Tag: U23

Tough draw for Iran in AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020

Bangkok: Iran’s Omid Team has been drawn in what must be the toughest group of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020.
Joining Iran are the defending champions Uzbekistan, Korea Republic and China in Group C. The Thailand 2020 Finals draw was held in Bangkok on Thursday. Iran had no representation in the draw ceremony.
Uzbekistan will open their defence of the AFC U23 Championship title in Group C with a match against Iran’s Omid Team. It promises to be an exciting group as all three of Uzbekistan’s challengers will be aiming to win the title for the first time.

The fourth edition of the Championship will be played across three cities – Bangkok, Buriram and Songkhla – with the tournament kicking off on January 8, and the final to be played on January 26. Besides Continental glory, 15 of the 16 teams will also be competing for places in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the top three sides will join hosts Japan as Asia’s representatives next July.

Hosts Thailand was drawn in Group A and they will have 2013 champions Iraq, Australia and debutants Bahrain to contend with.
Qatar, third in 2018, 2016 champions Japan, Saudi Arabia – runners-up in 2013, and Syria are in an exciting looking Group B.

Vietnam, runners-up in 2018, have DPR Korea, Jordan – third in 2013 – and United Arab Emirates for the company in Group D.
Should Japan make the last four stage, the other three semi-finalists will be assured of their places in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Under newbie coach Farhad Majidi, Iran’s U23 had a disappointing showing in the preparation matches two of which were against the same Uzbekistan team which they will meet on 9th January 2020. With the powerful South Koreans, who are a title contenders in their own right, waiting next for Iran, it is going a steep mountain to climb for Iran. Realistically, Iran chances look dim for qualification but would be more than happy to be in the top two teams. China, the other team of the group have been performing well qualifying to the finals with ease after beating Laos 5-0 and Philipines 8-0 while drawing with host Malaysia 2-2. The Chinese have two friendly matches arranged in South America in Late November with Colombia in Bucaramanga and then against Peru in Lima.

The star-studded Korean team who are the Gold Medal holders of the Asian Games 2018 may include Tottenham Hotspurs star Son Heung-min who is 27 now. However upfront they have Hamburger SV forward Hwang Hee-chan and Italian Club Verona Lee Seung-woo in the squad. It is not clear if these players will be released for this championship.



Group C match fixtures

9 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla   Uzbekistan Iran
9 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla South Korea China PR
12 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla Iran South Korea
12 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla China PR Uzbekistan
15 January 2020 Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani Uzbekistan South Korea
15 January 2020 Tinsulanon Stadium, Songkhla China PR Iran

Omid team rout Nepal 5-0

Iran’s U23 team (Omid Team)  defeated Nepal U23 5-0 in Group C of the AFC U-23 Championship match held at Azadi today. The first half ended 2-0 for Iran U23.

Iran’s goal were scored by Arsalan Motahari  minute 15 [1-0]  , Behnam Barzay from the penalty spot in the 28th minute [2-0]  , Sardar Azmoun on the 54th [3-0] , Ali Karimi on the 67th minute [4-0] and Shahin Saghebi on 88th minute [5-0].


Unfortunately, the match was played in front of empty Azadi Stadium bar a few hundred that turned up to cheer the Omid players. Nowrooz Holidays is one of the reasons for lack of interest by the fans.

The match was a one sided affair where Iran’s Omid controlled from the beginning not allowing the Nepalese team any time on the ball. Nepal, despite having a few good players, lacked in confidence and ambition and seemed to focus on conceding the least number of goals.

Despite the supremacy of Omid Team , the result does not truly reflect the game as the Iranian players wasted a handful of scoring chances. Considering the opportunities missed, the result could have been easily in double figure by minute 75 of the match. Some slack finishing, lack of vision, complacency and inaccuracy in the last shoot by the Iranian forwards, saved the blushes of the Nepalese team. Credit must also be given to the Nepalese goalkeeper , who was their best player by far, who executed some heroics to keep the powerful Iranians at bay.


Alireza Jahanbakhsh was given a rest day after his long journey from Holland where he played his last game in the league by winning promotion for NEC some 10 weeks before the league conclusion.

Azmoun played with finesse and style however, he was found wanting on several easy balls that he should have scored. One of the more beautiful scenes of the match was his close range powerful header that was spectacularly saved by Nepal keeper.


Despite the emphatic result and the supremacy of the Omid Team against what was a weak opponent whose priority was damage limitation and time wasting, the overall shape of the team was lacking in several areas. The team looked and played like 11 individual talented players each with his own excellent skills.  What blemished the display, however, was the poor teamwork especially in the finishing.

Improved and more efficient Teamwork is needed against the better oppositions. With more games ahead and practice sessions, it is hoped that weakness areas are covered , although none was apparent against a weak team. The are enough talented players in this current Omid team for Iran to stand a very good chance on making it to the Olympics. The onus is on the coaching staff to maintain discipline and good standard in the long road to qualification.

For the first official match , the team gave the few hundred fans in Azadi , quite a lot of hope and by the time Saudi Arabia meets Iran in the last match , the team should have jelled together much better and understanding between the players improved.






Tehran: Iran took the early initiative in Group C of the 2016 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers as the Group C hosts ran out comfortable 5-0 winners over Nepal in Monday’s later match at the PAS Stadium following Palestine’s 2-0 defeat of Afghanistan.

Arsalan Motahhari, who came off the bench to score in Naft Tehran’s 2-1 come-from-behind win over Al Shabab in last week’s AFC Champions League, put the home side one up after 14 minutes before a 27th minute penalty from skipper Behnam Barzay gave Iran a 2-0 lead to take into the interval at the PAS Stadium.

Sardar Azmoun, scorer of two goals for the senior side at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, made it 3-0 ten minutes into the second half and after Ali Karimi added to the Russia-based winger’s strike with Iran’s fourth in the 67th minute, Shahin Saghebi rounded off the victory three minutes from full time, with the substitute getting his name on the score sheet ten minutes after coming on to replace captain Barzay.

Iran are not in action again until Friday when they take on Palestine who will be looking to go into the meeting with the Group C hosts having recorded their second win of the campaign when they face Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Ten group winners and five best second-placed teams from all groups will join hosts Qatar at the AFC U-23 Championship 2016, with January’s 16-team competition also serving as Asia’s qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games in Rio.