Tag: Tashkent

Uzbekistan to host Team Melli in Tashkent


Tashkent: Uzbekistan will play Iran on Tuesday in a meeting between two sides looking to establish an early advantage in Group E of the Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™.

Both opened their campaigns with resounding wins on Thursday while Hong Kong, China, and Turkmenistan will square off needing the points. 

Iran, seeking to qualify for a fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup, were in a class of their own against Hong Kong at the Azadi Stadium on Matchday One.

Sardar Azmoun led the way with a brace as Iran staked an early claim on a spot in the next round.

Uzbekistan were equally impressive, defeating Central Asian rivals Turkmenistan away as they started their campaign to make the third round after missing out on the same stage for the 2022 edition. 

Hong Kong will hope home comforts will carry them past Turkmenistan as the East Asian side look to maintain their recent momentum which saw them returning to the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 1968 and qualifying for the Asian Games semi-finals for the first time.

Turkmenistan, however, will be equally desperate to get points on the board and home advantage may not be enough for Hong Kong. 

Tuesday’s fixtures
Hong Kong, China v Turkmenistan
Venue: Hong Kong Stadium (Hong Kong)
Kick-off: 20:00 (UTC+8)

Uzbekistan v Iran
Venue: Bunyodkor Stadium (Tashkent)
Kick-off: 18:00 (UTC+5)

Russia withdraws from CAFA tournament

Earlier this week it was announced that the Russian national football team has accepted CAFA’s invitation to participate in the first Central Asian Football Associations tournament in June of this year as a guest, with the presence of Central Asian teams, including Iran, but the Russians suddenly changed their minds.

The Russian Football Federation announced that this country will not participate in CAFFA. Today, “Valery Karpin”, the head coach of the Russian national football team, in an interview with the TASS news agency, explained the reason behind the withdrawal of this country’s team from CAFA after initially agreeing to attend. Karpin said that “the playing surface, the timing, and the weather conditions were the reasons for this decision.

Karpin said: There are several reasons. The first is the time of holding competitions. On June 11, the final of the National Cup will be held, and the decision to participate in the tournament should have been made in advance. The head coach of Russia added: You also have to consider the conditions of the competition. The tournament is in Tashkent or Bishkek. It is clear that the air temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius. I want to remind you that in Bishkek there is an artificial grass pitch where the risk of injury increases significantly. For example, after the game in Bishkek last fall, five players of the Russian national team could not participate in the next game.

In response to critics saying that the decision to withdraw from CAFA was wrong because Russia does not have many choices to play the preparation game on FIFA Day, he said: “Yes, our choices are not really great, but this does not mean that we sacrifice the health of the players and the opportunity to spend vacations. be completely deprived of them. Moreover, this is not an official tournament, but a friendly tournament. If participating in competitions is part of the preparation for official competitions, it may be worth the risk.”

The head coach of the Russian national team emphasized the future plans of the team: “The officials of our federation will do their best to hold friendly games in the next windows of the International Football Federation (FIFA) calendar, including in June. We hope that the negotiations will bear fruit and we will be able to hold a full preparation camp with a couple of matches. Ideally in Russia and with our fans.” According to Mehr’s reporter, Iran’s national football team hoped to be in this competition with the presence of Russia and experience some serious tests. Now, with the withdrawal of the Russians, it is not clear whether Team Melli will go to Kyrgyzstan or not. In his latest interview, the head coach of Iran’s national team, Amir Ghalenoei, said that participation in CAFA is conditional on holding a meeting with Mehdi Taj, the president of the Football Federation.

Meanwhile, some Russian football experts are already critical of the Russian decision to withdraw, with some sarcastic remarks about Karpin’s reasoning. especially about the temperature of 30 degrees C. It seems that Karpin’s players are built for arctic weather football only and will melt in the temperatures of 30 degrees.”

Valery Ovchinikov, a former Russian player and coach, was also critical of the decision and commented by accusing the Russian team of being afraid of possible defeat against Asian teams. Ovchinikov said: “The weather is a good excuse not to participate inCAFA. We don’t play in the summer. We are used to the cold! He continued sarcastically: The Russian Football Federation probably thinks that our football is played by the Chukchi people (indigenous people of Russia who are close to Siberia). We mustn’t go to the racetrack in the summer or we’ll melt!”

Iran’s youth final preparation for the AFC U20 Asian Cup.

The AFC U20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023 will start on the first of March 2023, with Iran grouped with Qatar, Australia, and Vietnam in Group B of the competition. The matches will be played in Tashkent and Fergana. Javanan Team (Iran U20) will have its final practice game this afternoon in Tehran against the Pas team.

Iran’s U20 is currently coached by Samad Marfavi who has coached at several club levels including Esteghlal. The Team will be flying directly to Fergana, the venue of the first match versus Qatar on a chartered flight thus avoiding commercial flights which would have taken the squad 23 hours to reach Fergana.

Group B

Qatar, Australia, Vietnam, Iran

This group looks like another tough-looking group that has two former winners in Iran and Qatar, 2010 runners-up Australia and 2016 semi-finalists Vietnam.

Qatar were perfect in Group B of the Qualifiers as they cruised to wins over Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Bahrain, scoring 14 goals and conceding just once.

Iran were equally impressive, topping Group J with nine points while Australia didn’t put a foot wrong either in Group H, also registering three wins.

Vietnam are the odd ones out, sealing their place in the Finals as among the five best runners-up after finishing second in Group F.

The Southeast Asian side, however, have become a force to be reckoned with at all age-group levels, and fans can rest assured there will be no easy matches in Group B.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023 – 19:00 Istiqlol Stadium, Fergana
Qatar Iran
Saturday, 4 March 2023 – 15:00 Istiqlol Stadium, Fergana
Iran Australia
1 March 2023
Tuesday, 7 March 2023 – 15:00 JAR Stadium, Tashkent
Vietnam Iran
Iran won this championship 4 times in a row in 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1976. After the revolution, Iran has failed to win any titles and the drought at the youth level is now at a staggering 47 years!!
Lack of resources, poor preparations, sub-standard organization, and Iranian coaches’ standards have been the Achilles’ heel of Iran’s youth football.
Samad Marfavi, like many other Iranian coaches, has stagnated and lacks knowledge of modern football. The failure of the football federation to prepare a cadre of good domestic ex-footballers to turn into quality coaches by sending them abroad for quality education and coaching seminars has limited the success of Iranian caches. Much of the success of the youth teams evidently is due o individual performances rather than teamwork and quality coaching.
While at this level, the standards of teams are quite close and predictions are difficult, Iran U20 has as good a chance as any of the teams. The physicality of the Iranian players is always a strong point, but the Qatari and Australian teams benefit from quality coaching and long-term career development by their respective football associations, something that the Iranian side lacks in earnest.
This group is a tight call. Iran players need to be strong mentally as much as physically to navigate through the group round.

GK ADIB ZAREI (Shahin Bushehr)

(Fajr Sepasi)
(Iman Sabz Shiraz)
(Sepid Roud Rasht)
(Nassaji Ghaemshahr)

MF ABBAS SHARAFI (GolGohar Sirjan)


Embarrassing loss to Turkmenistan in AFC U23 Asian Cup

Mehdi Mahadavikia was observed wondering why on earth he took this unwanted and unpopular job while watching his players’ desperate attempt to equalize in the dying minutes of the match while Turkmenistan was leading 2-1 against his 10 men team.

It was clear that the head coach of Iran’s Omid Team was not stunned by the result, perhaps knowing his players’ capabilities, it was not a great surprise for him or, he is a brave coach who has not lost hope and seriously think they can do it. In both cases, Omid Team was far from a convincing team. It lacks the capacity and skills to make itself count amongst the Asian elites. The team was defeated and once again has to resort to prayers in order to qualify out of the group with one match left against the strongest team in the group.

Omid team in fact started quite well and scored early through Alireza Bavieh, a player that later will become a villain and who was one of the reasons for the team’s downfall due to his utter idiocy.

Ball distribution was immaculate as Mahdavikia’s boys controlled the game and most of the time was spent in Turkmenistan’s half. But teams don’t win matches based on ball possessions. The Forward line was ineffective and toothless. Turkmenistan keeper hardly had to make a save in anger since he picked up the ball from his net early in the first half.

The more the Iranians attacked the easier the Turkmen defended with confidence. Omid Team’s finishing was atrocious as the players were both slow in pace and thinking. They missed the target more often than not. The performance was marred by players failing to take the right options, simple passes, lack of focus, and general lack of pac. The team looked quite amateurish at times and it hardly threatened the opposition.

On the other hand, the defense and the keeper of Iran’s U23 team were shakey. Every time the Turkmen attacked they created havoc in the Omid defense. The lack of confidence and coordination was evident when a silly uncalled-for penalty was conceded in which Turkmenistan scored the equalizer.

After that, the Omid team was on a downhill path. It was sad and pathetic to witness Iran’s team trying to cheat by diving against a team like Turkmenistan, seriously sad moment for Iranian football.

And then came that most stupid of acts by the goals scorer Alireza Bavieh whose wild tackle in the middle of the field while the Turkmen player posed no threat whatsoever against Iran’s goal. Bavvieh’s tackle was high and dangerous. He received his marching order for Iran to continue with 10 players.

A brilliant goal from Turkmenistan sealed that match as Mahdivika’s team lost 2-1 and therefore requires a miracle to qualify from the group. A miracle, hopes and prayers are something we are by now used to at this level of Iranian football.

AFC U23 : Iran-Turkmenistan match preview

After settling for a point against Qatar on Matchday One, head coach Mehdi Mahdavikia wants Iran to improve their sharpness in front of the goal after mustering only three shots on target from a total of 14. In a performance that was more worrying than encouraging, the Omid Team (U23) lacked sharpness, and finishing touch in a performance marred by fundamental defensive errors. A better team than Qatar would have inflicted some damage on Team Melli.
“My players had a lot of opportunities in our opening game against Qatar but we couldn’t convert our chances and this is a problem,” said Mahdavikia. “We lost two points even though we were the better team in terms of possession. After conceding late in the second half, we managed to salvage a point and we must do better against Turkmenistan.”
The former Iran International stressed his team must remain focused on Turkmenistan as the three points are crucial.
A failure to win the 3 points will put the Iran U23 team in a difficult position as they are going to face group leader and host Uzbekistan in their final group match.
“The game against Qatar is finished now and we must stay completely focused on the next match. We started our recovery and we are looking forward to getting the three points against Turkmenistan. We respect all teams, but we need to get the three points against them.”
Meanwhile, Ahmet Agamyradow’s Turkmenistan faces another litmus test when they meet Iran in their AFC U23 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2022 Group A tie on Saturday.
Turkmenistan, who are appearing in the AFC U23 Asian Cup for the first time, held their own against hosts Uzbekistan on Matchday One but were undone by a penalty as they fell to a 1-0 defeat.
Agamyradow, while satisfied with his players’ performance against Uzbekistan, admitted they have to be smarter in decision-making during matches moving forward.

“We made one mistake during a set-piece situation and that caused us the game,” said Agamyradow. “This is football and now we have to switch our attention to our next opponents. In our opening match against Uzbekistan, we used up plenty of energy to defend and we lacked ball control in certain situations.”
Turkmenistan almost equalized in added time with Muhammadqodir Khamraliev sending his free-kick just wide and Agamyradow wants his players to have the same fighting mentality against Iran.
“I was very happy with how my players responded when we were trailing by a goal. They showed determination and almost scored in the end with the set-piece situation. I want my team to play with the same intensity as they did against Uzbekistan.
“It’s the first time we are playing in the AFC U23 Asian Cup and to start off with a defeat is difficult for any team. We had a day’s rest and will regroup for our next match against Iran.”

Turkmenistan v IR Iran
Venue: Bunyodkor Stadium (Tashkent)
Kick-off: 18:00 (UTC +5)

Asian U23 Asian Cup 2022: Iran vs Qatar preview

Tashkent: Islamic Republic of Iran and Qatar have promised their best when they kick off their AFC U23 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2022 Group A campaign on Wednesday.
The Bunyodkor Stadium will feature a tie between two teams who have made it past the group stage in previous editions, and both head coaches are aiming to secure an early advantage in a tough group that also includes 2018 champions Uzbekistan and debutants Turkmenistan.


IR Iran   v   Qatar
AFC U23 Asian Cup
Wednesday 1 June 2022 14:00
Venue: Milliy Stadion
Head coach Mehdi Mahdavikia has named a squad with an average age of just 21, but the legendary former Team Melli defender is confident the youngsters can step up to the plate.

“We are here with a very young team but with big goals,” said Mahdavikia. “This will be a great experience for us. There are a lot of difficult teams in our group, but we will do our best to have the best results.

“We have the tournament hosts Uzbekistan, a powerful team in Qatar and a respected team in Turkmenistan. We respect all our rivals, but we want to have the best results in the group.”
Mahdavikia will be missing several players who impressed in the Qualifiers, goalkeeper Alireza Rezaei among them, but the coach doesn’t believe this has weakened his side.

“We don’t have any problems, we have many talented players in all the positions. We believe in them and that they can achieve our goals.”

#AFCU23 | Know Your Group A Teams : IR IRAN

The likes of Almoez Ali and Akram Afif first impressed in the 2018 AFC U23 Asian Cup before going on to steer Qatar to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 title and head coach Nicolas Cordova, who took over the reins from Felix Sanchez, is confident his new generation of players can make their mark as well.
“We know that it’s going to be a tough tournament,” said Chilean Cordova. “The qualification itself was tough. All the teams have the potential to win the tournament.

“We have a good young generation. Still, we have to take into consideration that we’re participating with a younger team than usual, which is part of our long term project to prepare them. I’m sure the future will be the same, where we have good players moving to the national team.”

#AFCU23 | Know Your Group A Teams : QATAR

Cordova said Qatar, who finished third in 2018, had prepared well for the tournament, including having played several friendlies.

“We are generally satisfied with the games (friendlies), because we always look for opportunities to improve and be better. “The teams in this tournament are very good, but it’s about ourselves and competing in our best way.

“We can’t talk about the minimum (target), but the maximum target is to prepare for each game in the best way and to be ready and competitive. If we are well prepared, we can aim to go far.”

Islamic Republic of Iran v Qatar
Venue: Bunyodkor Stadium (Tashkent)
Kick-off: 18:00 (UTC+5)

Skočić invites 23 player for the friendly vs Bosnia-Herzegovina

Iran will play Bosnia-Herzegovina on Nov. 12 at the Asim Ferhatović Hase Stadium in Sarajevo as part of the preparation for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, where Iran are currently third behind Iraq and Bahrain.

The ‘Persian Leopards’ defeated Uzbekistan in the last friendly international 2-1 on Oct. 8 in Tashkent. The 2022 World Cup qualifiers scheduled this year were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The major absentees from the list are Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi, Saman Ghoddos, and Ashkan Dejagah.

Meanwhile, the captain of Bosnia and Herzegovina Edin Dzeko will miss the friendly against Iran after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

The AS Roma forward will miss coming matches against Iran on November 12 and the Netherlands on November 15. The 34-year-old player opened Iran’s goal in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where the Dragons beat Iran 3-1.

Team Melli Squad

Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo), Payam Niazmand (Sepahan), Rashid Mazaheri (Esteghlal)

Majid Hosseini (Trabzonspor), Hossein Kanaani-zadegan (Persepolis), Shoja Khalilzadeh (Al Rayyan), Aref Gholami (Esteghlal), Sadegh Moharami (Dinamo Zagreb), Milad Mohammadi (Gent), Mojtaba Najarian (Foolad), Morteza Pouraliganji (Shenzhen)

Ehsan Haji Safi (Tractor), Ahmad Nourollahi (Persepolis), Omid Noorafkan (Sepahan), Ali Gholizadeh (Charleroi), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Siamak Nemati (Persepolis), Akbar Imani (Tractor), Saeid Ezatolahi (Vejle Boldklub)

Kaveh Rezaei (Charleroi), Mehdi Ghaedi (Esteghlal), Karim Ansarifard (AEK Athens), Sasan Ansari (Foolad)

Team Melli friendlies with Uzbekistan & Tajikistan re-arranged.

On recommendation from FIFA and due to the postponement of the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, Uzbekistan friendly match which was supposed to be played on 8th September has been put off for a month and will therefore be played in Bunyoudkar Stadium on 8th October.

Meanwhile, FFIRI has finalized arrangements for another friendly 4 days later after the Uzbekistan match when Team Melli will host Tajikstan in Azadi on the 12th of October. These will be the first Team Melli matches under the new coach  Dragan Skočić,

the Croat has yet to meet Team Melli as a group in any training session. However, he traveled to several places to meet individual players or observe them in action.

Team melli training camp in doubt as soon as it is announced.

Team Melli will hold its first training camp under the leadership of the Croatian head coach in mid-September.

The team faces three important challenges for holding camp with the availability of players, which can overshadow the camp objectives and Team Melli preparation.

Skocic has yet to have a single training session with Team Melli since Covid19 has upset football activities worldwide. The first schedule camp for Dragan Skocic will be overshadowed by more events as FIFA has just announced the postponement of the Qualifiers from October 2020 to yet unannounced dates in 2021.

The Croatian coach will have the opportunity to face the squad for the first time. Circumstances allowing, it will help the head coach to identify the players he needs for 4 crucial and decisive matches in the qualifying round of the FIFA World Cup 2022.

In this camp, the national team will have arranged two friendly matches, the first match against Uzbekistan will be held on September 9th. The national team will play another match before that, which, according to speculation and information in the Arabic-language media, will be played against either Syria or Palestine, but nothing is certain at this time.

However, two important issues have overshadowed the camp with all the player’s availabilities, which could be a problem for Skocic’s as he may not be able to hold his camp with all the players.

Corona and visa restrictions

Most of the Team Melli squad consists of professional players working outside Iran, mainly in Belgium, Portugal, Qatar, etc., and a few who are playing in Russia, England and Croatia. The hardship that faced Alireza Biranvand in his trip from Iran to Belgium is a bitter reminder, and this issue has raised concerns for most legionnaires that they may have difficulty returning back to their country of work.

Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, etc., provide a two-week quarantine for travelers to countries such as Iran to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. For this reason, Iran, like the Iraqi national team, may restrict the participation of the legionnaires to prevent any problems and difficulties for those playing in foreign leagues. The availability of foreign-based players is of course overshadowed by their availability and release by their employers. With the Leagues scheduling in Europe in such a mess, it is highly unlikely if any player is released by their clubs unless they are of now value to their squad, like Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

The AFC Champions League commitment

The AFC Champions League league will start in Qatar with four Iranian representatives competing for the coveted prize. For this reason, these four clubs will keep their players and not release them for Team Melli. Iranian clubs have never won the AFC Champions League title since its new format and are not considered as title contenders this season either, but will be always trying to upset the rivals and be at full strength.

However, in recent days there have been reports that players’ passports have been submitted to the national team’s department for friendly matches with Uzbekistan in Tashkent. Given that the players will have to rest for a few days on their return from the camp in Uzbekistan, the possibility of the players’ absence from the four teams in the camp will be strengthened or at least they will remain with the national team for a shorter period.

Hazfi Cup.

The League Organization Committee announced that it is willing to postpone the final of the “Hazfi Cup” to a later date for the sake of  Team Melli Training Camp in Uzbekistan. However, the organizer’s condition is that there should be a firm decision on the dates and confirmation from Team Melli administrators before a conclusion is made. Hazfi Cup, which is becoming a real farce in Iran’s football with chaotic and ever-changing scheduling, was to be held mid-September.

With all these problems, Team Melli may not be able to hold the camp at all and with the recent postponement announcement by FIFA in regards to the qualifiers, the Team Melli camp might also be postponed, prolonging Skocic attempt to meet Team Melli players for another few months.

Heavy defeat for Omid team under Majidi.

Iran’s Omid Football Team, which is preparing to compete in the qualifying rounds of the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, suffered a heavy defeat in the friendly match played against Uzbekistan U-23 team in Tashkent on Monday. The match ended 4 -1 for the host.

Omid team has already lost the first game 1-0 but this heavy defeat exposed a lot of tactical and technical shortfalls by the youngsters who are fightening what looks like an impossible battle to qualify for the Olympic after a 40 years absence.

Much has been said about the appointment of the rookie coach Farhad Majidi who has already maintained that he will be leading his team to Tokyo, but reality says otherwise. To mitigate the lack of experience and skills in Omid Team, FFIRI has employed Omid Namazi who has only joined the squad after the first Uzbekistan match. The expectations are all on the ex Zob Ahan coach and former assistance to Carlos Queiroz to strengthen the team tactically and introduce some game plans that actually can win matches.

Commenting on the poor result, Omid Namazi said at a post-match news conference  “It was not a good day for us, we commited lots of mistakes and gave the opponent a lot of space. Uzbekistan was a very strong opponent who played well and made the best use of the space. Of course, we had some opportunities, but we could have still come back in the second half after scoring when the score was 2-1. Unfortunately, while trying to add to our tally, our opponent succeeded in a counterattack and scored the next goal.”

Namazi said at the end: “We have to think about the weaknesses in different lines. Start organizing from the defensive line and step by step to keep the ball in place and strengthen our other lines. We must learn from our mistakes in friendly matches.”