Tag: Sardar Azmoun

A grand performance by the boys deserving of champion.

The win against a Japanese team, which has dominated Iran for many years including that bitter defeat in Ali Ain in the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019, was a big relief in all senses.

In the best performances of Team Melli in Asian Cup so far, Mohebbi and Jahanbaksh scored, but the credit goes to every single player in the team. Those players stood up to their biggest challenge and came out as winners.

Credit has to go to Aradeshir ‘Amir’ Ghalenoei, the head coach who had to arrange a makeshift team due to the suspension of Taremi, injury to Majid Hosseini and Sadegh Moharrami. In a masterstroke, Ghalenoei played Milad Mohammadi instead of the Captain and much more experienced Ehsan Hajsafi, He supplemented the defensive midfield role by playing Omid Ebrahimi to support Ezatollahi and finally, he used the stronger Mohebbi instead of Ghayedi on the flanks.

It was indeed a gamble that worked very well. The return of Kananizadegan stabilized the central defense. Ramin and Milad Mohammadi on the wings were a source of headaches for the Japanese.

Sardar Azmoun was majestic. Top-notch performance, powerful in attack, visionary, individual skills, and provider of the gem of pass to assist Mohebbi’s goal. Azmoun played one of his best matches for a long time. He should have been awarded that wonderful goal, except for VAR which declared him offside by a millimeter.

Beiranvand was never really tested because of the solid defense protecting him, and the goal he conceded was a touch of fortune for the Japanese. Mohebbi exceeded expectations. His constant runs, hustle, and physicality were marvelous. His finishing from the Azmoun pass was a touch of class.

Even Ezatollahi upgraded his performance in this match.

And what about the warrior Omid Ebrahimi? He was all over the pitch, tackling, shooting, and hustling as if he was 20 years old. Perhaps one of his best games in the long career with Team Melli.

It is difficult to pick up the MVP of this match, but Saman Ghoddos and Sardar Azmoun are the closest to the title. Ghoddos was inspirational. His Vision, tact, skills, and determination were the qualities that a player needed to challenge the top team in Asia. He was never intimidated by the quick and pacey Japanese. Hardly put a foot wrong.

And Finally to Alireza Jahanbaksh. The Captain and the man who was assigned the heavy responsibility to take the penalty kick in the last moments of the game. The psychological pressure was immense not just in front of the capacity crowd but with 88 million Iranians watching.

He took the penalty in a style appropriate for the Captain of the team.

Now, comes the more difficult task, not necessarily technical or tactical but emotional and psychological. The players need to be back on the ground treat the next opponent with respect and play the best football that they have proved they are capable of.

Team Melli to the semi-finals of AFC Asian Cup 2023

In one of the grandest performances of an Iranian team for many years, Team Melli defeated the mighty Japanese 2-1 in regulation time at the Education City Stadium on Saturday.

The quarter-final match was an early final between the Number one and two teams in Asia.

A late Alireza Jahanbakhsh penalty was the difference as Team Melli Iran came from behind to defeat Japan 2-1 and booked their place in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ semi-finals on Saturday.

The two teams had met in the semi-finals of the previous edition, with Japan emerging 3-0 winners and they looked on course to repeat the win when they took the lead before the half-hour mark, but two second-half goals from Mohammad Mohebi and Jahanbakhsh turned things around for the Iranians at Education City Stadium.

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Captaining Team Melli on the day in the absence of Ehsan Hajsafi, Jahanbakhsh nearly opened the Iranians’ account in the 13th minute when he picked up Saeid Ezatolahi’s pass down the left flank and curled a shot that nearly caught goalkeeper Zion Suzuki off-guard, but fizzed just over the crossbar.

The first test for Suzuki came after 18 minutes when Hidemasa Morita lost possession on the edge of the Japanese penalty box, allowing Ezatolahli to control the ball and hit with his left, but his shot was too central and the Japanese goalkeeper had no problems in dealing with it.

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Morita more than made up for his mistake 10 minutes later. The central midfielder embarked on a solo run to beat three Iranian defenders and arrive into the box before drilling an effort that made its way into the back of the net despite goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand’s best efforts to make the save.

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IR Iran’s biggest chance to equalise before the break was a Saman Ghoddos half-volley after he controlled the ball with his chest, but the Brentford midfielder narrowly missed the target.

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Nine minutes after the restart, Team Melli were able to restore parity after a long pass from Suzuki was interrupted and the ball fell to Sardar Azmoun who supplied a through pass to Mohebi. The forward was left with just the goalkeeper to beat and coolly slotted into the bottom corner for the equaliser.

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IR Iran thought they had completed their comeback in the 64th minute when Azmoun latched onto a long ball, dribbling expertly past two defenders and powering past Suzuki into the near post, but the AS Roma forward had strayed marginally offside and the goal was overruled.

The Japanese goalkeeper was called into action again to stop a spectacular Ezatolahi volley from the edge of the box and confidently produced the required save with just six minutes left to the end of 90.

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Deep into four minutes of added time, IR Iran got a golden chance to win the game when Ko Itakura brought Hussein Kanaani down inside the box. Jahanbakhsh stepped up and emphatically dispatched it into the top corner to earn coach Amir Ghalenoei’s side the all-important victory.

Players that need to stand up and be counted.

There is no need to overcomplicate the issues for tomorrow’s match between Team Melli and their strongest opponent yet, Japan.

Simply, Iran has to win by playing their best match of the tournament. To do that, a few players need to elevate their game and need to stand up and be counted.

Against Syria, It should have been far more comfortable than what it was after Team Melli dominated the first half which finished with a 1-0 lead. A rash tackle by Beiranvand led to a penalty and the Syrian equalizer changed everything.

At some point, it looked like Team Melli was content with the draw.

Against Syria and the group matches, many players failed to impress. These players need to double their efforts for Japan’s match to make it to the semi-finals.


The hope of Team Melli fans, the highest Team Melli scorer, the icon who plays alongside the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Dybala in the Italian Serie A. Azmoun has been far from convincing, even his body language is suspect. He needs a major upgrade of his game and a unique performance against Japan to put everyone’s mind at ease. The team particularly needs his aerial power against Japan.


Player whose moves, runs and crosses are essential for the forwards. He has the abilities and the skill but he lacks application and purpose. He is capable enough to be a threat to the Japanese with some self-belief and confidence. Ghalenoei should also encourage him to shoot when the situation is right.


Despite his vision, skills, and experience, he still fell short in previous games. He also needs more fighting spirit the type he displays for his club Brentford. Whatever the problem is, he never seems to complete a 90-minute game. For everyone’s sake, we hope he has the lungs and the stamina to do that against Japan.


The longish injury just before the start of the Asian Cup could be the reason for his slow return back to form. Team Melli badly needs Rezaeian’s runs on the right flank. He is the perfect player for this match to send crosses for Azmoun. An on-form Rezaeian could win Iran the match against a vulnerable Japanese keeper and defense.


Not convincing in his last few matches, however, this should be the match to redeem himself against a tough skillful opposition. He needs to speed up physically and mentally. He has to support both the forwards and the defense. Ezatollahi must form the first line of defense against the Japanese attacks. It is a mighty task, but this match will determine if he is good enough for Team Melli.


Some criticism against him for conceding three goals, most of which he could have prevented, but he was also the savior. Tomorrow, his errors should be minimal. His towering presence will be essential. His position awareness in the box is vital. A good performance by Beiranvand will lead to a Team Melli victory.

Azmoun receives a knock in training

While Team Melli was active yesterday in training sessions, preparing for the upcoming match in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 against Syria, the team’s forward Sardar Azmoun received a slight knock which forced him to leave the practice early and head for treatment room.

While the injury does not look serious, some media reports have already speculated that Azmoun might miss the clash with Syria on Wednesday.

There were no official statement by the team on Azmoun’s condition yet.

Iran will face Qatar in the Round of 16 match at Abdullah Bin Khalifa stadium , Doha , Qatar at 19:00 local time.

Syria: A difficult team to beat

. Iran needs various solutions against park the bus Syrian defense

. Syria will frustrate the Iranian forwards.

. Team Melli lacks prowess in the middle of the park.

On paper and form, Iran is the favorite to go through the round of 16 match against Syria on Wednesday. Everything is backing Team Melli from the head to head records to form, players ratings and anything in between. Frankly, it is hard to find any aspect of the Syrian team that can match Iran’s.

Football, however, is a strange game where forms and stars sometime lose their way in a match. Team Melli started brightly against Palestine, dispatching four goals in the process. Against Hong Kong, the Team was an embarrassment and perhaps even lucky not to come out with draw. Third time against the UAE, the team was back to its standard and perhaps unlucky not to score more than two goals.

Evaluating the performance of the Syrian team, their last 3 games were hardly impressing. However, it must be mentioned that in Héctor Raúl Cúper , they have a seasoned coach with an immense experience. at club and national teams levels. The Argentine, who at one stage coached Inter Milan , has moved eastward coaching Georgia, Egypt, Uzbekistan . Congo DR before settling in Syria. He is , perhaps, the Syrian team greatest asset.

Syria, just made it to in the knockout stage of the Asian Cup, after a narrow 0-1 loss to Australia, a goalless draw versus Uzbekistan and a narrow 1-0 win against India. The stats clearly says that there is not much fire power in the Syrian team scoring one goal in three matches to qualify, but on the other hand, they seem to have a solid defense that has conceded one goal only, a record which is better that Iran which has conceded two goals.

Clearly, this team excels in defending. Cuper is well aware of his team strength and will be repeating the same against Iran. Packed and tight defenses , double teaming the Iranian wingers and closing down the central defense will be the game plan for Syria. It will be a classic Italian style defense.

The Syrian players are physically and technically strong and can match the Iranians. What they lack, however, is the skills, experience and the team work of Iran. Ghalenoei, must have a pragmatic approach to this match and be prepared to change game plan and players’ options to counteract the tight defenses of Syria.

While Rezaeian will be a key provider of crosses on the right flank for Taremi and Azmoun, the lack of pace and skills of Ezatollahi to cover him, could prove costly in case of counter attacks by Syria. The same can be said on the left side of the defense where Hajsafi is venturing much less than usual but also has no real backing in case he decides to venture forward for crosses.

In fact, it there was a good defensive midfielder in the team, the central defenders would have benefitted a lot and their work cut short playing more comfortably at the back. This is probably the major shortfall of Team Melli right now. Feeble defensive midfield players.

Hossein Kanani is suspended for the match against Syria, which might be a good thing for Iran as he has been error prone in the las three matches. Majid Hosseini, and Shoja’a Khalilzadeh , although not familiar with each other, can still perform the job expected from them.

Saman Ghoddos, at his best, is a key player in Team Melli although , he does tend to drift in and out at times. His defense splitting passing is crucial, as well as the dribbling of Ghayedi and the crosses of Jahanbakhsh. Ghalenoei must introduce a variety of plans to put pressure on the Syrian defense.

Saeed Ezatollahi whose style of play is slow , destructive, and passes somewhat backwards, needs to be counted if he is picked as a starter. He has been one of the weaknesses in the line up as the squad does not have adequate coverage in this department. Cheshmi is more versatile and better defensive player, while Ebrahimi is stronger in tackles and more experienced but Ghalenoei somehow sees something in Ezatollahi that keeps him in the team as a regular starter. It is about time that this midfield performs it defensive duty to help the team and ease the pressure on the defenders.

Taremi’s brace sinks the UAE

Al Rayyan: A Mehdi Taremi double earned Iran a 2-1 win over the United Arab Emirates in Group C of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ at Education City Stadium on Tuesday.

Taremi opened his Qatar 2023 account in the 25th minute, moving behind the Emirati defence to take advantage of an intelligent Sardar Azmoun pass before coolly slotting home.

Team Melli thought they had doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Ehsan Hajsafi’s whipped delivery from the left was headed home by Ali Gholizadeh, but following a VAR check, the goal was ruled out for offside.

Coach Amir Ghalenoei’s men started the second half the same way they finished the first and were within a whisker of doubling their lead when Azmoun pounced on a poor clearance on the edge of the Emirati area and hit on the half-volley, but his effort passed just wide.

It was the UAE who had the best chance of the early proceedings of the second period when Yahya Al Ghassani was brought down inside the box by Hossein Kanaani. Al Ghassani stepped up to take the resulting penalty, but his attempt was saved by an excellent diving save from Alireza Beiranvand.

Team Melli’s star duo Azmoun and Taremi combined again to make it 2-0 in the 65th minute when the AS Roma forward cut inside and fed his teammate with a well-weighted pass and Taremi emphatically converted into the roof of the net to double Team Melli’s advantage.

UAE goalkeeper was called upon to make a flying reflex save in the 73rd minute to deny Ramin Rezaeian’s curled free-kick from the left side.

Another VAR call had a goal from substitute Mohammad Mohebi overturned after the Iranian forward was deemed to have fouled Khalid Al Hashemi inside the box in the build-up before he struck the rebound home after Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s initial shot hit the crossbar.

Al Ghassani made up for his missed penalty kick with a decisive goal in added time of the second half as he broke free down the left, cutting inside on his right foot and finding the far corner with his finish to half the deficit.

Despite the defeat, the UAE join their opponents in the Round of 16 as Group C runners-up, edging out Palestine on goal difference after the Palestinians beat Hong Kong, China 3-0 in the simultaneous kick-off at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.

There was joy for Palestine though as they confirmed a first ever knockout stage appearance as one of the best four third-placed teams. 

Iran v Hong Kong updates

Team Melli will play its second match in Group C of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 against Hong Kong at 20:30 local time today. Following Iran’s 4-1 win against Palestine, this match will be the confirmation of qualification to the next round in case of a win.

Shoja’a Khalilzadeh has been added to the injury list of Team Melli after the central defender received a knock in the match against Palestine. He is not available for tonight’s match and his replacement will be Seyed Majid Hosseini.

Mehdi Torabi who was not included in the Palestine match due to an injury, is also available for selection by the coaches.

Khalilzadeh is not the only change in the expected lineup as two key players are available and will most probably start the game. After fully recovering from his slight injury, Ramin Rezaiean will be one of the starters. The right winger played a few minutes in the previous game and showed no sign of any problems.

Also, Sardar Azmoun will be starting the game along with Mehdi Taremi. Karim Ansarifard will return to the bench. Azmoun was the last player to join the squad, hence Ghalenoei opted to use him in the second half against Palestine.

Against Hong Kong, there is also a possibility of a change in the middle of the field, where Team Melli lacks dynamism and energy with Saman Ghoddos taking the full burden. The defensive midfield needs to be better equipped, hence the chances of dropping the ineffective Ezatollahi are quite high.

Azmoun action week continues as his club coach is sacked!

Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Italian side Roma after two-and-a-half years in charge – with former club captain Daniele De Rossi replacing him until the end of the season.

The Portuguese manager, 60, joined the Serie A side in May 2021 and won the Europa Conference League in May 2022. He was instrumental in bringing Sardar Azmoun to AS Roma.

The former Chelsea, Manchester United, and Real Madrid boss also guided the Italian club to the Europa League final last year, where they were defeated by Sevilla on penalties.
But Roma have won just one of their last six Serie A games this season – leaving them ninth in the table – and were recently knocked out of the Coppa Italia by city rivals Lazio.

He compared himself to Harry Potter – perhaps implying he still has the “magic” touch as a manager – following that defeat. During the match, he received a red card for the second successive game – saying he was “raising expectations” for what the club can achieve. The club’s American owners, Dan and Ryan Friedkin, thanked Mourinho for his “passion and efforts” in a statement announcing his sacking.

They later announced that Rome-born De Rossi – who spent 18 years at the club as a player, making more than 600 appearances – will take over the role until the end of the season.
Mourinho won two Premier League titles and three cups during his first spell at Stamford Bridge, before being sacked and joining Inter Milan, where he won two Italian league titles and a second Champions League.

Mourinho then joined Spanish giants Real Madrid, winning one La Liga title, before a second spell at Stamford Bridge, in which he won his third Premier League.

He later had spells at Manchester United – winning a Europa League title – and Tottenham Hotspur, before joining Roma.

With Azmoun in Doha playing for Team Melli in the AFC Asian Cup, it is not clear if he will be in Daniele De Rossi’s plans or if he will improve his game times in the presence of Lukaku and Dybala. A good showing in Doha will certainly improve his reputation in AS Roma.

Ghalenoei game plan vs Hong Kong

After a convincing comfortable win in the first match for Team Melli against Palestine, Amir Ghalenoei opted to give his players a day off on Monday. The players were happy to take the off day to roam around the city of Doha to observe the majestic infrastructure and the modern shopping areas.

Ghalenoei and his coaching staff remained in the hotel planning for the next match vs Hong Kong that will be played on Friday. The concern about injuries has died down as it seems all the players on the injury list have recovered and can play if Ghalenoei wishes to use them. The head coach, however, is contemplating a change in the lineup to give the main players some rest while giving fringe players the chance thus spreading the workload amongst a maximum number of players in this long competition that needs fresh players, not over-worked or exhausted ones.

Hong Kong lost against UAE in its first match 1-3 with two penalties conceded. Despite that loss, Hong Kong looked quite good and managed to control the game at different periods. The team has improved in the last few seasons and with the naturalized players, there is flair and industry, and confidence is high. It is not a team that should be taken lightly by Iran despite the 4-0 drubbing the last time these two met in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Azadi.

There is no question of Ghalenoei putting a weakened team against Hong Kong as a win is essential. Players like Azmoun, Taremi, Ghoddos, and Jahanbakhsh are essential in the team lineup. Other players can be rested such as Saeid Ezatollahi who had a pretty bad match against Palestine and also suffered a trauma on his nose. A rest for that player will do both himself and the team a ton of good. Cheshmi or Ebrahimi would be the ideal options to replace Ezatollahi.

Mehdi Torabi, who was not even on the bench against Palestine, Ali Gholizadeh, and Mehdi Ghaeydi are good options to start as midfielders alongside Ghoddos.

There have been questions about the defense and conceding the goal has worried the local Iranian media. The Ezatollahi blunder has raised the question although it was an individual error from one player. The overall standard of defense was quite good against Palestine, however, a change of personalities would be beneficial. Some younger energy will do Team Melli a world of good.

Azmoun has an amazing scoring record.

Sardar Azmoun scored against Palestine to reach the 50-goal mark equaling Karim Bagheri. As Azmoun has a higher Goal Per Match GPM, he stands second only to the legendary Ali Daei whose record will not be broken anytime soon.

Azmoun is only 29 years old and has a good 5-6 years left for him to reach a scoring figure close to Daei. He has been playing for a decade for Team Melli and narrowly missed selection for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014. However, he has been present in every season since, and this year he celebrates 10 years with an amazing record of 50 goals.

Azmoun’s records show that he played an average of 7.6 matches for Team Melli every year and scored 5 goals in these 7.6 matches an average of .66 GPM. A terrific record only bettered by the legendary Ali Daei whose Goals Per Match is 0.74

Astonishingly, Sardar has yet to play in the domestic league, although he was registered with Sepahan at the start of his career. As he was playing abroad all his career, he missed many chances to play for Team Melli.



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Only 8 players in the history of Team Melli have managed to pass the 100 caps club, the latest of them is Karim Ansarifard. The list is headed by Javas Nekounam followed by Daei with Ehsan Hajsafy lurking in third place with 15 matches short of Daei. The 33-year-old Team Melli Captain has a good chance of surpassing both Daei and Nekounam as Team Melli is involved in the FIFA World Cup 2026 preliminaries with games coming thick and fast.

1Javad NEKOUNAM 157
2Ali DAEI 151
3Ehsan HAJSAFI 136
4Mohammad Ali KARIMI 130
5Jalal HOSSEINI 114
7Andranik TEYMOURIAN 101