Tag: Zlatko Kranjčar

Marijo Tot “We have a good chance of advancing from the group

The assistant coach of the Iranian national football team expressed hope that Team Melli would advance to the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2022 for the first time in its history.

In an interview with tportal site, Tot mentioned that this is a historic occasion for Croat coaches. For the second time in history, two Croatian coaches will be leading two different teams in the World Cup. This happened first at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where Zlatko Kranjcar and Branko Ivankovic, were in charge of Croatian and Iran respectively. Zlatko Dalic has now managed to clinch qualification to the World Cup with Croatia, while another Croat Dragan Skocic achieved similar success with Iran.

“We are very happy with this group, it is clear that you can not have an easy opponent in the World Cup,” said Marijo Tot, about Iran’s draw in the 2022 World Cup. England is both on paper and in reality the first chance to win the group title. The other three teams can compete equally for second place. I honestly think we have a very good chance of making it to the second round. There is a major rivalry with the United States because Iran played the United States in the 1998 World Cup and Iran won 2-1. The players who scored in that game have a special place in the country. It will be a special game now that we all know for what special reasons and our players will go to the World Cup with great motivation.”


“In the case of the third competitor, I would prefer Ukraine.” The assistant coach continued: “There is still a long way to go before the tournament starts and anything can happen. But many fans in Iran have the chance to be present for Team Melli in the World Cup. I believe that this time we can take that historic step forward and cross the group for the first time. Alireza Jahanbakhsh from Feyenoord, Mehdi Taremi from Porto and Sardar Azmoun from Bayer Leverkusen are Iran’s first hopes in this cup. We also have players who play in Greece and Turkey. We also have Sadegh Moharremi from Dynamo Zagreb, who plays very well here in Team Melli and was the best player on the field in the last game against Lebanon. I do not want to get into Dynamo’s problems, but given how good Muharrami is, I wonder why he does not get more minutes of play with his club in Croatia.”

About the defeat of Iran against South Korea, he said: “Despite the fact that we went to Seoul with an incomplete team, that is, without 6 or 7 players from the main team, we were quite strong in that game as well. But regardless of everything, we were ended up first in the group. We are the best team in Asia. We travel to this championship with the extraordinary support of the fans who will surely be with us in Qatar.”

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

Zlatko Krancjar ” I left Iran because of sanctions”

The former head of the Iran Omid  (U23) team believes the sanctions imposed on Iran were the reason for his departure from the team, something that has caused other Iranian teams to face difficulties.

The Croatian coach Zlatko Krancjar ended his partnership with Iran’s Omid team and is now back in his own country, according to ISNA. The coach who held several coaching posts in Iran including leading Persepolis and Sepahan in Iranian football league, in discussion about his departure from the Iran team said “I could not continue to work in Iran because of the sanctions. Everything is determined by money, and because of sanctions, Iran’s sport, especially football, is in suffering severely.”

“The administration of the national teams at all age group levels is dependent on the on the government and the state of which it is willing to support, so it is not possible to improve the situation,” he continued. “In any case, I have been in Iran for 6 years and I thoroughly enjoy that period and enjoyed Iran. In Sepahan, I was able to win two trophies. In the Omid team of Iran, I also got good results in the Olympic qualifiers were we qualified for the finals. I’d better rest now.  Also notice that , Winfred Schaefer also left Iran. Branco Ivankovic , who has won three championships in a row and has been in the AFC Champions League final, is facing some financial problems.”

“Pathetic direction and administration of football” Massoud Eghbali

The Iranian national U23 football team (Omid), barely managed to qualify for the final rounds of AFC U23 Championship which is also the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games. Despite having the advantage of being the host, Iraq won the group on goal difference, while Iran had to wait until late to find out if they have qualified as one of the 4 best second ranked team.

The cesarean qualification has led to many discussions and different views on the status of the team and mainly on whether Krancjar should continue with the team after such modest performance. Some experts believe Krancjar should remain at the helm while others are opposed to the Croat continuing to work with Omid team.

In the midst of such arguments , the views of Massoud Eghbali, the official Asian Football Confederation coaching master is quite interesting. Eqhbali spoke to Mehrnews sports reporter.

“The main problems of our football has always been the deep-rooted management and administration of football at its highest level. Football does not have a healthy atmosphere and strong foundation in general. Our organization and conditions suffer from numerous problems, and like cancer it keeps spreading. One of the biggest and most important problems in this football is the management problem. Mismanagement in Iran’s football is a long-standing problem that has existed in these 30-40 years. Management problems have never been eliminated, in fact it has been spreading and getting worst. With each management personnel changes, the problems that existed is passed on to the new managers who are incompetent or unable to improve them.”

It is uunfortunate that these pperennial pproblems have not only not disappeared, they have in fact have increased and become more severe and deliberate. All national teams have suffered from these identical problems. The difficulties in groundwork, resources, programs, logistics and training facilities are facing all national teams in all age groups. “

Look at our senior Team Melli. It is without a coach since January, and there is no solution in sight, just the official propaganda of the FFIRI repeating the same old statements or on the other hand a bunch of speculations and rumors. There are no coaches in other national teams too. The criterion for choosing coaches by the football federation is not right at all. Coaches are appointed, mostly based on nepotism rather than competency or suitability. At age group teams where it is very vital to have quality coaches, there are appointmentS based on anything but merit, subsequently they fail and then leave quietly. There is no appraisal process, no investigation, no inquiry to why the team failed!

There is no board member in the football federation assigned to justify these failures, no one who can explain why these coaches come and go without being investigated. No one is ready to explain the whole process of selections and appointment of coaches. The Omid team of Iran is one of those teams that is immersed in these problems.

Political influences in choosing a coach In the Omid team,

At Omid team we finally choose a perfectly competent coach like Zlatko Krancjar, but we do not facilitate his job and deprive him of the resources. One of the most important tools of any boss is a very strong technical staff with background and experience, involvement in high level competition at club or national team levels. What is happening in reality in our Omid Team is that people with connections to the federation management get the job to sit on the bench with Krancjar. They choose young assistants or inexperienced coaches while ensuring to equally divide the bench appointments between Esteghlal and Persepolis!!

While we were hosting the qualifiers, we failed to win the group but qualified to the final by luck, and if we are realistic, we have to say that there is little hope for Omid Team to make it to the Olympics as one of the 3 top teams of Asia. The team, called Omid Iran in Asia, does not have the quality to be among the top three Asian teams that qualify for the Olympic Games. Most players in this team do not have what it takes to make the grade to the Senior Team Melli. The problem is not Krancjar, he is a quality coach with experience and has coached national teams. Now there are whispers that they are supposed to dismiss him.

Krancjar is a professional coach, tried and tested .If we are to sack him and replace him with the world’s leading coach, with the same problems at hand such as lack of facilities and this lack of cooperation with by the clubs in releasing their players, the same thing will be repeated again and again.

Clubs dilemmas

Among the major problems in Iran’s football is the unwillingness or disinterest of the clubs in grassroots football. For one reason or another, there is no strong urge or commitment to build and form strong academy level teams. Success and ranking in the league table is the utmost priority of almost all the clubs especially those at he top like Persepolis and Esteghlal, which makes it hard for them to focus or have serious interest in promoting the youth

This policy has become a cycle and it turned into a defective cycle, the effect of it is felt at Team Melli level and also in the ranks of the clubs themselves who have to go into the international transfer market and import cheap players, not necessarily good players.

There is a long-term damage in following such policy, and the results are so obvious. Iran has hardly won anything of worth in the last forty years. The Asian cup have eluded them, no Iranian club has won the AFC Champions League so far, Last time Iran was in the Olympic football competition was in 1976 (qualified for 1980 Olympics but subsequently boycotted it) and at youth level, success has been rare.

That is the reality of our football. More serious damage in imminent the future if this pathetic direction and administration of football in Iran continues.”

Omid starts with a win – Iran U23 3 -1 Turkmenistan U23

Iranian U-23 Omid Team commenced its long road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics football competition with a victory against Turkmenistan at Azadi Stadium on Friday.

Iran won 3-1 with goals scored by an own goal, Omid Noorafkan and Reza Jabierah

Although Omid won with a two goal margin, it was far from an easy game and the result was too flattering for the host with Turkmenistan , a persistent and strong team giving the host a run for their money. All the goals of the match were scored from set pieces.

At the Azadi Stadium, about 1,000 fans watched this game with the majority obviously opting to spend the Nowrooz holidays away from football.

Iran Omid Team,  already aware of the result of the earlier game between Iraq and Yemen, with the former comprehensively winning 5-0,  seems to be in urgency to open the scoring early. However, poor organization & finishing, smart defending by Turkmenistan and generally uncertain game plan, they could not reach the opponent’s goalkeeper except for a few times. While the Iranian players failed to score, it was a friendly fire which did the job for them. In the 35th minute a ball cleared from the goal line hit a Turkmen defender and it deflected back into his own goal, 1-0 to Iran.

This was result by the end of a scruffy first half in which the Omid team was far from impressive or organized.

In the second half, Iran appeared to be more calculated and calmer perhaps as the result of the pip talk by the coach. There were no more ideas of an easy win against a stubborn and physically stronger Turkmen team.

However, against the run of play , Iran was awarded a free kick in a perfect area just behind the box in the 53rd minute. The resulting free kick was beautifully dispatched by Captain Omid Noorafkan, whose shot penetrated the defensive wall and hit the far left corner of the goalkeeper

While Iran was happy to play out the game with a 2 goal lead, Turkmenistan hit out.

In the 74th minute, Turkmenistan got a corner kick, which was met by the towering Giordonov who headed the ball beautifully to the left of Meraj Esmaeili in Iran’s goal reducing the margin to a minimum. Suddenly, it was game on and Iranians started panicking.

In the remaining 15 minutes, Omid team played a defensive game thus inviting more pressure from the opponents, who were the more likely team to score the equalizer.

Iranian players were more concerned with maintaining the result than attacking and despite venturing forward on limited occasions, one such attacks ended up with a free kick

It was late in the game  when lady luck saved Iran. The Turkmen goalkeeper failed to hold a ball from the resultant free kick and the ball dropped in front of the Reza Jebeirah who headed from close range to score Iran’s third and seal the game.

While the result of the match was quite satisfactory for Omid Team , the performance was far from it. This team looks incoherent at best and has no natural leader in the field. Perhaps the relatively young age of the majority is one factor. There is distinct lack of maturity in their football with silly and uncalled for showboating such as scissor kicks in impossible situations, back heel passes that did not work or excessive dribbling by Ghaedi who looks like typical back-alley footballer.

One noticeable observation on the Iran bench was the number of people sending instruction to players. At one stage, it looked like Hamid Estili was the head coach with his touchline instructions, then it was the turn of Reza Sharoudi and even Chalangar, who is Kranjcar’s interpreter got on the act !!!

The team is definitely a work in progress which needs a lot of improvement. On Sunday, there will be an easy game against Yemen which they expect to win, but the last match against Iraq is far from easy

Iran U-23 Line up:

Meraj Ismaili; Alireza Arta, Mohammad Aghajanpour, Sina Zadmehran, Mohammad Moslempour, Mehdi Mahdikhani, Omid Noorafkan, Vahid Namdari (78 AbolFazl Razaghpour), Mehdi Ghaedi, Amir Roustaei (63 Reza Jabierah) and Mohammad Reza Azadi

Iran Omid team U-23 Squad list

Zlatko Krancjar announced the final list of the Iran U-23 Omid Team for the qualification rounds of AFC U23 Championship 2020


No. Player D.O.B Age Club Born
1 Meraaj Esmaeili 13-Jan-00 19 Zob Ahan Andimeshk
2 Nima Mirzad 27-Feb-97 22 Nassaji Mazandaran Anzali
3 Shahab Adeli 19-Jan-97 21  Sepahan tehran
4 Abolfazl Jalali 26-Jun-98 20 Saipa Alborz Amol
5 Abolfazl Razzaghpour 17-Sep-97 20  Paykan Ghaemshahr
6 Alireza Arta 04-Feb-97 21  Mes Kerman Kerman
7 Hossein Saki 10-May-97 22 Sanat Naft Dasht-e Azadegan
8 Mohammad Aghajanpour 20-Apr-97 21  Padideh Babol
9 Mohammad Moslemipour 25-May-97 21  Sepahan Tabriz
10 Omid Darreh 08-Aug-99 19 Saipa Alborz Tehran
11 Hamid Reza Taherkhani 26-Mar-99 19 Sapidrood Rasht Takestan
12 Mohammad Khodabandelou 07-Sep-99 18  Paykan Tehran
13 Mohammad Khorram Al Hosseini 07-Apr-97 21 Gostaresh Foolad Qazvin
14 Omid Noorafkan 09-Apr-97 21 Esteghlal Robat Karim
15 Reza Shekari 31-May-98 20 Rubin Kazan Tehran
16 Vahid Namdari 26-Jun-00 19 Esteghlal Khuzestan Ahvaz
17 Ali Shojaei 27-Jan-97 22 Nassaji Mazandaran Tehran
18 Amir Roostaei 05-Aug-97 21  Paykan Tehran
19 Mehdi Ghaedi 05-Dec-98 19  Esteghlal Bushehr
20 Mohammad Mehdi Mehdikhani 26-Jul-97 21  Padideh Gilangharb
21 Mohammad Reza Azadi 07-Dec-99 18  Tractor Sazi Tabriz
22 Reza Jabireh 07-Jul-97 21  Sanat Naft Abadan Abadan
23 Sina Zamehran 10-Mar-97 21  Padideh Mashad

Omid Team wins Qatar tournament title

Omid Team under the coaching of Zlatko Krancjar, defeated host Qatar 2 -1 in the final match of the round-ribbon invitational tournament in Doha.

Omid Team goals were scored by  Mehdi MehdiKhani in the 3rd minute and Allahyar Sayad-manesh (17th minute)

Earlier in the day , Kuwait defeated Tajikistan 1-0.  At the conclusion of the tournament , Iran’s Omid Team with two wins and six points and goal difference of 5 , won the title of this competition.

The tournament was part of Iran’s preparation for the upcoming qualifying rounds of the Tokyo summer Olympics 2020,  which will be played in Iran.

Omid Team scores 5 against Kuwait

Iran’s Omid Team (U23) defeated Kuwait 5-0  in the second match of the Round-Ribbon invitational tournament in Qatar. After losing to Tajikistan in the first match, the Iranian team bounced back with a vengeance against Kuwait and ended up scoring five goals without reply.

Kranjcar’s players took control of the game from the very first minutes of the match and managed to open the scoring as early as the 3rd minute through Alireza Arta’s shot. Iran continued to put pressure on the opponent’s goal throughout the match , while Kuwait was content with defending.

In the 40th minute, Sayyad-Manish scored  from a rebound after the Kuwait goalkeeper failed to hold on to the ball.  First half ended 2-0 with a decisive superiority by Omid Team.

In the second half, again, Iran continued the same with superior control and possession. The third goals was just a matter of time. Younis Delphi scored the third , five minutes after the start of the second half in the 50th minute on a clever ball stealing and accurate shot from an acute angle.

Hosseinzadeh scored the fourth in 54th minute with a precise shot to raise the pressure on the Kuwait team.

Omid Noorafkan was the fifth Iranian player on the score sheet, with a precise free kick in the 72nd minute. After the fifth goal, the humiliated Kuwaitis resorted to rough and aggressive play with some wild tackles flying. As a result , Iranian players retaliated in the absence of proper protection from the referee. In the aftermath of one such intense clashes, two players from each team were shown the red card. Amir Roustaei and Kuwait defender received their marching order in the 80th minute.

 In the 90th minute, Hamid Taherkhani was sent off as well , for Omid team to continue with 9 players , however the match ended with an emphatic 5-0 win for Iran’s Omid Team.

Qatar and Iran will play the final match on the 21st of January in Aspire Training field in Doha. Kuwait will meet Tajikistan in their last match.

Omid team draws against Jordan U-23

Iran’s Omid Team (U-23) played a friendly match against Jordan U-23 team today (Tuesday) at the Medina Al-Riaziya Stadium in Irbid City, Jordan. The match ended in a 1 – 1 draw.

The home team started offensively and in the seventh minute, the Jordanian player Hadi Al-Hurani managed to open the scoring for the host. Following this early goal, Zlatko Kranjcar players took control of the ball and the field  looking for a quick response and a change the result. Iran’s offensive midfielder Mehdi Qaedi was blatantly brought down by his opponents in the box , but Jordanian referee Omar al-Ma’ani did not believe in a penalty.

During the match, Mehdi Mahdi Khani and Vahid Namdari both hit the woodwork but none of those shots ended in a goal.  Eventually, Namdari the teams striker struck  in the 37″ minutes, wagering, and turned the ball from the corner sent into the box and headed the ball into the corner of the opponent scoring the equalizer.

In the second half, the  Omid team retained  its offensive game plan. In the 48th minute,  Namdari was in a one-to-one situation with the opponent’s goalkeeper,  and could have easily scored his and the team 2nd goal. The Jordanian goalkeeper gallantly held his position and foiled Namdari.

 The two teams’ efforts ultimately failed to score any further goals. Iran’s Omid team in their fourth game in preparation for the Olympics qualifiers ended in a stalemate.

Iran Omid Team Line up:

 Shahab Adeli, Omid Noroufkan, Aref Aghasi (Hossein Saki 46′), Mohammad Moslemipour, Alireza Artah (Omid Dareh 75′), Abolfazl Razzaghpour (Hamid Reza Taherkhani 75), Mohammad Khodabandehlo, Mehdi Mehdi Khani, Mehdi Ghaedi (Abolfazl Jalali 67′), Vahid Namdari (Younis Delphi 62) and Amir Roustahi (Mohammad Reza Azadi 65)

Before the match against Jordan, the Iranian team played 3 friendly matches  , once against Oman and twice against Syria,  in which Omid Team had won all three matches. The qualifying stage games for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be held in Iran the first half of April, 2009. The U-23 team will play in the third group against Iraq, Yemen and Turkmenistan.

Omid Team will face Syria in Kish.

The Manager of the Iran U23 national team, (Omid Team) , announced the forthcoming plan for the team which includes a training camp in which the team will play  two friendly matches against the Syrian national U23 team.

in an interview with Hamid Estili published in the official website of the Football Federation, Omid Team Manager said: “The new round of Iranian U23 National Football team training begins on Dec. 15th. A day later, the squad will fly to Kish Island to play two friendly preparations matches.”

The director of the Omid team also said: “According to the schedule , the first match will be held on 18th December in Kish, we will face Syria in the first game. Syria is a powerful opponent and can be a very useful game. On December 21st, we will hold the second game in Kish also against the same team (Syria), and then we will return back to Tehran to conclude the camp.”

Estili added: “It’s very important for us to hold preparation games to compete against the best opponents possible. The coaching & technical staff has emphasized this. Fortunately, we played a very good match against Oman, and the two scheduled matches against Syria should be very useful indeed. Also, luckily, we have had good results in negotiating with some other Asian teams for more matches. The result of these will be announced in dues time after agreeing terms. The ultimate goal is to be prepared for a tough competition by playing valuable matches with different teams to prepare for the preliminary qualifiers for the Asian U23 and the Olympics. We shall achieve our objectives, God willing, with the support of the Federation. To this day, it has been excellent, which I see as prudent to mention that publicly. We are encouraged by the interest and support given to the team’s program and the backing of all parties concerned from the federation executives to the clubs.”

Team Omid (Iran U23) , which is coached by the Croat coach Zlatko Kranjcar,  is preparing for the AFC Asian Championship qualifiers and the preliminary Olympics Games football competition qualifiers.