Tag: Saeid Ezatolahei

Wilmots “We at least deserved a draw, we were unlucky”

The head coach of Iran’s Team Melli says his team did not deserve the losses against Bahrain and Iraq!

Marc Wilmots, in the post-match press conference following the loss to Iraq, said  “We had a tough 15 minutes at the start of the game. Then we conceded a goal but soon recovered and took control. We made some mistakes in the second half and we ended up with 10 players. This defeat forces us to get maximum points out of the remaining matches in order to advance to the next round.”

Asked what plans he has to achieve this qualification, Wilmots responded:

 “We are doing our best for home games as well as the one away game against Cambodia,”. Commenting on his team’s two consecutive World Cup qualifying defeats, The Belgian coach said” We could have at least got two points in the two games against Bahrain and Iraq, but that didn’t happen. Perhaps it is better to say that we were unlucky and both matches could have ended in a draw”

Wilmots commenting on the playing conditions and whether the defeat was a consequence of the red card given to Team Melli’s Captain Masoud Shojaei “ I have been in football for 30 years. One should never blame any individual for a defeat. We are all to be blamed for the failure and not just one player. We had some mistakes in this game. We made some mistakes in defensive covering. On top of that, we were short in the last 10 minutes.” Wilmot’s claims that some the Iranian media is blaming the failure on the absence of Jahanbakhsh and Saeid Ezatollahei. “ It is not like what it sounds. Jahanbakhsh and Ezatollahei have not played for a while. In addition, we did not have Haji Safi due to injury in the match.”

A chance of a lifetime – Iran vs Portugal

Iran should not be under any pressure to go on the offensive to satisfy some critics‘ whims , neither is Queiroz obliged. He is not the type of a person that is easily influenced by external pressure. The Portuguese realizes that this particular match for more than one reason, is the game of his life and the same applies to all the players of Team Melli too.

Three points after the win against Morocco is not enough for Iran to qualify. Nothing short of a win will do and against Queiroz’s homeland team. After the match against Spain, a win is definitely a possibility against Portugal. Team Melli’s performance warrants praise and admiration, which it deservedly received from football journalist and fans across the world.

Team Melli’s energy against an aging Portugal side, with a suspect defense is a mouthwatering prospect. It is chance that Team Melli should not waste and by profligate forwards. The quality of the finishing touch must be much better and so should be the passing accuracy.

Portugal is not all about Cristiano Ronaldo either. However, limiting and neutralizing the Real Madrid forward, will go a long way in achieving the desired result. The showman that he is, Ronaldo has a clear weakness and that is in his temperament. He can be easily frustrated and that is one major key factor in neutralizing him.  There is no doubt that his former coach has a few tricks up his sleeve to neutralize Ronaldo tonight.

 The eyes are all on the two stars of the team Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Sardar Azmoun to deliver. The latter has an excellent aerial power that has not been utilized yet. Jahanbakhsh needs to improve his game in all departments. Both players need to take the game to the Portuguese box and take on the likes of Fonte and Pepe. They have the ability to beat those two defenders.

Milad Mohammadi’s starting is still in doubt and very much dependent on Hajsafi’s recovery from the knock he received in the Spain game. If Mohammadi starts, his runs and pace will certainly give the Portugal defenders a run for their money and feed those crosses to Azmoun and Taremi. Both the forwards need to be at their best and not to be wasteful.

Team Melli also needs a rpeat performance from that young dynamo Saeid Ezatolahi

A win is achievable. The players need to believe in themselves. There is nothing to lose for Iran but a lot of honor and pride to be gained.

Joao Moutinho




Iran may be without Olympiakos defender Ehsan Hajsafi, who sustained a thigh injury against Spain.

Milad Mohammadi, who plays his club football for Akhmat Grozny in Russia, is likely to come in if Hajsafi is ruled out.

Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho is a doubt after missing several days of training through illness.

Raphael Guerreiro has recovered from a minor leg injury but struggled against Morocco and could be replaced.


Iran were predicted to finish last in this group in some quarters. They could still end up winning it.

Team Melli, ranked 37 in the world, go into their final match with a chance to reach the World Cup knockout stage for the first time in their history. Spain’s opening match against Portugal may have been the game of the tournament so far, but this fixture should have its own layers of intrigue.

A win is needed to guarantee qualification for Iran. If they claim a victory and Spain fail to win, they would reach the last 16 as group winners. For Portugal, a draw would be enough to go through.

As the nation ranked fourth in the world, and reigning European champions, Portugal should start as clear favourites.

However, Iran have a wildcard in their corner. Coach Carlos Queiroz had two spells managing his native Portugal, including at the 2010 World Cup, where they made the last 16. If Queiroz can utilise his inside knowledge, it may be a feat he replicates at the expense of his former employers.




  • This is Iran and Portugal’s second World Cup encounter. In 2006, Cristiano Ronaldo’s first World Cup goal, and one from Deco, earned Portugal a 2-0 win.


  • Iran have never won their final World Cup group stage game (D1, L3), scoring three and conceding 10 in those matches.
  • Team Melli are winless against European opposition at the World Cup, losing six of their seven fixtures.
  • Iran failed to register a shot on target against Spain for the first time in 14 World Cup games.
  • The defeat to Spain was a first in 24 competitive matches overall.
  • Iran are aiming to win two group games at the World Cup for the first time.
  • During his time coaching Portugal, Iran boss Carlos Queiroz oversaw their biggest World Cup victory, a 7-0 win over North Korea in 2010.


  • Portugal have won three of their four World Cup games against Asian opposition, losing against host nation South Korea in 2002.
  • Portugal’s 1-0 win over Morocco last time out was their first World Cup clean sheet in six attempts, since a goalless draw with Brazil in 2010.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has scored his country’s last five goals at the World Cup. The last player to do so for one nation was Russia’s Oleg Salenko in 1994, who scored six in a row.
  • Ronaldo has successfully converted all four of his shots on target at this World Cup.
  • Joao Moutinho could earn a 113th cap against Iran, overtaking Nani (112) to become Portugal’s third-most capped player. Only Ronaldo (152) and Luis Figo (127) have more.

Few hours before the World Cup 2018 Draw

Team Melli is only hours away from knowing its fate in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 draw. Iran is in Pot3 with a potential of a tough draw. This is the first time that Team Melli has qualified for the FIFA World cup for a second successive time. This feat was achieved by the Carlos Queiroz and for that, the Portuguese will be forever remembered.

Team Melli was the first Asian side to qualify for this tournament and did so with an impressive 12 consecutive clean sheets. However, the downsize of this record is that Team Melli is hardly exemplary at the front with only an average of 1 goals scored per game.

Queiroz is well known for his philosophy of solid defense and closing all the flanks. His facet of tactics is “reactive football” with a deep-lying defense and quick counterattacks. Queiroz changed the game plan in recent friendlies against Russia, Panama and Venezuela, where Team Melli played with a differently, pressing higher up the pitch and adopting a more aggressive approach.

Carlos Queiroz Plans

Carlos Queiroz, despite a temper and petulance that has caused many outwardly senseless controversies in recent years, is very popular in Iran because of the results and performances. The Portuguese is the football equivalent to Donald Trump who picks up fights, with anyone that crosses his line be it a charity worker, footballer, journalist or a club coach. Despite his irritable and vindictive character, most critics believe that he has made a difference in Iran’s football, at least at National Team level by giving Team Melli real character and building a solid group of player. For that, he is much more accomplished in his job that the American President.

What he lacks in finesse and character, Queiroz certainly makes up in coaching skills, passion and man management. Iranian players are not very well versed in discipline or professionalism, but under Queiroz some of Team Melli players with attitudes or transgressions, soon found themselves out of the squad in a flash. The rest heard the message well and learned the lesson.  Queiroz, not much of an aficionado of the domestic league, has always preferred Europe-based players, as this gives him some assertion of technical discipline that the domestic leagues sorely lack.

Luckily, there are a large number of players in the current squad that play in Europe, including 3 who actually earn their living in Russia; Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan) , Saeid Ezatolahei ( FC Amkar Perm on loan from FC Rostov) and Milad Mohammadi ( Akhmat Grozny)

 Regardless to which teams will be in Iran’s group, Germany, Spain and Nigeria being about the toughest or an easier ride on paper of Russia, Croatia and Panama, Team Melli will be a tough nut to crack.

The fans, however, would wish to see some more courage by Queiroz and less of the “Park the Bus” approach.