Tag: Sepahan

Worrying league forms of Team Melli goalkeepers.

In the latest round of the Persian Gulf League, the spotlight fell squarely on the performance of Team Melli’s goalkeepers, with their errors leading to conceding goals that should have been easily avoided.

The Premier League witnessed rare occurrences this week, with individual mistakes and bizarre own goals becoming the talk of the town. Alireza Rezaei of Nasaji Mazandaran was the first to make headlines, allowing a seemingly innocuous ball slip through his legs in the dying moments of the game against Naft Abadan.

However, the most alarming incident unfolded during Sepahan’s clash with Peykan, where Payam Niazmand’s errors drew the ire of head coach Jose Morais, prompting a halftime substitution with Nima Mirzazad taking over goalkeeping duties.

Yet, the most disappointing display of the week came from Persepolis’s Alireza Beiranvand, the stalwart goalkeeper for Team Melli. Despite his status, Beiranvand’s recent form has been under scrutiny since the AFC Asian Cup 2023. His performance against Foolad Khuzestan further fueled doubts, as elementary errors led to both of Foolad’s goals, including a momentary lapse that resulted in a Persepolis own goal.

With Amir Ghalenoei and his coaching staff closely monitoring these league matches, concerns have undoubtedly arisen regarding the reliability of Team Melli’s main goalkeepers. However, amidst these worries, Esteghlal’s Keeper and Team Melli’s third-choice goalkeeper, Hossein Hosseini, emerged as a beacon of hope by maintaining a clean sheet.

As the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers loom on the horizon, all eyes are on Ghalenoei’s next move. Will he adhere to his pledge of rejuvenating the Team Melli squad, or will he opt for continuity with the old guard under the guise of needing more time? The next two matches will undoubtedly provide crucial insights into the direction Ghalenoei chooses for the national team.

Failure of Persepolis typifies poor standards in Iran

The Iranian league champions Persepolis, failed to qualify to the last 8 /round of 16 of the AFC Asian Champions League 2023/24 after a home defeat to Al-Duhail of Qatar by a score of 2-1. Stopping its point tally at 8, was not good enough to be amongst the best 3 second placed teams of the Weste Asia zone of the Champions League.

Sepahan, however, qualified despite the defeat in the final round against Ittihad to be the only Iranian team in the round of 16 joining all 4 Saudi teams, 2 from Uzbekistan, and 1 from UAE. Persepolis under Yahya Golmohammadi and Nassaji Mazendran under Mehdi Rahmati, Iran’s two other representatives, did not make it.

This qualification pretty much sums up the poor and controversial local league of Iran. Lifeless and boring matches filled with time-wasting, faking injuries, and the customary players protest against referees, poor officiating, lousy coaching typically from the Iranian coaches who excel in creative excuses for their low standards, and chaotic management at the club level all cumulated to producing a poor league that is nowhere near the standards displayed by other Persian Gulf clubs. The only positive of Iran’s league is the passionate fans who still flock to the stadiums to watch their beloved teams.

Football has deteriorated in standard for many years in Iran. It is not a shock that only one team out of three qualified and even then, not at the top of the group but by being one of the best second-placed teams. This poor league standard will surely be reflected in Team Melli which is currently the oldest team in Asia, perhaps even the world, with the same names bar slight changes, being recalled to the Team time and time again. There is a lack of exciting players, even the new players called to Team Melli are near their thirties!

No single reason can be pinpointed for this downfall with opinions differing on which factors are the worst. In our view, the prime and the most vital reason for Iran’s football decline is the worsening standard of management as more and more ex-generals of Sepah, Pasdaran, and other military establishments are rewarded on their retirement and loyalty to the regime by being appointed to run football clubs and federations. On the other side, those in the know and capable of doing the job are sidelined or neglected.

There is another element that is seldom mentioned in the media and that is corruption. It has reached an alarming and dangerous levels. It is a pandemic that the mainstream Iranian-controlled media is actively and purposely trying to disguise and cover-up.

Due to political and economic reasons, the Iranian coaches are unable to learn from the best in the world. They do not attend international seminars or workshops. There is no strategy to train the trainers by the FFIRI or the clubs. The coaches are self-taught, lacking many basic skills of modern football coaching that prepares the fundamental of a good coach. Many have a terrible attitude as well, which makes it even worse coaching a club and setting bad examples for the players. Only a very few like Hashemian and Mahdavikia have been trained professionally to be coaches, however, none of them are active in Iran’s football as we speak.

In Team Melli right now, the coaching staff are mostly selected based on nepotism rather than competency, knowledge, and skills. This is also repeated at most club’s levels, except for Sepahan and Tractor. It is a no-brainer to pick the best coach in Iran’s domestic league and he is not Iranian. The Portuguese. Jose Morais has an impressive CV, and skills, in addition to excellent attitude, and competency to lead Sepahan into the round of 16 of the AFC Asian Championship. Perhaps the other Iranian coaches should learn from him, notably how he gives playing time to young and talented players to perform at the highest levels of competitions, something Iranian coaches barely dare to do.

Ghalenoei does not believe Team Melli is old!!

“I don’t believe that the national team is old”, the head coach of Team Melli has said.

“We will probably invite four or five young players for the upcoming camp. We have to build support, the same way we did in 2006 when we formed the “B” national team. We don’t have time right now, but luckily the players are in form and have been playing in competitive conditions. They should be with the national team little by little, and in case of changes, it should be done the right time. Many people say that the national team is old, but I don’t believe so. There is no place for youth in the national team“, he said:

“Ehsan Haj Safi played 90 minutes against Marseille. The coaching staff of his team checked the physical condition of this player and gave him the go ahead for the full 90 minutes. Therefore, we should use these players as much as we can. Such players are ethically and technically approved by us and put in a lot of effort. Rejuvenation does not take place in the national team; this should be carried out at club levels. Sepahan does this, I have to thank their technical staff. We will announce the national team list on Sunday and maybe two lists will be announced.”

Such statements is quite a disappointment for the fans while some might deem it shocking. But from track record, especially when Ghalenoei took Team Melli to the Asian Cup in 2007, he always seemed to be apprehensive in giving playing time to the younger players in his teams. The case of one Javad Kazemian is a testament to Ghalenoei’s reluctance and even phobia of younger players playing in the team at major competitions.

Despite living in denial about Team Melli being old, he will always rely on such an aging team for glory in the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2023 ignoring the fact that lack of pace, particularly at the back, might come to haunt him in Qatar.

So, young talented Iranians such as Amin Hezbavi, Yasin Salmani, Javad Hosseinnejad, Saman Touranian, Arya Barzegar, Saman Fallah, Mohammadreza Bordbar and Allahyar Sayyadmanesh have to wait for a few years under Ghalenoei for their turn in Team Melli. The current head coach is still thinking of players such as Karim Ansarifard (33 years) and Vahid Amiri (35 years) to join the squad!!

Reza Asadi called back by his club from Team Melli camp.

At the request of Sepahan Club to the president of FFIRI , the head coach of Team Melli agreed to release the midfielder Reza Asadi from national team duties and leave the camp just before departure to Bulgaria for the friendly match.

The midfielder left after two days of training with the squad.

Iran’s national football team left the country on Monday morning, while Asadi headed to Esfahan.

The Sepahan midfielder, who managed to score four times by the end of the fourth week, was prematurely removed from the list for the match against Bulgaria for the rumors mills to start churning,

However, there is a logical explanation for this move hat came from Mehr News. According to their sports reporter, Sepahan requested the release of two players from Team Melli camp, Asadi and Payam Niazmand in a letter sent to the Football Federation. The reason for such request is the upcoming friendly game between Sepahan and Zenit St. Petersburg.

In the text of Sepahan club’s letter, which was signed by Mohammad Reza Saket and handed over to Mehdi Taj, the club reminded FFIRI of the presence of eight Sepahan players in the Omid and Team Melli ranks. These two players are needed for the friendly match with Zenit St. Petersburg.

The request was handed over to Amir Ghalnoei for his final decision. The head coach of Team Melli agreed to release one rather than two players and the choice was Asadi.

It is worth noting that Sepahan players Payam Niazmand, Ramin Rezaeian, Mohammad Daneshgar and Shahriar Moghanlou also stayed in the Team Melli camp and flew to Bulgaria with the rest of the squad.

The match between Iran and Bulgaria will be held on Thursday 7th, September at the Hristo Botev Stadium in Plovdiv.

Amir Ghalenoei appointed as Head coach of Team Melli.

 Amir Ghalenoei, who is on the verge of turning 60, was appointed by the Football Federation as the new head coach of Team Melli as the replacement for Carlos Queiroz.
After 13 years of foreign coaches on the bench of the national team, an Iranian was selected. Afshin Ghotbi , and Mansourian on a caretaker basis, were the last of the Iranians who coached Team Melli. Ghotbi failed to achieve success with Iran in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup as South Korea ended the Iranian dream in the quarter-finals. Alireza Mansourian briefly took over the leadership of the national team for only one game against Russia. After this, the Portuguese Carlos Queiroz took over to begin his long reign of coaching in 2011.
Queiroz has since taken Iran to 5 major tournaments, of which were 3 FIFA World Cups and two AFC Asian Cups between 2011 and briefly in 2022.  The Portuguese who was a difficult character off the field and a strong advocate of a defensive game was a divisive figure among the fans. Some truly believed in him despite his failures in major tournaments, while others thought of him as the major stumbling block to the development of football in Iran.
Post-FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qata, the FFIRI has approached many coaches including, the former Qatar coach Sanches. However, to the surprise of many, Amir Ghalenoei, who has earlier announced that he is out of the race for the Team Melli head coach, was chosen ahead of the rest.
Ghalenoei succeeded Branko Ivanković to become the head coach of Iran on 17th July 2006. He took over while the team was preparing for the AFC Asian Cup 2007 qualifiers. In these preliminaries, he won four games and drew two to qualify for the finals.
In AFC Asian Cup 2007, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Iran under Ghalenoei qualified for the quarter-final stage as the top team from the group consisting of China, Malaysia, and Uzbekistan, winning two and drawing with China.
In the quarter-finals, Iran lost again to its nemesis South Korea in penalty kicks to miss out on reaching the semi-finals. After the AFC Asian Cup 2007, Ghalenoei resigned from his post. his well-respcted record with Iran stood as 
Played Won Draw Loss GF Ga GD
17 10 6 1 30 12 +18
Ghalenoei (born on 21st November 1963) is the most successful national coach in Iran’s domestic league history winning titles with Esteghlal and Sepahan winning a total of five championships and two Hazfi Cup titles. He also managed Tractor.
17 years later, Ghalenoei has another shot to make a name at the international level with Team Melli. There is only one accomplishment that will give him legendary status, and that is lifting the ultimate trophy, the Asian Cup which has eluded Iran for 47 years and counting.
However, Ghaqlenoei comes with by now so familiar heavy baggage of Iranian coaches. The main problem is his demeanor after defeats. He seems to be in denial and lacks the integrity to focus on himself and his players, instead, he diverts the ball to others blaming them for his team’s defeats, particularly the referees. He is also not a stranger to conspiracy theories making up stories about plots and other rhetorics.
Ghalenoei also had a short temper during his first stint with Team Melli. His antic at the touchline, his anger, and his constant protests led to his dismissal in a group match. Hopefully, with advancing age, it is hoped that he has mellowed down a bit.
Overall, this Coach is capable of leading and winning with notable man-management skills. He handles his players well and can influence them positively. Although the federation was hinting at the appointment of a domestic coach, there were fears amongst the fans as the majority preferred foreign coaches. With the appointment of Ghalenoei, it is hoped that many would change that view.
Alas, people should not forget that financial constraints were the main reason for selecting a domestic coach.
Amir Galenoei will be leading Team Melli against Russia on the 23rd of March and then Iraq in the next two friendly games.

Vahid Amiri in danger of missing the World Cup!

Persepolis and Team Melli midfielder Vahid Amiri who was substituted in after the injury to Saeed Aghaei in the 36th minute of the match against Zobahan Esfahan, played an effective role in changing the result of the game from defeat to draw. However, the key Team Melli midfielder suffered another severe back injury in the 88th minute leaving him incapable of continuing the match in the final minutes.

Amiri was so badly injured that he was taken by ambulance in Isfahan from the stadium to the airport where he then was carried onboard a flight to Tehran, where he was treated by a specialist in the Capital. Amiri’s injury seems to be serious, the doctors will decide on his surgery by the end of the week to reduce his inflammation. In any case, Vahid Amiri will definitely not be able to accompany his team for the final four matches.

He will be absent for the matches against Sepahan Isfahan, Traktor, Shahr Khodro and Fajr Sepasi Shiraz. Amiri will undoubtedly stay away from the football fields for four months in case of his lumbar disc surgery so that the influential and key player of the Iranian national team is in danger of missing the World Cup Qatar  2022. He was one of Dragan Skocic’s key players in the qualifiers to ease Skocic’s worries about having a left-winger. It remains to be seen what the doctors will decide about him to increase his chances of returning to the football field as soon as possible.

Former finalists Persepolis kicked out of Asian Champions League

Tehran-based Persepolis, who lost in both the 2018 and 2020 finals of Asia’s elite club competition, are one of three Iranian clubs to have had their licenses revoked.

Esteghlal, winners of the 1970 and 1991 Asian Club Championship — the forerunner to the Asian Champions League — and Gol Gohar Sirjan are the others.

“The ECB (Entry Control Body) determined that the three clubs had not satisfied all of the mandatory criteria … and, accordingly, should not have been granted licences to participate in the AFC Champions League 2022,” the AFC said.

Esteghlal, who were also kicked out of the 2007 edition for failing to submit their players’ list on time, had been due to feature in the qualifying rounds after a third-place finish in the Iranian league.

Gol Gohar Sirjan did not qualify for the competition but the sanction means they cannot be nominated as a replacement for either of the excluded teams.

Foolad have already secured their spot in the group phase after winning last season’s Hazfi Cup, Iran’s primary domestic knockout competition, while league runners-up Sepahan will play in the qualifiers.

The draw for the 2022 Asian Champions League will take place on Jan. 17.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal are the defending champions after they defeated Pohang Steelers from South Korea in the final in November.



Mohammad Mohebbi to Santa Clara

The flight of Iranian players to pastures new continues. This time, Sepahan and Team Melli midfielder Mohammad Mohebbi has joined the Portuguese first division team, Santa Clara in a swap deal. The Azores-based club has swapped their current Iranian asset, Shahriyar Moghanlo for Mohammad Mohebbi.

The Azores logo had already officially announced the deal, with the Iranian player, declaring that the two parties had agreed to a contract valid for the next three seasons, that is, until 2024.

Also, according to the statement issued by Santa Clara, the other Iranian involved in this deal, Shahryar Muganlo – the striker who, in the first half of last season, played in 13 matches for the island’s team, and scored a goal – will be transferred to the old Mohebbi team, Sepahan Esfahan. There does not seem to be any cash involved in this deal as it seems as a straight swap between the two clubs with Sepahan getting Moghanlo who was on loan to Persepolis last season.

Mohebbi is a versatile player who can fill the role of a forward upfront, midfield, or winger and such versatility will surely satisfy the Azurian coach. In the past two seasons, Mohebbiscored with Sepahan nine goals in 41 matches.

Upon his arrival in the Azores, Mohamed Mohebbi expressed his joy on the occasion of signing for the islanders. “I am very happy being here and looking forward to playing in a  European League. I will do my best to leave my mark on Santa Clara,” said the Iranian, in comments carried by communication channels in the Azores.

Recently Kanaanizadegan, Nourollahi, Ghaedi, Hajsafy, and Naderi have all left their Iranian clubs to play abroad.