Tag: South Korea

UAE call on fans to help fire them on in World Cup crunch against South Korea

The UAE insists they can keep alive their chances of making it to the World Cup by inflicting defeat on unbeaten South Korea on Tuesday night – but acknowledge they will need the backing of fervent home support to make it happen.

The national team would have secured third place in the qualifying group – and thus a place in the play-off phase – had they not lost to Iraq in a dismal game in Saudi Arabia last week.

They still have a one-point lead over the Iraqis ahead of the final matchday. However, while Iraq will face last-placed Syria in their final match, the UAE will simultaneously be playing South Korea, the top-ranked side who have not lost a game in the nine matches in the group so far.

Despite the daunting task, defender Abdulaziz Haikal says the home team is capable of advancing and has implored fans to help them in their bid to do so at the Al Maktoum Stadium.

“We still have hopes to get third place and qualification is still in our hands,” Haikal said.

“We will fight to the end, but we need the support of the fans. If they are here, we can win the match.

“Our preparation has been like any other match, but we realize the importance of this. We have to fight to win. We are preparing technically and mentally for this match.

“We are representing our country and our flag. We need help from the fans, and we promise them we will change the picture from the last performance.”

Rodolfo Arruabarrena, the UAE coach, said fans will see a marked improvement from the listless display against Iraq, which culminated in a 1-0 defeat.

“I know we didn’t produce the performance everyone expected from us against Iraq,” Arruabarrena said.

“There were no clear chances for scoring. Anyone who watched the match on TV would have fallen asleep because it was such a bad match.

“But [against South Korea] we will see another performance. I trust the players. I have seen at training that they want to make something happen.”

The hosts’ task has been made all the more challenging by the absence, through suspension, of Ali Mabkhout.

The striker has scored more goals – 14 – than any other player in the world in the course of qualifying for the World Cup.

“We have to win the game by any means possible,” Arruabarrena said.

“Iraq made it a very tough match. They closed the space and there were no clear chances. Now for us, we have to find a win by any way possible.”

Paulo Bento, the South Korea coach, said: “it is not our business” who takes third place, as he pointed out, “we have done our job, we achieved our goal” having already secured qualification.

“In the last game, we went past Iran and achieved first position,” Bento said, referencing his side’s 2-0 win in Seoul on Thursday.

“Now we would like to keep that position. That is enough for us to be motivated and focused for the game.”

The Portuguese coach is committed to winning the qualifying group, rather than experimenting with personnel or resting players.

“We will choose the best starting XI possible to achieve our goal,” Bento said.

“We want to close these qualifiers in the best possible way, gaining the three points. This is an important game for us because winning this game will mean we finish in first place in the group.

“For us, it is a very important game so we are not going to concede opportunities to the players depending on whether they have played more or fewer minutes in the previous games.”

Kim Yong-Gwon, the South Korea center-back who scored in the win over Iran, echoed Bento’s comments. “We have already qualified, yes, but we are a team that tries to put everything into each match,” Kim said. “There will be less pressure, of course, but we will try to play with confidence. All the players know what we need to do on the pitch. We will put 100 percent into the game.”

A win for Team Melli against Lebanon, while UAE stops the Koreans will result in Iran taking the lead of Group A and a better place in the seeding for the draw on Friday.

Carlos Queiroz set to lead Iraq.

The former Team Melli head coach will aim to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with Iraq, a feat that has failed the Iraqis for 35 years.

Carlos Queiroz is the No. 1 candidate to lead the Iraq team, in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, after the team parted with coach Srecko Katanec.

Srecko Katanec has led the Iraqi team since 2018, helping the team qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup as well as advance to the final qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup. However, on July 15, he decided to leave the Iraqi team after 6 months without receiving a salary.

Very quickly, the Iraqi Football Federation targeted the famous coach Carlos Queiroz as a replacement. The Portuguese born in 1953 is currently unemployed, after terminating his job with the Colombian team in December 2020.

Carlos Queiroz is one of the most famous coaches in the world. He led the Portuguese team with Ronaldo to the 2010 World Cup. After that, he had 8 years with Team Melli, achieving a historic back-to-back qualification to the World Cup 2014 and 2018. Before that, he also twice. helped Portugal’s U20 team win the FIFA U20 World Cup in 1989 and 1991.

Carlos Queiroz is likely to lead the Iraqi team to the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Photo: Twitter Iraqi Football Federation.
Carlos Queiroz is likely to lead the Iraqi team to the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Photo: Twitter Iraqi Football Federation.

At the club level, Carlos Queiroz worked as an assistant to Alex Ferguson at Man United in his prime. In addition, he also had a season as a coach of Real Madrid, with the team winning the Spanish Super Cup.

According to local media, Carlos Queiroz is excited about the prospect of leading the Iraqi team. However, he also asked the Iraqi Football Federation to pay him 80% of his salary in advance, which is expected to be up to 1.75 million USD/year. It is expected that this week, the two sides will agree on the final terms.

In the final qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup, Iraq is in Group A with Iran, South Korea, UAE, Syria, and Lebanon. They will open the World Cup qualifying campaign with a match against South Korea away on September 2. On September 9, they will meet Iran at home. Historically, Iraq has only attended the World Cup once, in 1986.

Speculations about Azmoun transfer to Lazio!

A few days after some websites reported that Team Melli and Zenit St. Petersburg striker Sardar Azmoun is wanted by the Italian Seria A club Lazio, no confirmation has been issued by either sides or the players himself.

Azmoun has been linked with a sensational move from Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg to Italian Serie A giants SS Lazio.

Sardar performance this season with Zenit since his January transfer from FC Rubin Kazan , was nothing but sheer excellence. He has scored 12 goals in 16 games helping Sergei Semak’s side lift the Russian Premier League title and qualifying for the UEFA Champions Leauge 2019/20.

While the striker was missing for the Team Melli two friendly games against Syria and South Korea for a slight knock, the speculations were rife about plans for his transfer to Italy.

Azmoun, who has been previously linked with the Italian club in the past seasons, has recently signed a contract with FC Zenit which would make such transfer little complicated for Lazio.

It is quite unlikely for Azmoun to leave Zenit after such a short stay.

Marc Wilmots to arrive in Tehran on Wednesday

TEHRAN – An unnamed source in the Iranian football federation FFIRI has mentioned that ex-Belgium coach Marc Wilmots will arrive in Tehran on Wednesday to finalize his deal.

FFIRI will reportedly pay the 50-year-old coach and his two Belgian assistants $1,500,000 per year.

The Iranian federation also wants former Team Melli captain Javad Nekounam to be a member of the coaching staff.

Parliament Member Mohammad Reza Tabesh has also said Wilmots will most likely pen a contract with the Iranian federation. His source of information is unverified.

The Belgian led his homeland to the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, but was sacked after that tournament in France.

Wilmots, who is also on the Scotland’s list of candidates, is set to replace Carlos Querioz in Team Melli.

He has been without a team after leaving the Ivory Coast coaching position in November 2017.

Wilmots will start his work as Iran coach in two friendly matches against Syria and South Korea, scheduled for June 6 and 11.

Lippi ” China need ‘more focus’ ahead of Iran Asian Cup quarter-final clash”

Marcello Lippi said China need to learn how to focus for an entire game ahead of their crunch Asian Cup quarter-final with Iran, the biggest – and possibly last – game of his tenure.

The Italian World Cup-winning coach hailed his players after they overcame Thailand 2-1 to reach the last-eight, saying they had proved they were among the best in Asia.

But Lippi, 70, said China still had a habit of drifting in and out of games after another Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in which they trailed 1-0 midway through the second half.

“Chinese players have to improve psychologically,” said Lippi, who is expected to leave China after the Asian Cup following two and a half years at the helm.

“Sometimes they need to be much more focused and concentrated and pay more attention during the game. It’s a psychological thing. It’s very important to have the same intensity, the same determination from the beginning of the game.”

China were under the cosh against Thailand on Sunday until Lippi switched his formation at half-time, turning the tables as they swamped the Thais for much of the second period.

But Iran, Asia’s top-ranked team, will provide a much stiffer test and the expectation is that after Thursday’s game in Abu Dhabi, China will be packing their bags.

Lippi already appeared to be defending his record when he volunteered statistics that in his 10 competitive matches, China have won six and lost only two, to Iran and South Korea.

“That means I have to be very proud of my players,” he said, adding: “I’m very satisfied because this team is getting great results and we’re in the quarter-finals, which means we’re one of the top eight Asian teams.”

Reaching the quarters matches China’s performance of 2015, when the Asian Cup had only 16 teams rather than 24. China have never won the trophy in 11 previous attempts.

However, Lippi also sounded the alarm for future Chinese teams after fielding an ageing line-up including four starters in their thirties, and only one younger than 26.

Captain Zheng Zhi, widely expected to quit the national set-up after the Asian Cup, remains a vital cog at 38, while goal-scorers Xiao Zhi and Gao Lin are 33 and 32 respectively.

“I can say this is a problem for the future of the Chinese team,” Lippi said. “Because if the best players are always (in their thirties) it means that right behind them there aren’t any young players coming up.”

Iran, the strongest contender for the title.

As the AFC Asian Cup is drawing closer, the pressure on Carlos Queiroz mounts to prove his worth with Team Melli by winning the 17th edition of the continents top prize.

The Portuguese head coach, whose resume included world class teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Portugal and South African national teams, has spent enough time in Iran and Asia to mount a serious challenge for the continent most coveted trophy which eluded Iran for 43 years.

For over 5 years, Team Melli has been ranked at the top of FIFA Ranking, rudely interrupted by Japan in one or two occasion. Under Queiroz’s leadership, Iran made it to two World Cups with ease it should be said, against tough opponents such as South Korea and Uzbekistan.

Iran stars such as Azmoun, Jahanbakhsh and Ansarifard have not performed anywhere near some of the other Asian footballers in Europe and none of them seem to be able to hold a place in their teams. South Korea’s Son Heung-min ,  is indispensable  member of the English Premiere league title contenders , Tottenham ,  Ki Sung-yueng is an important player for Newcastle, Australia’s brilliant goalkeeper  Mathew Ryan , has been Brighton’s saviour, Tom Rogic of Celtic  plays a major role for the Scottish champions, Japan’s Maya Yoshida (Southampton) ,  Shinji Kagawa (B. Dortmund),and Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City) all passed the grade for their  European Teams. It is interesting to note however, that Japan’s coach Hajime Moriyasu in true Japanese tradition opted for a team filled with young Europe-based talents, leaving stars like the latter two players off the squad. In brief, individually, the other Asian footballer have fared much better in Europe than Team Melli players.


Success at National team level in a competition such as the AFC Asian Cup cannot be judged on the individual star of a team. In the true meaning of the word, it is the team, in a collective sense that makes a difference at the end. The combination of Queiroz with his experience, knowledge and tactical acuteness with this group of talented and capable Iranian footballers, whom he has built and molded to his liking, is an excellent recipe for success. This is perhaps the best Iranian team since 1976 and many pundits know it and swear by it.

It is football, after all. One or two teams can spring a surprise. Australia, the defending champion minus a few of their stars from 2015 , Japan’s young yet tactically sound team, South Korea with a tradition ,  tactical discipline and winning mentality are as good as any to win the title.  There are also some outsiders, including Qatar, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia who might have a say in the tournament too.

Considering all factors, Iran and Queiroz still hold the upper hand and they are the team to beat. Barring some of the reckless finishing that have marred their recent performances, the trio up front in Team Melli can beat the best of their opponents. A solid defense is vital for any team with aspiration of winning championships and Team Melli has it all. In fact, Queiroz has a problem of riches in defense with all the defenders in the squad on similar forms and standards.

Ezatollahi’s absence in the defensive midfield role is a real, perhaps the only blow to Queiroz, but there is enough quality in the team to ensure his absence is not felt.

Success and chances of lifting the trophy will be greatly enhanced when personal, and tactical discipline (Queiroz is most defiantly should lead by example from the touchline) is at its highest. Not allowing the outcome of the match to be dependent on vacillating referees’ such as Ben Williams calls is a key factor.

On a positive note, Team Melli will have the greatest support outside of Iran in the UAE. The great Iranian community will be ever present to cheer the boys. This support cannot be underestimated.

Now all that remains is for the likes of Azmoun, Taremi, Ansarifarfd and Jahanbakhsh to convert their chances on the pitch and leave lady luck in the dressing room.

Fariba detects lack of ambition in Queiroz’s Asian Cup objectives.

“I believe Team Melli is going to have a tough time challenging for the title against opponents such as Japan, South Korea and Australia, all fighting for the crown ” Behtash Fariba said in a recent interview.

The former Taj & Team Melli player, was a sensation when he started in Iranian football. Despite his short career in Team Melli, he was the most prolific scorer in the history of the team. Fariba was commenting on the status of Team Melli ahead of the AFC Asian Cup tournament. “Meanwhile, teams such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are also contenders for the title. Fourth grade teams such as Yemen and Vietnam have progressed well in football, and it’s unreasonable to expect four or five goals margin against these so-called minnows. In Asian football, countries like India are investing heavily and developing. They are building for the future in the hope of being Top Asian Football nation.”

He continued: “For the past eight years, Queiroz has been in charge of the national team” he said. “The coach has introduced many young players who have now developed and matured, quite a number of them play outside of Iran and have gained great international exposure. Team Melli top players in the Persian Gulf league are among the best in Asia and henceforth this squad is one of the finest team that has been prepared for the Asian Cup in recent years. I believe that we have 80 percent chance of lifting the trophy.”

Fariba, in response to a recent statement by Queiroz, who said that our objective is to make it to the semi-finals, along with Australia, Japan and Korea, stated: “We have already made it to semifinals several times and won the title on 3 of them also winning third place a few other times. May God bless his soul, Parviz Dehdari won third place while he was on the shoestring budget and half of his players abandoned the squad because of rivalry and internal politics leading to boycott of Team Melli. He won third place with much under-strength team.”

“Queiroz words in this sense are not logical. It sounds to me like there is a lack of confidence and ambition. Maybe the coach wants to have some justification ahead of any possible negative result. We have a good team and Queiroz is expected to challenge and win the Asian Cup. That is the least he can do after 8 years at the helm to declare his success.”

Faghani ensures Iran’s presence in the FIFA World Cup 2018

Alireza Faghani has been awarded his third FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 match.

The top Iranian referee will be in the centre of the action for the match between Argentina and France in round 16 of the competition. Faghani has already refereed two matches in the tournament.

In both his showing , the 40 years old Faghani, who was born on 21 March 1978 in Kashmar, a city near Mashhad, delivered excellent performance in the two difficult matches. Faghani would be refereeing his 4th ex FIFA World Cup winners when the likes of Messi and Pogba meet in Kazan on 30th June.

2018 FIFA World Cup – Russia
Date Match Venue Round
17 June 2018  Germany –  Mexico Moscow Group stage
27 June 2018  Serbia –  Brazil Moscow Group stage
30 June 2018  France –  Argentina Kazan Round of 16

Faghani became a FIFA referee in 2008, only a year after officiating in the top flight league in Iran. soon after Faghani moved up the ladder quite rapidly in Asia. After only one year of international experience Faghani took charge of the 2009 AFC President’s Cup Final played between Regar-TadAZ Tursunzoda and Dordoi-Dynamo Naryn which was won 2–0 by the hosts. A year later he was again in charge of a final but this time it was a much more important final in the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup where the winner qualified for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

He was named as the fourth referee for the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup between Brazil and Croatia. He also refereed the 2014 AFC Champions League Final first leg match between Al-Hilal and Western Sydney Wanderers. Faghani was one of the officials of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, refereeing his first match in Group B between Saudi Arabia and China that ended 0–1. Faghani awarded Saudi Arabia a penalty kick but Naif Hazazi missed it.

He reached a significant milestone when he was awarded the refereeing of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup Final, between South Korea and Australia. Faghani was the referee in the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Final between Club Atlético River Plate and FC Barcelona. Perhaps even more important milestone  was the 2016 Olympic football final match between host Brazil and Germany.

Faghani was referee in six matches of the 2017 Liga 1 in Indonesia and two matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. In the semi final match between Portugal and Chile he caused controversy by not calling a penalty on Chile’s favor, refusing to use the recently implemented Video assistant referee.

Saman Ghoddos Ineligible to play for Team Melli


The excitement of the Swedish-born Iranian appearing for Team Melli has turned to a major disappointment after FIFA declared that Saman Goddos is ineligible to play for Iran.

An unnamed administrator in FFIRI has informed Khabar Varzeshi newspaper that FIFA has rejected Iran’s application due to lack of proper documentation and proofs. As such, the chance of Ghoddos making his debut tomorrow against Syria has disappeared.

As a result of his Iranian parentage, Ghoddos was eligible to be called up by both Iran and Sweden. In December 2016, Ghoddos was called up by Sweden manager Janne Andersson for friendlies against Ivory Coast and Slovakia. He scored his first international goal for Sweden in a 6–0 win over Slovakia on 12 January 2017.

In June 2017, Ghoddos revealed that he had been approached by the Iranian football federation. In an interview in July 2017, Ghoddos stated that he may accept an invitation to play for Carlos Queiroz’s Iran if he is asked. He applied for Iranian citizenship on 21st August, stating that it is an honor to play for Sweden and his decision to represent either country is “fifty-fifty”.

Ghoddos was not called into Sweden’s World Cup qualification squad on 23 August, with Janne Andersson opting to choose expatriate footballers and stating that Ghoddos is not far from a call-up if he were to remain with the Swedish national team.

 in an interview on 25 August 2017, Ghoddos confirmed that he received his Iranian passport from the embassy. The following day, 26 August 2017, he announced on his Instagram page that he would be joining Team Melli for their 2018 World Cup qualifiers against South Korea and Syria.

The Östersunds FK midfilder was called up for the first time to Team Melli squad on 27th August 2017 by Carlos Queiroz for Iran’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Korea and Syria.

Queiroz “We are not afraid of playing in front of big S. Korean crowd”

By Yonhap  Aug 29, 2017 

Iran’s national football team head coach Carlos Queiroz said Tuesday his side is not afraid of playing the World Cup qualifier this week at a stadium packed with South Korean fans.

Iran and South Korea will go head-to-head at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday. Both teams are in Group A in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Korea Football Association earlier said it expects some 60,000 fans at the 66,704-seat stadium, and they will boost the energy for South Korean players on the pitch. Queiroz, however, said his team will not be influenced by a big home crowd since the players are familiar with such an environment.

“I think it will be a little bit easy for us to play,” Queiroz told South Korean reporters at a hotel in western Seoul. “Usually at home, we play with 100,000, so it’s easier for us to play with 60,000.”

With two matches remaining, Iran have already affirmed their presence in the 2018 FIFA World Cup by clinching the top spot in the group with 20 points. In addition, Iran have not lost their last four encounters with South Korea, winning all matches by the score of 1-0.

Queiroz, however, showed his respect to South Korea, saying it’s an “honor” and “privilege” to compete against the Taeguk Warriors.

“When we play against South Korea, it’s a great opportunity for us to learn and improve,” he said. “You have great players, great facilities and great coaches, so it’s an honor and privilege for us to be here.”

After arriving in South Korea on Saturday, Iran trained at an auxiliary football field near Incheon Asiad Stadium in Incheon on Sunday and moved to Paju Stadium in Paju, north of Seoul, on Monday to have another training session.

On Tuesday, Queiroz canceled the official training in Paju and had a simple exercise at a field near the team hotel. The coach is still waiting for two more players to join the national team. He has called up 24 players for their World Cup qualifiers.

“Sometimes, the best training is not training,” he said. “Our players are tired from traveling, so we decided the best thing for them is to relax and recover their energy.” (Yonhap)