Tag: Turkmenistan

Ghalenoei wants a sharper Iran


Ashgabat: Amir Ghalenoei is demanding more potency from his Islamic Republic of Iran team despite having secured a spot at the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™ and reaching Round 3 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers following a 1-0 win over Turkmenistan on Tuesday.
The head coach, who steered Iran to the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™, was unhappy at the profligacy that could have been costly for Team Melli.

“Let me congratulate the Turkmenistan team for the good game they played,” said Ghalenoei. “The head coach has a very good team.
“We could have won by two or three goals, and of course, in the last minutes, there was a possibility that the game would be tied.”

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Mehdi Ghayedi’s first half stoppage time goal decided the match, as Iran found Turkmenistan harder to crack after having scored five past them last Thursday.  
The win put IR Iran on 10 points – the same as Uzbekistan – with both teams assured of a top two finish. 

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Uzbekistan made sure of their spot with a 3-0 win over Hong Kong, China whose head coach Jorn Andersen put the defeat down to the difference in individual quality though the Norwegian still found some silver linings from the performance of his players.
“We did very well in the first 15 minutes but then Uzbekistan increased the pressure and created many chances, proving that they are at a high level,” said Andersen. “Although we lost 3-0, I wouldn’t call it a bad result. The level of several strong players in the ranks of our opponent was the reason for the outcome of the match.
“True, I was not completely satisfied with the result. We conceded very simple goals. But I can say that the guys tried their best. I thank them for that.”

Iran’s Victory in Ashgabat Secures AFC Asian Cup 2027 Berth

In an intense showdown, Team Melli clinched a crucial 1-0 victory over host nation Turkmenistan in Ashgabat. The lone goal, orchestrated by Mehdi Ghaedi, surged Iran ahead just before halftime, sealing their triumph.

Ghaedi’s decisive strike, facilitated by a well-timed assist, underscored Iran’s resilience and determination on the pitch. With this resounding win, Team Melli not only secured a coveted spot in the finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2027, set to take place in Saudi Arabia but also advanced to the third round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers, alongside Uzbekistan, who narrowly trails on goal difference.

Despite the triumph, the match itself was marked by a lack of fluidity, with both sides struggling to orchestrate cohesive moves. While Iran exhibited marginally better form, missed opportunities plagued their performance, epitomized by Ghaedi’s near miss in the first half from an open goal, courtesy of a precision pass from Taremi. Turkmenistan, on the other hand, failed to mount any significant offensive threats throughout the game.

The subpar quality of the artificial turf emerged as a significant impediment to the players’ performance, with several Iranian players sustaining lacerations on their legs during the course of the match. Critically, questions arose regarding FIFA’s decision to permit international fixtures on such hazardous surfaces, prompting concerns for player safety and well-being.

Despite the challenging conditions, Team Melli showcased their tactical prowess, primarily relying on long-ball strategies to penetrate the opposition’s defense. This approach yielded dividends in the form of Ghaedi’s pivotal goal, emanating from a strategic long pass by Hossein Kananizadega, deftly headed by Taremi to set up the decisive play.

Furthermore, the match witnessed the promising debut of Mohammad Ghorbani, who earned his first cap for the national team, signaling a bright future for Iranian football. Additionally, despite the promise of new players, Shoja Khalilzadeh and Ramin Rezaeian were both in the starting lineup and playing the full 90 minutes.

Turkmenistan vs Iran: Match review

Team Melli is gearing up for their next match in Ashgabat as part of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers against Turkmenistan, following their impressive 5-0 victory at Azadi Stadium.

Analyzing Turkmenistan’s Performance

Despite facing a formidable opponent in Team Melli, Turkmenistan’s performance in the last match was below expectations. While they displayed some moments of skill, especially showcased by goalkeeper Rustem Ahallyýew’s outstanding saves, their defense struggled to contain Iran’s attacks. The midfield showed promise in ball distribution, but the forwards encountered difficulties breaking through Iran’s solid defense, led by goalkeeper Beiranvand.

Team Melli’s Strategy and Player Adjustments

In preparation for the upcoming match, Team Melli is making strategic adjustments. The inclusion of young talent like 20-year-old Amin Hezbavi in the defense indicates a shift in the lineup under Ghalenoei’s direction. However, injuries and visa issues have sidelined key players like Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mehdi Torabi, Mehdi Limouchi, and Arsha Shakouri, and the absence of Sardar Azmoun due to injury is a significant setback.

Critique of Previous Tactics

While Team Melli secured a convincing win in the last match, some critics highlighted an overreliance on direct football tactics, which may not fully utilize the players’ strengths. Long cross-field passes and route one football require quick forwards with sharp awareness attributes not entirely aligned with Iran’s current lineup. Turkmenistan’s coaches are likely to study these tactics and prepare accordingly for the upcoming match.

Turkmenistan’s Struggles and Team Melli’s Expectations

Turkmenistan’s winless in their last 11 matches adds pressure to their performance despite the home-field advantage, while Team Melli is oozing confidence as it stands as a formidable force in Asian football. Despite challenges, expectations lean towards another comfortable victory for Iran in the upcoming match on March 26th.

In conclusion, Team Melli’s strategic adjustments, coupled with Turkmenistan’s struggles, set the stage for an intriguing clash in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers.

Azmoun’s injury is more serious than initially thought.

Team Melli and Roma striker Sardar Azmoun is returning to Rome after suffering a ‘serious’ hamstring injury while on international duty with the Iran national team.

The 29-year-old started the match against Turkmenistan and scored the second goal in a 5-0 win over Turkmenistan on Thursday but was forced off the pitch late in the first half with a hamstring injury.

He has already undergone medical tests in Iran and is now heading back to Rome to be assessed by Roma doctors.

The first fitness updates are quite worrying for Roma and their strikers who spoke to varzesh3 after the game and said: “My injury is serious, I need to get an MRI, but I’m sure it’s a hamstring tendon tear,”

Azmoun is on loan at Roma from Bayer Leverkusen and the Giallorossi have an option to make his move permanent in the summer. The Iran international has two goals and two assists in 21 appearances across all competitions this season.
Azmoun is the second-highest international goal scorer for Iran with 52 goals after the legendary Ali Daei.

Roma are expected to release an official statement after the striker’s medical tests in the Italian capital.

Meanwhile, Azmoun is added to the injury list of Team Melli who is preparing for the return match against Turkmenistan next Tuesday 26th March. The list includes Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who is already in the squad plus long-time absentees Majid Hosseini and Sadegh Moharrami.

Team Melli, is one win away from qualifying for World Cup 2026 – Round 3 preliminaries.

Team Melli needs to repeat its victory against Turkmenistan next Tuesday in Asghabad, to clinch a place in the third round stages of FIFA World Cup 2026 – AFC zone.

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FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers- AFC ZONE Round 2 -Group E

Iran plus seven other teams will advance to the Round Three of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers if they win the next game in Day 4 to be played next Tuesday. With seven points and a better goal difference than Uzbekistan, Iran is topping the group. Other teams include Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Japan, Australia, and the UAE are the eight teams that are certain to advance.

Iran will face Turkmenistan on Tuesday 26th at Asghhabat

Taremi: “Iran’s infrastructure deficiency a hurdle to lifting titles”

Iran’s national football team, represented by Mehdi Taremi, the esteemed striker, voiced poignant reflections following their commanding 5-0 triumph over Turkmenistan. Taremi remarked, “We’ve lacked the necessary infrastructure to ascend to championship levels. Iranian football appears to be regressing.”

In the aftermath of their resounding victory, Taremi elaborated on the match’s dynamics, stating, “It was a highly satisfying game. Our performance reflected our ability to create numerous goal-scoring opportunities throughout both halves. We could have easily netted more goals, underscoring our determination to delight our fans.”
Expressing gratitude to the fervent supporters at Azadi Stadium, he added, “The unwavering support from our fans served as a driving force, spurring us to elevate our game.”

Responding to expectations regarding World Cup qualification and progression from the group stages, Taremi adopted a pragmatic outlook, remarking, “In football, especially at this level, nothing is guaranteed. The influx of new players adds complexity to our preparations, presenting formidable challenges. Qualification is a step-by-step process, and our focus remains on delivering our best performances in each game.”

Assuming the role of captain against Turkmenistan, Taremi underscored the team’s collective journey, stating, “We’re a cohesive unit, having embarked on this journey with Team Melli together. As elder statesmen within the team, we aim to foster unity and success, striving to bring joy to our supporters.”

Addressing the inclusion of young talents in the national squad, Taremi acknowledged the inevitable learning curve, noting, “Our young players possess immense potential, albeit with some inconsistencies in training, which is normal. The coaching staff meticulously selects players based on their capabilities, recognizing their potential contributions.”

Reflecting on past disappointments, particularly the AFC Asian Cup 2023 semi-final loss to Qatar, Taremi emphasized a forward-looking mentality, asserting, “I prefer not to dwell on past setbacks. Our focus is solely on upcoming challenges and striving for continuous improvement.”

Expressing gratitude for the robust fan turnout despite adverse weather conditions, Taremi acknowledged the competitive landscape in football, stating, “Today’s matches in the qualifying rounds of FIFA World Cup in Asia, demonstrated the unpredictability of football, even against perceived weaker opponents. We must consistently give our best effort, recognizing the evolving nature of the sport.”

Regarding facilities and support for Iranian football, Taremi highlighted existing shortcomings, stating, “Our facilities have not been conducive to achieving championship glory, contributing to lowered expectations. Sustainable success necessitates more than passion and resilience; it requires structured development, financial backing, and effective administration. We possess the potential; now, we require comprehensive solutions to propel Iranian football to greater heights.”

Team Melli puts five past Turkmenistan

Team Melli, showcased an exceptional performance as they triumphed 5-0 over Turkmenistan in the thrilling encounter at Azadi Stadium in Tehran, marking the third round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers within Group E.

Led by the proficient officiating of Japan’s Yusuke Araki, the match unfolded with Iran’s dominance evident from the onset. Ranked 20th globally, Iran swiftly asserted their superiority over Turkmenistan, solidifying their leading position in the group.

The scoring spree commenced in the 10th minute, orchestrated by Mohammad Hossein Kananizadegan, who soared high to connect with Saleh Hardani’s precise cross, netting Iran’s opening goal. Sardar Azmoun, demonstrating exceptional composure, extended the lead merely three minutes later, capitalizing on Taremi’s adept pass to find the back of the net past Turkmenistan’s custodian, Rustem Ahallyýew.

Although Iran maintained control throughout the match, the intensity of their attacks waned as the first half progressed, with the scoreline freezing at 2-0 in favor of Iran by halftime. The departure of Sardar Azmoun due to injury at the cusp of halftime saw Omid Nourafkan take the field in the second half, bringing fresh energy to Iran’s offensive maneuvers.

Resuming the onslaught in the second half, Hossein Kananizadegan showcased his prowess once more, securing his brace and Iran’s third goal with a determined finish amidst the chaos in Turkmenistan’s penalty area. The relentless pressure continued as Taremi assisted Mohebbi in the 56th minute, further widening the goal margin to 4-0 in Iran’s favor.

In the dying embers of the match, substitute Omid Nourafkan seized the moment, unleashing a stunning strike from outside the box, clinching Iran’s fifth goal. Despite Nourafkan’s earlier attempts being thwarted by Turkmenistan’s resilient goalkeeper, Rustem Ahallyýew, his perseverance ultimately paid off in a spectacular fashion.

Moreover, the match witnessed the promising debut of two young talents, Amin Hizbavi, who featured in the starting lineup, and Mohammad Reza Azadi, who made a notable impact coming off the bench. Additionally, the return of Sayyadmanesh and Saleh Hardani added depth and energy to Iran’s squad, further enhancing their formidable stature on the international stage.

Iran now leads the group and will play Turkmenistan away next.

Evolving Perspectives: Amir Ghalanoei’s Squad Selection and Team Melli’s Future

Amir Ghalanoei, under significant public and media scrutiny, has made a pivotal decision by introducing eight new players to the squad facing Turkmenistan in Azadi, a crucial step in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers. The inclusion of these fresh faces reflects a notable shift in response to public demands for younger talents in Team Melli, along with a strategic move to diversify player selections from various league clubs, breaking the monopoly of the dominant three clubs, ESteghlal, Persepolis, and Sepahan.

Acknowledging the coach’s results-driven approach, it’s evident that Ghalenoei prioritizes experience to secure victories, a sentiment shared by many Iranian coaches. However, this strategy raises concerns about nurturing young talents within Team Melli, a responsibility Ghalenoei emphasizes falls on the shoulders of clubs due to their limited resources and focus on immediate results. Such a situation is tricky, creating a challenging cycle for the national team.

Despite the infusion of new talent, expectations for significant changes in the starting lineup remain low, reflecting Ghaleneoi’s conservative coaching style and reluctance to embrace change or take risks. This conservatism is evident in the retention of senior players like the 36-year-old central defender Shoja’a Khalilzadeh and the persistent presence of underperforming players in key posts like Saeed Ezatollahi highlighting a reluctance to explore alternative options.

In midfield, the absence of versatile midfielder Rouzbeh Chesmi raises eyebrows, given his abilities and impactful contributions to Esteghlal. Chesmi’s wonder goal in the league a few weeks back, would have surely guaranteed him a place in the 29 players list, but it was not to be. Meanwhile, players like Ghoddos and Jahanbaksh, despite club-level challenges, maintain their spots in the starting lineup, showcasing Ghalenoei’s trust in their abilities and potential impact.

Looking ahead to the offensive line, Azmoun and Taremi are expected to lead the charge, despite challenges faced by Azmoun in securing regular playing time. Taremi is experiencing his worst season in |Portugal, but his starting lineup is virtually assured. This reliance on established players underscores the persistent reliance on familiar faces within Team Melli.

While the additions to the roster are promising, doubts linger about Ghalenoei’s commitment to rejuvenating Team Melli, with skeptics suggesting that these changes might be superficial rather than substantive. However, the upcoming match against Turkmenistan presents an opportunity for Team Melli to demonstrate their quality on the field and secure a convincing victory, potentially silencing critics and satisfying fans’ expectations.

In conclusion, Ghalenoei’s squad selection reflects a delicate balance between experience and rejuvenation, highlighting ongoing challenges in nurturing young talents and embracing change within Team Melli. The upcoming match serves as a litmus test for both the coach’s strategic decisions and the team’s performance, offering insights into Team Melli’s trajectory in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

Squad announced for Turkmenistan matches.

Iran’s national football team will face Turkmenistan in the preliminary stage of the World Cup on 21st March in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. This match will be held at 19:30. Iran’s national football team will play the first leg against Turkmenistan on the 21st and then will travel to play away in Turkmenistan on March 26th

Iran is in Group E of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers along with Uzbekistan, Hong Kong, and Turkmenistan. The names of the players invited to the squad for this match were announced by head coach Amir Ghalenoei as follows:


Alireza Beiranvand, Payam Niazmand, Seyed Hossein Hosseini, Aria Shakouri


Shoja Khalilzadeh, Hossein Kanaanizadegan, Amin Hizbavi, Saman Fallah, Ramin Rezaeian, Saleh Hardani, Milad Mohammadi, Abolfazl Jalali, Hossein Goudarzi


Omid Nourafkan, Saman Ghoddos Saeed Ezzatollahi, Mohammad Ghorbani, Ali Gholizadeh, Allhayar Sayyadmanesh, Mehdi Limuchi, Mehdi Torabi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh


Mehdi Taremi, Javad Aghaeipour, Sardar Azmoun, Mohammad Reza Azadi , Saeed Saharkhizan , Mohammad Mohebi, Mehdi Ghaeydi,

Iran v Turkmenistan: Head2Head

Team Melli is gearing up to face Turkmenistan on Thursday, coinciding with Nowrooz, in the second round of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers. The objective is clear: to fortify their position atop Group E and secure an early ticket to the third round of qualifiers.

On paper, Iran’s football prowess dwarfs that of Turkmenistan’s. The FIFA rankings and various metrics underline Iran’s superiority over its northeastern counterpart. However, when it comes to on-field clashes, Turkmenistan proves to be a formidable opponent for Team Melli.

Out of the eight encounters between the two teams, Iran has managed to clinch victory only thrice while suffering defeat twice. Notably, these matches have seldom seen significant score gaps, indicating the competitive edge that Turkmenistan brings to the field.

Turkmenistan’s enigmatic status as one of the world’s most secretive nations, governed by an autocratic leader fond of ostentatious displays, adds an aura of intimidation. This could partially explain Iran’s relatively modest performances on Turkmen soil, although such factors hold no sway in matches played on neutral or Iranian turf.

Despite Turkmenistan’s underwhelming performance, and failing to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 in Qatar, they remain a puzzle for Team Melli. Their inability to dominate a lower-ranked opponent raises questions, especially considering Iran’s football pedigree.


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As the upcoming match unfolds at the Azadi Stadium, Team Melli stands as the undeniable favorite, despite the disappointment of their defeat in the AFC Asian Cup semi-finals against Qatar. With the home advantage and a thirst for redemption, Iran is poised for victory with a comfortable margin. Among those eager to make their mark is Sardar Azmoun, an Iranian Turkmen renowned for his knack of finding the net against Turkmenistan.

In conclusion, while Turkmenistan presents a challenge, Team Melli’s determination and talent are primed to secure a convincing win, propelling them closer to their World Cup aspirations.


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Match Data

H / A / NMatchesWDLGoals+ / –
Home43017 – 4+3
Away30212 – 3-1
Nneutral10101 – 1+0
Total833210 – 8+2

List of Matches

DateCompetetionH / A / NscoreStadiumResult Attendance
12.Nov.2015CompetitionH3 – 1Azadi Stadium, TehranW35,800
16.Jun.2015World Cup Qualifier / Round 2 – GROUP DA1 – 1Garaşsyzlyk Stadium , DashoguzD10,000
25.Nov.1996Friendly H0 – 1Azadi Stadium, TehranL15,000
28.Apr.1996Friendly A0 – 1Ashgabat Stadium, AshgabatL30,000
26.Apr1996Friendly A1 – 1Ashgabat Stadium, AshgabatD10,000
05. Oct.1994Asian Games N1 – 1Bingo Athletic Stadium, OnomichiD7,000
14.Jun.1993ACO CupH2 – 1Azadi Stadium, TehranW1,5000
25. Nov.1996ACO CupH2 – 1Azadi Stadium, TehranW15,000