playing Status: Starter
Effectiveness: 6.5 out of 10
Chances of qualifying: 35%

Dragan Skocic’s fears and hopes

The Croatian coach’s survival and leading Team Melli in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is quite certain, but Skočić still has concerns.

Hamshahri newspaper, in an article about the current status of Team Melli, wrote: “The finalization of the friendly match against Canada on the morning of June 6th is a very good event; It is both technically useful for the national team and shows that the uncertainty of the football federation has not affected Team Melli after all. This game should be considered auspicious. Surely Dragan Skucic is happy too. The Croatian head coach of the national team felt the danger of being fired after the defeat against South Korea in the Nowruz ceremonial game, but now it seems that his position is steadfast and solid.

Even for some time after the World Cup draw, some saboteurs pushed the idea of a much higher profile world-class coach will is needed for Team Melli in Qatar instead of Skocic, but if there was a will to do so, it would seem futile and nothing more than feeble lobbying that found very little attention and consideration. . There are only six months left until the start of the World Cup, and the friendly matches of Team Melli are being fixed with Skocic. Therefore, the Croatian is relieved that he will lead the Iranian national team in Qatar and is focused on hard work.

However, that is not to say that Skočić is worry-Free at this stage, for the challenge is huge and far from simple. Is Canada enough? Many claimed that for various reasons, the game against Canada is a good and precious opportunity for the Iranian national team; Both their football is similar to USA’s and they are a good and strong team. Anyway, Canada managed to win four points from the United States in two games, and our game and theirs will surely benefit us. However,  just this one game to prepare for the biggest football show on the planet is not enough for Team Melli.

It is said that the rest of the package of friendly matches is supposed to be completed with the games against the likes of New Zealand and Albania, but these matches are not very useful. In fact, there is a concern that the federation will feel satisfied after arranging the game with Canada and will not leave much to be desired for the rest of the friendly matches. It is a pity if that is the case. Do not forget that we are playing against England, the most expensive national football team in the world at the moment. Wales or Scotland may be added to the Iran group and we need to play with a team that has such characteristics.

Which posts are missing?

Dragan Skocic, however, should also have concerns about some of the national team posts. For example, the right-back position is a very serious challenge. Skocic’s favorite choice for the post is Sadegh Moharrami who does not seem to be the fan’s favorite. Moharrami has long been lost in the club category. He has had a great performance at Dinamo Zagreb and even recently Branko Ivankovic criticized the club’s technical staff for benching the Iranian. The quality of Moharrami’s in Team Melli has been inconsistent. On the other hand, Ramin Rezaian returned to the Iranian league to show himself to Dragan Skoucic, but he was not very successful and failed to convince Team Meli selectors to include him in the squad. Rezaeian also has discipline issues. For Voria Ghafouri, his best years are behind him at this stage and almost done at the international level while Saleh Hardani lacks the experience that is required to help the Team in the World Cup.

If you have followed the Asian Champions League, you must have noticed the decline of Daniel Ismaili at that post.

Other positions of concern are defensive midfielders. Ahmed Noorullahi has not had an outstanding performance in the weaker team of Al-Ahly in the UAE League, while Saeed Ezzatullahi in the weaker team of Al-Gharafah in Qatar has only become in huge big margin defeats. Even recently, Milad Sarlak’s performance in Persepolis has had many critics. In general, Skocic should also be concerned about the decline of the Legionnaires. Alireza Biranvand, Ali Gholizadeh, Karim Ansarifard Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Ehsan Hajosafi, and some others have played very little these months.

Maybe the problem of some of these players will be solved by choosing a better team in the World Cup year. “In that case, we hope they will make an open-minded choice.” The reality is that Iranian Players do not easily integrate well n the western teams, the best problem being the language and work ethics. In the Iranian Domestic league, the way the players are developed and the relaxed and indisciplined attitude of the clubs, do not augur well for players to become legionnaires. Only a few percent of Iranians make it while most struggle and eventually return home.

Players rating vs UAE

Amir Abedzadeh : Another commanding, confident and perfect display. Despite the few attacks by the opposing team, Abedzadeh handled the ball and any aerial threat with ease and did not put a foot wrong, Oozes with confidence and that transmits to the defenders in front of him too [8.75]

Sadegh Moharrami : Disappointing premature game end for such a skillful half-back. His second yellow card and subsequent dismissal were unprofessional, reckless, and negligent for a player at the international level. We sincerely hope that a good lesson is learned  [5.0]

Omid Noorafkan : In the makeshift defense line, Noorafkan played well as a central defender partnering with Kananizadegan. Solid and steady although the UAE attacks were sparse and hardly threatening [7.7]

Milad Mohammadi: Had a quiet game, but it is apparent that this pacey defender has lost some of his finer touches. His ball distribution and passing lacked accuracy and was guilty of some bad passes [6.8]

Hossein Kanani-zadegan : Another solid performance at the center of defense. His timely header saved the Team a certain goal. Despite playing in an unusual formation with his regular partner (Khalilzadeh) missing, his coordination with Noorafkan was immaculate. [8.4]

Saeed Ezatollahi : Still wobbly and at times acts like a bull in a china store. The defensive work was as expected but he lacks consistency. Got himself booked for an unnecessary foul, then escaped another booking minutes later with a bad tackle. [6.7]

Saman Ghoddos : The second consecutive game in a row that Saman looks lackluster. It was not a difficult decision for Skocic to sacrifice him after Moharrami was dismissed. He made little difference in the team and lacked proper and accurate ball distribution for his teammates. It is a pity as Ghoddos is a highly technical and visionary football. He has yet to deliver at Team Melli though. [6.0]

Ali Gholizadeh : After a marvelous run late in the second half where he showed tremendous skills, his run towards the UAE goal and the feeble shoot on goal, while Taremi on his left was wide open, is bordering a crime. He did not have a good game like his partner Ghoddos. It is unsettling and as such robbing the team of creativity. Missed two glorious goal-scoring chances [6.3]    

Alireza Jahanbakhsh : Another top performance from the Captain of Team Melli. His enthusiasm, skill, and vision are going to be much needed if Iran has any aspiration in qualifying from the group stages of the World Cup. He is the Maestro of the team [8.9] Man of the Match

Mehdi Taremi : He delivers when needed. That goal against UAE was a poacher’s goal and that is what makes Taremi so special and a valuable asset to the team. He suffered from some fatigue especially when he had to return back and cover for the team missing a player, but still performed admirably [8.8]

Vahid Amiri : A few flashes of brilliance but Amiri like many of his teammates today lacked the high passing accuracy. It is expected from him to feed the forwards with crosses, but they were scarce and far apart thus hardly creating any threats. He still covered quite well in the back when needed. [7.5]


Ahmad Nourollahi : Found it hard to control the midfield after he came as a substitute. His one shot at goal was way off target., otherwise he had a quiet game. Perhaps recovering from Covid had some effect on his performance  [7.0]

Saleh Hardani : taking into account his status as a new member of the team, he played with confidence and boldness against quite a pacey UAE winger. He never let his guard down and filled Moharrami’s slot quite well. A very good prospect and a player that needs to be given more playing time [7.8]

Siavaush Yazdani Moghadam : Not enough playing time to rate him, but in the opportunity given, he played well without any problem.to be

A big call to make on Beiranvand!

Alireza Beiranvand, Team Melli’s number one goalkeeper, is going through some bad patch both at the club and national Team level these days. After conceding four goals in Boavista’s game against FC Porto to experience a bitter day against Mehdi Taremi and his teammates, he also conceded another five in the next game against Famalisao, in total he has conceded nine goals in two games.

However, this dip in performance did not seem to affect Dragan Skocic’s confidence as Beiranvand was picked in the starting lineup against Lebanon. As expected, he started the match in which he continued performing dreadfully against Lebanon. He still could not put things right and perform as well as expected from him.

Beiranvand was the main culprit in Team Melli conceding a goal in that match. Despite the oddity and the very strong possibility that the ball was in fact traveled well beyond the line out of play, he was nevertheless at fault for his unprofessional response. While he should have been watching the flight of the ball and being alert, he instead watched the linesman ignoring the field and raising his hand as if such action will stop the game! A clever and opportunistic Lebanon forward scored what must have been an easy gift the type of which he might never experience again at the international level.

It was a poor goal to concede even at a much lower level of competition, let alone a match in a World Cup qualifier.

The second major mistake of the day from the shaky Beiranvand came in the second half when he decided to dribble the Lebanese forward in his 6 yards area in the 55th minute of the game. As the forward was pressing on him and getting real close, in haste Beiranvand released the ball and gave it away to another Lebanon forward, waiting for a mistake, who had an empty goal in front of him, It was another gift for Lebanon!. Thanks to the great interception by Sadegh Moharrami that the shot was deflected to a corner saving Beiranvand and the Team.

A goal would have put Lebanon 2-0 up and the recovery would have been extremely difficult especially considering gift goals by Team Melli players.

There is no doubt that Alireza Beiranvand is a liability after consecutive poor performances. He is shaky and his confidence must be at the ebb. Starting him against Syria is now considered a great risk for the Team in which Skocic will be sitting on the stands as he is suspended. However, like Taremi’s absence, Team Melli has a solid bench for goalkeeping. Abedzadeh and young Niazmand are both capable and ready to slot in and relieve the underconfident Beiranvand.

Every footballer will have some downturn in his fortune and experience a bad performance patch. It remains to be seen if Skocic and the rest of the coaching staff will risk using Beiranvand against Syria, or exercise caution and rationale by choosing either of the two keepers.

The coaches of Team Melli must consider the effect of repeated failure on the psychology of a player.

There is a serious risk wherein if Beiranvand starts against Syria and heaven forbids, commits further mistakes that lead to a goal or goals conceded, the emotional uneasiness and the feeling of guilt will perhaps destroy the confidence of Alireza Beiranvand permanently ruining his career in the process. Rationale dictates that Beiranvand should not be exposed to possible psychological agony.

It is a big call for Skocic to make against Syria.

Pre-match Preview Iran vs. Korea Rep. Lessons to be learned.

With Team Melli sitting comfortably at the top, this particular match remains the most crucial of all the matches. A win by Iran will lead to practically unassailable command for Team Melli and 70% of the mission accomplished towards the qualification for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Of course, the results of other matches are also significant, but not as important as the three points of this one.

Korea Rep will always be a tough and uncompromising opponent for Team Melli never mind the Table or the Ranking. The Koreans are 14 places behind Iran in the FIFA Ranking of October 2021 and 59 points behind. No one should be fooled by such numbers though because the Koreans will surely give it all for this particular win.




Total Points
Previous Points


IR Iran
1522.04 16.04
1529.45 -8.99
1477.21 16.78
Korea Republic
Korea Republic
1474.96 4.45

During the Queiroz era, this match would have been the right candidate for combustions. There was no love lost between Queiroz and the Korean coach. Eventually, Queiroz was instrumental in his counterpart losing his job following defeat to Team Melli. That is all settled now as no such hostility exists between Bento and Skocic.

Politics of the game aside, when it comes to the power, tactics, and influential players, the teams are neck and neck. There is, however, a marked decline of standard and form by the Koreans, versus the ascendency and improvement of Team Melli in the last few years, but particularly under Dragan Skocic.  Despite having arguably the best Asian player in its rank, in the shape of Son Heung-min , the Tottenham winger has been less than effective in a team of many new faces. The Iraqi’s managed to close all doors away to the Koreans,  with the match ending goalless. Lebanon was next where the Koreans won by the tightest of margins. Then came the third match against Syria. The match was drawn 1-1 until a momentary lapse of concentration in the 89th minute of the match by the excellent Syrian defense allowed Son Heung-min to score the easiest of goals and his first for his country since 2019. Son Heung-min was unmarked and the goal came from a set piece.

Sadegh Moharrami during a practice session before the Korea Rep match

The winning goal scored by the Koreans is a lesson to be learned by Team Melli. number one is that players should never relax against them and number two,  Son Heung-min can not be left unmarked in or around the box. That goal was similar in circumstances to the one that was conceded by Team Melli against Iraq in Amman in Round 2 of the same qualifiers, a goal that ended in defeat for Team Melli.

Singling Son Heung-min as their main threat is also misleading as there are many such good players in the squad, however, this team has been surprisingly profligate, wasteful, and squandering chances by the dozen in the last three matches. The other area where the team has seen a decline is the accuracy of the passes and the end result. While passing the ball around might appear neat, the final passes were mostly disappointing. In fact, the Koreans despite their control and passing stats in all three matches, have created only a handful of real scoring chances in relation to their superiority.


The official World Rankings of the international Men’s team





Recent Ranking Average Ranking Highest Ranking Lowest Ranking

Team Melli’s perfect record in round three is also somehow misleading. Out of the three matches, only against Iraq that the team shined quite well and the result reflected the good performance. The last one played against UAE was perhaps the most worrying, but we can excuse the team performance as they were playing in a humid and warm climate that normally seeps the energy of players not accustomed to such conditions. As such it results in exhaustion, dehydration, adverse physical conditions, and lack of concentration. A very good example of that was the penalty kick carried out by Sardar Azmoun right at the end of regulation time of the match. His body language did not augur well for a player who is about to take a penalty. He was visibly tired and his feeble kick was easily saved by Khausaif, the UAE keeper.  The miss did not change the outcome, but it could have been costly in other circumstances. Another lesson to be learned by the coaching staff.

We cannot conclude any Team Melli match preview without mentioning the proverbial discipline. While Korea was lucky to get the winning goal against Syria, Iran were lucky not to lose their key central defender with around another half an hour to play. Such fouls like the one committed by Shojaa Khalilzadeh against Ali Mabkhout, was amateurish by a player who was until that time, one of the best players in the match. What instigated this foul was more emotional than tactical. Granted that Mabkhout beat him and was heading towards the goal at the edge of the penalty box, a professional and composed defender would have left his goalkeeper deal with the forward, after all, Beiranvand is one of the best in Asia especially since Mabkhoiut was not in full control of the ball anyway, and he runs behind to cover Beirnavand. Khalilzadeh, took the weaker option by pully Mabkhout!

It was all immaterial at the end because there was a VAR decision that an offside occurred earlier on and Shojaa’s red card was rescinded. A lesson learned? perhaps.

Mental and Emotional control, composure, and cool balanced heads are in short supply at team Melli level. There is always a possibility of combustion and fans have grown accustomed to seeing silly fouls and acts from the players. We just hope that tomorrow in Azadi against Korea is not one of those black days.




The perfect record of Skocic continues as Iran claims another 3 points.

Team Melli defeated UAE 1-0 in Dubai in a dramatic match full of action and controversies. The goal was scored by Man of the Match Mehdi Taremi from a spectacular pass from Sardar Azmoun. The win puts Iran comfortably at the top of Group A with a two points cushion over their next opponents South Korea.

Team Melli was far from firing on all cylinders. It was an amazing contrast between the last game against Iraq. The hero of that match was Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who could not put a foot right in this match against UAE and he was wasteful and profligate. Taremi wasted a couple of very good easy chances in this half which could have reduced the pressure on the team if he had opened the scoring. The UAE did embark on a few offensive moves but in reality, they hardly bothered Beiranvand in goal.

The solid defenders in the center of Team Melli’s defense had a marvelous day as both Kananizadegan and Khalizadeh played a classy game with confidence and ability. On the right, Sadegh Moharrami was also shinning. His accelerating and ball control was immaculate. On the left halfback, Nourafkan, who was one of the star players in the previous lineup, was shaky and nervous. He got a yellow card for a foul and m, minutes later he repeated a similar foul from behind but the Australian referee elected not to award him a second card and a dismissal to the disgust and protest of the UAE Players.

In the midfield, it was clear that there is a lack of creativity and dearth of quality in supplying the balls to the forwards. Jahanbakhsh was having an off day, Nourollahi was not at his best, Ezatollahi was far too slow to be effective and focused on his defensive duties more, while Amiri huffed and puffed to no avail. The two schemers of the team, Gholizadeh and Saman Ghoddos were warming the bench.

On the whole, the performance of the team was disappointing in the first half which ended 0-0.

In the second half, Nourafkan was pulled out, perhaps to avoid a second yellow, and Gholizadeh was introduced. This substitution gave a completely different complexion to the team. The nifty winger was a delight to watch going through the UAE defense like a knife through butter.

The highlight of the match occurred on the hour, While Iran was dominant, the only instance of the match when Ali Makhbout managed to beat the trap and Khalizadeh and was going to score, Shojaa pulled him from the back just outside the box. The referee pulled the red card as a result of denying the UAE forward the chance to score. After a lot of discussions and drama, and while Azmoun was being withdrawn to replace him with a central defender, Team Melli rejoiced when the VAR declared that the original pass to Mabkhout came from an offside position. The climate of the situation suddenly turned to a non-event and Shojaa’s red card was rescinded with a free kick awarded to Team Melli.

The goal scored by Taremi in the 69th minute was a work of art between him and Azmoun. Some quick passes outside the box initiated by Taremi found Azmoun on his left. Sardar measured his return pass to his onrushing partner Taremi to perfection. Taremi controlled Azmoun’s pass, saw the UAE Goalkeeper rushing towards him, and sent his ball away from the Keeper’s body into the empty net. 1-0 for Iran. Taremi is an amazing player, he misses an open goal yet he scores the spectacular!

Near the end, there was a penalty given to Team Melli as a result of a foul on Taremi in the box. Sardar Azmoun took the penalty and feebly shot at Khusaif in UAE goal, who had no problem saving it. A penalty wasted.

In the end, the miss did not matter as the UAE could not do much to score and Iran won 1-0. Although the performance of the team was far from satisfactory in the hot and humid weather of Dubai, winning while not playing at your best is one of the signs of champions. The big test, however, is in five days’ time in Azadi Stadium.

As for the UAE which was unable to end their long winless run against Team Melli, the result leaves them stranded on two points from their three outings, considerably raising the stakes ahead of their clash with Iraq on Tuesday, the same day Iran will meet the Korea Republic in a top of the cable clash.

Where UAE falls short, and Team Melli’s vulnerability.

According to Tasnim news agency, Al-Bayan newspaper of the UAE has analyzed the match between the national football teams of Iran and the UAE in Dubai in today’s issue. The newspaper’s pre-match reads: “

The UAE is more desperate to win this game as anything less than that, even a draw, makes their mission of qualification that much complicated.

With only two points from two games and a single goal scored, this result does not look rosy for the UAE and a win, therefore, is quite essential for them. UAE can learn from Iran itself, as Team Melli suffered two bad defeats in the previous round, but they bounced back perfectly to clinch qualification for the third and decisive round.

So, the UAE players will enter the game with a lot of confidence and motivation and want to desperately be around the top of the table to clinch one of the promotion places. This game is very important for both teams as the Iranian side wants to maintain its lead in the group, so both teams will be looking for victory and the draw is not satisfactory for them, especially not for the  UAE national team.

It is expected that Van Marwijk will first seek to solidify his defense and use counter-attacks in this game. However, this is where Skocic can outfox his Dutch counterpart and play on the vulnerability of the UAE defense. Van Marwijk uses Khalifa al-Hamadi in the central defensive role along with Shaheen Abdul Rahman, who has replaced Walid Abbas due to injury. The only goal conceded by UAE against Syria was the result of the elementary error of this pair. The Syrians forwards were so profligate in that match, the result could have easily been 3 or even 4 goals victory for Syria. Omar Khribin himself missed at least two easy setters.

Van Marwijk is well aware of the capabilities of Azmoun and Taremi in aerial battles, and how their Iranian pair’s superiority can harm his team from crosses on both flanks. He has been working on that aspect to limit that threat. What Skocic can do is supplement his offensive plan by penetrating through the center of Emirates defense using through balls and fast passing.

While depending on counterattack is perhaps the only way the UAE can threaten Team Melli, the transition from attack to defense must be organized well for Team Melli. Iran has been prolific in this aspect and must continue to do so in the coming games especially and particularly against the Koreans.

In midfield, Majid Hassan will be next to Abdullah Ramadan or Majid Rashid, and Khalfan Mubarak will be the team’s playmaker for the UAE. Lima, Caio, and Ali Mabkhout should form the team’s attacking trio. Mabkhout is the most dangerous of the UAE players and the most likely to score. He has however suffered from a slowdown in his mobility lately.

On paper, Iran looks the better of the two sides and a three-point is not too difficult to achieve. The only vulnerability of Team Melli and most of the Iranian teams, in general, is the mental toughness and discipline, both of which have resulted in bad consequences. The Arab teams are all well aware of that weakness of Iran and have mastered all sorts of tricks for many years to yield results. One can safely bet that the UAE will be resorting to intimidation tactics to provoke the Iranians.

With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification rounds at early stages, it is vital that the players keep their discipline and refrain from receiving silly yellow cards and possible suspensions. This needs to be implanted in them very strongly.


18 YELLOW CARDS and ONE RED CARD in the 10 matches played in the World Cup qualifiers. This is an average of 1.8 cards per game which is quite high.

Five players received two cards: Azmoun, Taremi, Jahanbakhsh, Shojaei, and Pouraliganji.

3 players served suspensions, Azmoun, Shojaei, and Pouraliganji while two got away from it as per the FIFA regulations of clean records for the third round.

Card Details

Second round 10-Oct-19 vs Cambodia – PouraliGanji

Second round 15-Oct-19 vs Bahrain – Hajsafy – Azmoun

Second round 14-Nov-19 vs Iraq – PouraliGanji- Shojaei (two yellow)

Morteza PouraliGanji and Masoud Shojaei were suspended for the match vs Hong Kong

Second round 03-Jun-21 vs Hong Kong- Torabi

Second round 07-Jun-21 vs Bahrain – Kananizadeghan

Second round 11-Jun-21 vs Cambodia- None

Second round 15-Jun-21 vs Iraq- Nourollahi-Jahanbakhsh-Moharrami-Azmoun-Taremi

Sardar Azmoun was suspended for the match vs Syria Round Three

Third Round 02-Sep-21 vs Syria -Khalilzadeh-Mohammadi-Taremi

Third Round 07-Sep-21 vs Iraq -Ezatollahi-Jahanbaksh

BOSNIA vs IRAN 0-2 :perfect record for Skocic

Team Melli defeated Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-2 in Asim Ferhatović Hase Stadium, Sarajevo. The first half ended goalless. In the second half, Kaveh Rezaei scored the first in the 46th Minute, While in the dying minutes 90+2, the substitute Mehdi Ghayedi scored Iran’s second.  

 Bosnian star player Miralem Pjanic was supposed to be given a rest to prepare him for the crucial match against Italy, but it seems that the coach had cold feet and needed the Barcelona midfielder to inject some experience and creativity against Iran,

Both teams played open football with Iran having a slight advantage over the host in ball keeping. In the second match under Dragan Skočić, the Croatian picked a well-balanced team in the absence of at least half a dozen regular Team Melli starters.

Despite the pre-match statement of the Bosnian coach, who reckoned that Iran’s defense was vulnerable,  this match proved otherwise. Shoja’a Khalizadeh and Hossein Kannanizadegan formed a sold wall in the center while Mohammadi and Sadegh Moharrami were excellent on the flanks. Team Melli hardly worked to their maximum and managed to easily thwart the Bosnian offensive moves. Whatever filtered from the defenders, Abedzadeh masterly controlled his goals with perfect timings and solid catches. The Maritimo keeper is certainly becoming a serious contender for the number one spot in goal ahead of Beiranvand.

Iran played a balanced game and was clearly better prepared than the host. In the first 15 minutes, Team Melli could have been at least 2 goals up if it was not for the brave Bosnian keeper Jasmin Buric who saved Kaveh Rezaei from a close-range shot after Kaveh robbed the ball in the penalty area and was face to face with the keeper. Minutes later, Ali Gholizadeh had just one defender to beat for a clear shot of the gaping goal, in a similar situation but could not dribble past his marker. And finally, Vahid Amiri was beaten in a split of a second when he also was face-to-face with the Buric.

In the second half, Team Melli started unchanged. IN the first minute, Amiri, who robbed the ball on the right flank from the Bosnian defender, found Rezaei just outside the box and he squared the pass to him. After taking a couple of steps, Kaveh Rezaei picked his spot on the opposite end of the gaol and sent a delicious curler that beat two defenders and the keeper into the net. It was a world-class strike by Chreloi forward.

Several changes in the team and the same with Bosnia changed the rhythm and the pace slightly, but both continued the offensive gameplay in what was an entertaining encounter. Saeed Ezatolahi made the team after a long absence and his presence was felt. He could have made a much better pass for Team Melli to score on the counter, but his poor pass was intercepted robbing Iran of a goal. Otherwise, his towering presence and energy were quite refreshing for the team.

Mehdi Ghayedi was introduced late, and the Esteghal tiny forward scored Iran’s second with another cracking half volley on the far side of the keeper to make it 2-0 for Team Melli in the dying minutes

It was a very good performance by Team Melli. The defense line quite assuring, while u front, Gholizadeh, and Rezaei, teammates in Chareloi were quite a threat and made Bosina defenders work hard against them. The only concern about the excellent team arranged by Dragan Skocic was the midfield. which was ineffective and lacked depth the skills to be effective. In big games, that lack of creativity could bite back badly. Omid Noorafkan and Ezatollahi’s introduction improved the midfield, Noorallahi was a disappointment.

In reality, there was no midfield as the balls traveled directly to the forwards from the keeper or defenders to utilize the speed of the flanks and Rezaei limiting the effectiveness of the midfield.

Overall, it was an excellent performance and a perfect record for the Croatian head coach who is assisted by Vahid Hashemian. This performance augurs well for the team in the qualifiers that will start again in March 2012.



Sardar Azmoun , the hero of Zenit St. Petersburg.

Sardar Azmoun was the hero of the night as his team Zenit St. Petersburg defeated Turkish side Fenerbahçe 3-1  to qualify for the next round of the UEFA Europa League.

Azmoun started the match , his first start with his new club and It only took him 4 minutes to make an impression when he assisted the first goal after he nicely chested the ball to Ozdeov in the six yard box for the Russian to score the first. That made the aggregate score (1-1)

Azmoun then headed a nice cross by Sebastian Druissi  to make it 2-0 for the Russian Champions. Fenerbahçe then silenced the home crowd when Mehemet Topal scored from long range volley with a stunning shot. It was 2-1 and 2-2 on aggregate , advantage Fenerbahçe.

 Sardar Azmoun, however scored the winner when he passed to marker on goal and slotted past the hapless Turkish keeper in the 76th minute.

It was a magnificent night for the Team Melli forward who was substituted out late in the match.

In Another UEFA Europa League match, Dinamo Zagreb defeated Viktoria Plzen 3-0 in the Stadion Maksimir (Zagreb) to qualkify for the next round.

Sadegh Moharrami played 90 minutes for his team Dinamo Zagreb.