Tag: Yahya Golmohammadi

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.

Hossein Faraki seems to be the lead candidate for Team Melli job.

With the withdrawal of Amir Ghalenoei and Mehdi Tarter, the exclusion of Yahya Golmohammadi from the initial list, and the outright rejection of the offer to coach Team Melli by Ali Daei, Hossein Faraki seems to be the leading candidate for the job.

Notwithstanding the two other candidates (Majidi & Nekounam) both of whom have discipline and stability issues in addition to lack of proper international experience required for the job, Faraki seems to tick all the boxes of FFIRI and most importantly to the authorities, being politically acceptable and loyal.

 In an interview with ISNA, Hossein Faraki acknowledged that his name was amongst several for the post of Team Melli head coach and said ” I was offered the chance for the job in a call made by FFIRI leadership. They sent me an invitation and asked me for a roadmap and plan for participating in the AFC Asian Cup 2023. Of course, there are other options and they specified a deadline for me to respond.”

He continued: “Anyway, it is the national team and it is where I played for many years and had coaching experience too. In the last one or two years, I have had proposals from several clubs, which I have not yet decided on. One of the reasons was the Corona issue, and after that, I realized that the place I want to go to, must have the right conditions and atmosphere to conduct my job. Maybe some clubs have problems and lack facilities, and I also wanted to be in a place where the conditions are available so that I can have an impact. I would like to do something for the national team if I can,”

The former coach of the national team added: “If I feel that something can be done, I will think about it. Many people would love to see me take the post and would love for this to happen to me and for me to get what I deserve. There are different opinions in this regard. Some agree and some disagree, but everyone is entitled to his opinions are it should be respected “

” So far I have not sent my program but I am in the process and will soon submit it to the federation. It will be sent by tomorrow and whatever the outcome will be, it will happen.”

“I don’t like to talk about speculation,” Farraki said about the selection of an Iranian or foreign coach for Team Melli. “Anyway, the decision maker is the Football Federation. Many of our coaches have potential and the desire of every coach is to lead the national team. We also need to motivate the Iranian coach. Foreign coaches have their own values, but under the current circumstances, it is better to give the Iranians the opportunity.

Faraki was born in Tehran on 22nd March 1957 and started his playing career with PAS Tehran from 1976 to 1992), He played for Team Melli  (22 caps/11 goals for Iran), and his coaching career included Esteghlal Tehran, Sepahan Isfahan, Persepolis Tehran

Hossein Faraki played for Team Melli in the first Iranian qualification for the World Cup in 1978. He also won third place in the AFC Asian Cup 1980 in Kuwait with the national team. Faraki served as assistant coach to Branko Ivankovic for three years. Faraki also has the experience of being the head coach of Iran’s Omid national team in 2004. He led Foolad Khuzestan to the League Title in 2012-2013. He also led the Sepahan Isfahan team to the title in 2013-2014, so within 2 years, he has led two different clubs to the championship titles in the Iran Premier Football League.

Team Melli ready for an Iranian coach.

It is high time this federation, aka the regime, thinks of appointing a National coach to lead Team Melli in the next stage which is the AFC Asian Cup 2023 and beyond.

It is now over 11 years since an Iranian head coach has managed Team Melli. The last one who could speak Farsi was Afshin Ghotbi, who left his post following the elimination of Iran in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2011.  Before him, it was Mayeli Kohn who was fired as soon as he was recruited, and before that Ali Daei.

The disappointing failure in the FIFA World Cup should ring some alarm bells in the FFIRI or the Ministry of Youth and Sport, the de facto ruler of football in Iran. There is nothing to suggest that Carlos Queiroz has anything more to offer Team Melli. In fact, his sudden return was an act of desperation by one man whose recent return has created controversy as head of the Football Federation. Mehdi Taj took a gamble by listening to several senior players who thought that Queiroz would be a much better option than Dragan Skocic with less than 3 months to go to the World Cup. That gamble failed, and Team Melli left Doha with two defeats, the first of which was a painful humiliation for Iran’s football.

The return of Mehdi Taj is not a good omen for Iran football. The man is a political appointee and his priority is certainly not toward football development or growth. The object is to safeguard the regime’s interest using the popularity of football as a tool. Such appointments are quite common in Iranian establishments.

The gamble on Queiroz, who was fired from his previous two jobs due to failures,  was part of the plan to preserve the regime while it was suffering the most serious of internal challenges. Queiroz served a purpose and with a handsome payment for a few months, he would abide by the rules.

After  8 years of the Portuguese man and millions spent, Team Melli Queiroz has achieved nothing that a decent local Iranian coach would not achieve. It is now the right time to pick that decent Iranian coach to lead Team Melli in Doha, like the last time under Ghotbi. There is no lack of candidates either, but the best candidate must be Yahya Golmohammadi.

At 51 and after an illustrious football career as Team Melli and Persepolis player, Golmohammadi coached several teams like  Naft Tehran, Zob Ahan, Tractor Sazi, and Padideh before he took over Persepolis in 2020 (for the second time in his career).  Golmohammadi managed to win the league title twice with Persepolis.  While not perfect and has his shortfalls, Golmaohammadi, proved many times that he is a skillful and consistent coach with a winning mentality who can control and lay down the best game plans for his players and could also control rebel players too. Under limited resources and shortages of star players, he lead the team to the title while others clubs with better players and resources failed to do so.  Golmaohammadi therefore must be a leading candidate for Team Melli.

Amir Ghalenoei is consistently ranked near the top of coaches in Iran. The former Head Coach of Team Melli and a record holder of League titles wins as a coach has the attributes and abilities of a successful coach.  His major shortfall has to be the temperament that has put him in all sorts of trouble. This is possibly the only setback with Ghalenoei.

Javad Nekounam is a young and upcoming star in coaching in Iran. His shortage of experience in coaching is covered by his long playing career in Spain under quality coaches. He learned from the best.

In any case, there would be other contenders for the Team Melli head coach job, the important matter is that this federation must give the Iranians the opportunity to manage their own team the way that Morocco, Japan, Australia, and many other teams in the World Cup have done. FFIRI has to put trust in Iranian coaches at some stage, and there is no better time than now. I should be a long-term project too.

Alireza Beiranvand rejoins Persepolis

After an initial agreement with Alireza Beiranvand, Persepolis Club was able to finalize and sign a contract with Team Melli.

Last week, the news of Alireza Beiranvand’s definitive return to Persepolis was published, and now this return has been confirmed by signing an official contract. Beiranvand signed with Persepolis for two seasons and thus returns to Tehran after an unsuccessful presence in the Royal Antwerp of Belgium and Boavista of Portugal.  By signing the contract, Yahya Golmohammadi’s mind is at ease as far as the goalkeeping post is concerned for next season.

It is possible that Beiranvand is going to oust Hamed Lak although the management has denied such a claim. Accordingly, Biranvand not only can not comment on other Persepolis goalkeepers but also will not have the right to comment on the selection of the team’s goalkeeping coach. Also, Payam Niazmand, who was said to be one of Persepolis’ options for the team’s goal, now has been dropped from Yahya Golmohammadi’s shopping list. Beiranvand hopes to secure a starting place in Team Melli for the World Cup by playing regularly, a thing that he could not achieve in Europe, Also, Beiranvand was dropped as a starter by Skocic after some shaky performances for Team Melli and replaced by Amir Abedzadeh. However, Abedzadeh’s blunder against South Korea handed the goalkeeping post back to Beiranvand against Lebanon.

The Derby ends in a draw with little to shout about.

The much anticipated Tehran Derby between Esteghlal and Persepolis was played on Thursday in Azadi Stadium and ended in a 1-1 draw. The importance of this derby was due to the fierce rivalry between the two teams at the top of the league table, allowing fans entry into Azadi and the selection of players for Team Melli.

Despite the restriction on the number of fans allowed into the stadium, the effect on the atmosphere and the players of the two teams was quite significant as the match was a thrilling contest from the word go. It is estimated that 20,000 fans were presently divided equally between the two teams’ supporters while thousands waited outside Azadi and in the perimeters.

The pace of the game was fast and furious, which excited the fans, but there were very few tactics and beautiful moves in the game.  From the onset, the game was spoilt by the continuous protests from players and the bench every time the referee whistled for a foul!

There is little to write about the positive side of this game despite its importance. Errors in passing, poor finishing, wild tackles, lack of basics of football was quite vivid in this game. Even allowing for the sensitivity of the match, there were numerous schoolboy errors by what was supposed to be a match between the two top teams in the country. The finishing in front of the goal was truly embarrassing and comical. In general, the match was not a good advertisement for Iran’s football whose national team has just qualified for the FIFA World Cup.

The biggest criticism, however, must be fired towards the two coaches of Persepolis and Esteghlal. Golmohammadi and Majidi. Two ex- Team Melli teammates from the same era, have stepped up to coaching without solid groundwork.  They both have a lot to learn in football management but more significantly in anger management and behavior.

From the start of the match, the bench of both teams was the catalyst in bringing the game into disruptions by their constant protests and violations.  lack of manners, shouting, threatening behavior, and the attempt of Golmohammdi to physically attack the referee resembled a scene from a gangster movie rather than a football pitch.

Golmohammadi was dismissed but it was far too late from a feeble referee who could have acted much firmly early on and could easily award a few cards of different colors earlier in the game.

GolMohammadi’s behavior was not befitting a professional coach and his loss of control in front of the camera watched by millions globally, should give the club an indication that the man is emotionally not fit to lead a big club at big events. Majidi is in a similar boat however, he escaped being sent to the stands for being able to control his temper earlier on after a stern warning from the referee.

The weakness of the FFIRI against the top teams is well documented in Iran. Persepolis and Esteghlal are simply too big for the feeble federation. The disciplinary Committee has historically shown reluctance in awarding heavy fines when Persepolis or Esteghlal are involved. Any final ruling would always end up being either appealed and reduced or dismissed altogether.

Shojaa Khalilzadeh to sign for Al Rayyan in Doha

Shojaa Khalilzadeh, Persepolis, and Team Melli central defender has turned up in the Qatari capital Doha to sign a contract with Al Rayyan club. According to Al Arab daily newspaper, Al Rayyan has already concluded the negotiation with the Iranian defender and just awaiting the signatures on the contract.

According to sources, after accepting the conditions of a contract renewal with Khalilzadeh, Persepolis is now dealing with the news of his departure from Iran to sign a contract with Al Rayyan of Qatar Star League. The news caused the club to send a letter to the Qatar Football Federation and Al Rayyan Club regarding the legality of any contract between Khalilzadeh and any Qatari club.

Khalilzadeh, whose contract with Persepolis runs for another season, unilaterally terminated his contract with Persepolis due to the club’s breach of payment clauses. It seems that Persepolis has not paid the player, which is a very common practice in Iran’s football, and hence the player is legally allowed to cancel that contract.

Recently recalled to Team Melli after a seven years gap, the Persepolis defender was supposed to sign his contract extension and amendments at 10:30 AM on Wednesday at the club premises. However, Khalizadeh was upset by some contradictory behaviors of the club’s managers and left for Qatar.

Before traveling to Qatar, Khalilzadeh was contacted by Yahya Golmohammadi, the head coach of the team, Attempts to reach him was futile, because Persepolis defender mobile was turned off. However, Khalilzadeh, after leaving for Qatar, sent a message to Yahya Golmohammadi informing him of his intention to leave the team while wishing him personally and Persepolis’s success in the final of the Asian Champions League.

The message shocked the Reds’ coach, but Golmohammadi has decided not to react to it for the time being.

Khalilzadeh has left Persepolis while there is no news of his official agreement with Qatar’s Al Rayyan Club. However, it is possible that his contract will be signed today, given the player’s presence in Qatar.

Andrea Stramaccioni turns down Team Melli post.

The former head coach of Esteghlal Club has turned down an offer from FFIRI to coach  Team Melli while wishing the current coaching staff of  Iran national football team all the success.

 According to ISNA, in recent days, reports in the social media about Andrea Stramaccioni occupying the bench of Team Melli was so strong amongst the fans, which prompted FFIRI to issue a denial. However, Andrea Stramaccioni’s agent has confirmed such talks between the two sides by posting in social media, stressing that Stramaccioni had rejected the offer to coach the Iranian national team.

The Italian Andrea Stramaccioni started coaching Esteghlal Tehran from 13th June 2019  on a two-year contract up to June 2021

However, six months into his contract on 8th December, Stramaccioni resigned his post in  Esteghlal as the club failed to pay the wages of the coaching staff, a practice that is quite common in Iranian clubs and the football federation FFIRI.

The usual excuse is the sanctions and restrictions on money transfer !!

On the other hand, FFIRI has already employed the Croat coach Dragan Skocic as the head coach of Team Melli. Due to the COVID-19 endemic, however, he was unable to lead the team in any match so far

The signing of Dragan Skocic has raised a lot of issues and suspicions amongst players and experts with many contending that the Ministry of Sports has forced the Croat on the federation!

 While the bets were on Ali Daei, Amir Ghalenoei or Yahya Golmohammadi to take the job, Dragan Skocic popped out of nowhere to get the post without having coached any National Teams in his career.

Farhad Majidi appointed as head coach of Omid Team

After a long and desperate search for a replacement for Zlatko Kranjcar, the FFIRI has finally selected Farhad Majidi as the head coach

The Iranian Football Federation was hoping to appoint a competent replacement to lead the Omid Team after ending the contract of the Croatian head coach Zlatko Krancjar. In the past few months, various options have been considered to coach the U23 team, from Amir Ghalanoei, Alireza Mansourian , Mehdi MahdaviKia, Javad Nekounam to  Hossein Faraki. But all of these coaches refused to accept the offer.

The federation was on the brink of singing Yahya GolMohammadi, but his club did not allow him to leave, as he was still under contract with Padidah. Mehdi Taj and Hamid Estili, the technical manager of Omid, eventually negotiated with Farhad Majidi, who was out of work, to be the new head coach. Estili confirmed the selection of Majidi in a statement to the media. The team must start preparation for the final rounds of AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 which is also the qualifying round of the Olympics Games Men football competition as well as being the U23 Asian Championship. The final rounds will be played in a tournament style in Bangkok, Ciang Mai, Pathum Thani and Songkhala.

Farhad Majidi is the least experienced of all the other candidates who turned the job down. He has only a few games under his arm as a head coach of Esteghlal after he was given the temporary post at the club following the departure of the German coach Schaefer.

Thus the football federation continues its tendency to appoint raw and unproven coaches for the Omid U23 team and hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Iran U23 qualified as one of the second best teams after hosting the qualifiers in Tehran and finishing second to Iraq in the group.

The tournament will start in January 2020 with 4 groups consisting of 4 teams. The first two of each group qualify for the quarter finals. Asia has 3 spots in the Olympic Games.  

The Draw

The 16 teams are drawn into four groups of four teams. The teams are seeded according to their performance in the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship final tournament and qualification, with the hosts Thailand automatically seeded and assigned to Position A1 in the draw.

Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
1.    Thailand(hosts)

2.    Uzbekistan

3.    Vietnam

4.    Qatar

5.    South Korea

6.    Iraq

7.    Japan

8.    North Korea

9.    China PR

10. Australia

11. Jordan

12. Saudi Arabia

13. Syria

14. Iran

15. United Arab Emirates

16. Bahrain

Team Melli Head Coach

Queiroz’S cryptic message!

Carlos Queiroz has sent a cryptic message to the Iranian football community, with a motive that is far from prudent and borders a malicious act!

In a message published on the official FFIRI website, Queiroz praised coaches such Amir Ghalenoei, Javad Nekounam and Mehdi Mahdavikia.

In his message, he said “Football is a game were people have different opinions, and we , the football family, learn that in this game, whether we agree or disapprove on some points, we still have respect for each other. I always admire the courage and valor of my fellow professionals when they rise up and fight for the principles and values that protect the interests of football. For example: Ali Parvin, Ali Daei, Amir Ghalenoei, Winfred Shaefar, Javad Nekounam, Yahya Golmohammadi, Hossein Kalani, Mehdi Mahdavi Kia and Vahid Hashemian. If there is a name in this list of “high courage and personality” that I have missed, accept my apology.

There is very little doubt in any one close to the affairs of Iranian football that this is another dig by Queiroz against his nemesis Branko Ivankovic. However, the timing of this message seems to be strange, especially when Queiroz and his squad are less than a month from the AFC Asian Cup. Queiroz has always demanded peace and tranquil atmosphere during his preparations with Team Melli but such message is not exactly what he preaches, and clearly intended to score a point in his long running dispute with the Croat coach of Persepolis.

Persepolis club with its influence and popularity is fundamental in the support and success of Team Melli. With its massive fan base and supporters across Iran and beyond, the majority of whom have clearly sided with their coach and shouted slogans against Queiroz, this message and exclusion of Branko Ibankovic name from the list of dedicated servant of Iranian football, is ill-timed.

The Croat coach who has served as assistant coach to Miroslav “Ćiro” Blažević and then  head coach of Team Melli twice, taking Iran to the World Cup in 2006, winning the Asian Games Gold medal and winning third place in Asian Cup 2004 in China, he remains one of the most decorated coaches of Team melli. Branko Ivankoivic is undoubtedly a candidate of any such list

Morteza Pouraligangi , the inspired young midfielder.

Naft Tehran midfielder in confident enough to believe that his team can win the Hazfi Cup, in addition to achieving a respectable high ranking in the Persian Gulf League. He also said that he aims to gain the full confidence of Team Melli coach in order to make the squad to the Asian cup. His long term ambition is to play in Europe.

Morteza Pouraligangi , the  22 years old footballer from Babol , in an interview with Mehr News Agency, after his team Naft Tehran defeated Padideh to qualify for the final of Hazfi Cup expressed his satisfaction with his team performance. “We were the better team throughout the match and if I and my other teammates dealt better with the final ball, the margin of victory would have been much better. I think we wasted at least 5 good goal scoring opportunities against Padideh.”


“We could have easily won that match if we managed to score an early goal to draw the Padideh out of their defensive cocoon. They were just thinking of not conceding as their game plan was based upon solid defense while their attack was based on Route 1 (direct route) to the opposition goal “.

Pouraligangi , who was named in the last Team Melli squad and was an unused substitute in the match against South Korea, attributed his team sterling performance to long term vision of the club management and quality coaching.

“After Naft Tehran won promotion to the Persian Gulf League, the club recruited the best coach they can afford and one who had an excellent track in producing and developing talented young players. He was Hossein Faraki , who gave me my first chance to play in the league while I was only 18 years old. After Faraki left, Golmohammadi maintained the same policy as his predecessor of allowing talented players to be given playing time regardless to their name or family backgrounds. Now, Alireza Mansourian who is an expert in youth level football is taking over and doing a remarkable job with Naft which is one of the youngest teams in the league.”

“Most of the young players in our team have similar aspirations. To start with, we all want to gain success and win trophies with Naft Tehran. This is vital for our career success and future. Then we want to build upon that domestic success to reach our goal of playing in the European leagues.”

Morteza Pouraligangi joined Naft Tehran in 2010. The midfielder started his football career for his local club, Peykan Babol , before moving to Pas Tehran , and then Ehsan Shahr Rey before settling in Naft Tehran in 2010 and making his professional debut.

In 2009 , Morteza Pouraligangi was selected for Iran’s U 16 team where he played 4 matches while in 2010 he was a member of Iran’s U 18 playing 2 matches, then Iran U23 where he won 10 caps.

“My aspiration is to be a member of Team Melli. I am hoping that my performance in the league with Naft is good enough to get the approval of Carlos Queiroz.”

“Ultimately , my selection for Team Melli is based upon my own performance in my team. Carlos Queiroz has already expressed his satisfaction with my work in the U 23 team. My aim is to maintain his confidence and reinforce it further on and off the field. Queiroz is an experienced football coach who coached world class players such as Zidane, Beckham , Figo , Christian Ronaldo and others. He knows the strength and weakness of his players and always works to enhance their abilities. I hope that in the next training camp I work even better to enhance my chance for the AFC Asian Cup in Australia.”