Yet another failure for Iran Javanan team. Iran U20 out of the competition.

Iran’s Javanan team (U20) lost to Iraq 1-0 in the quarter-final game of the AFC Asian U20 Cup 2023 in Uzbekistan. The team also lost the chance to qualify for the FIFA World Cup U20 to be held in Indonesia later this year.

In a scruffy match that had no resemblance to modern football but much more like street football, both teams pulled back and did not attempt to attack the opposition. The first half did not register a single shot on target by both teams.

The fear of conceding and losing dominated the mentality of both teams in the second half too, with the match suffering from this poor attitude. It was clear that both teams were content with playing out a goalless draw to try their luck in a penalty shootout. The lethargic match was dragging on and being an eye sore for the few fans in the stadium but was temporarily set alive in the 71st minute when Iraq’s keeper saved beautifully from a fine free-kick by Iran’s forward Hosseinzadeh. That was the first and only shot on target registered by the Iranians during the whole match.

In the dying minutes, a shambolic and totally embarrassing Iranian defense was easily penetrated by the Iraqi forward, Sajjad who shot hurriedly toward the goal, while three Iran defenders surrounded him. His shot was towards the far corner of Iran keeper Zarei who stood watching the ball roll past him into the net!! Serious failure of defense has been witnessed many times in this tournament.

It was all that Iraq needed and the sudden last-minute highly emotional Iranian awakening came to nothing as the Iraqis held firm and celebrated wildly after the referee’s whistle for qualifying for the finals of the FIFA U20 World Cup.

The less said about the match, the better as it was only an ugly, amateurish performance by both teams which was a bad advert for Asian youth football.

Despite all the handicaps that the Iranian team had way before the tournament started, Samad Marfavi is guilty of a lack of courage and tactical enterprise. Technically speaking, there was very little expected from Marfavi, a modest also-ran coach whose achievements in his coaching career come to zero. However, he could have for at least one important game, changed the mentality of his team, and encouraged them to be winners. His lack of courage, his ineffective coaching, his failure to identify gaps in the team, and his lack of influence were all factors in this defeat. Yes, without a doubt, a more qualified and competent coach would have made a change in this team that is no short of individual skills.

 Not that Iraq is any better than Iran nor is it a formidable team, however, they were better coached and managed defensively under their head coach Emad Mohammad knowing, a man who is very well familiar with Iranian football and its weaknesses.  The ex-Sepahan Esfahan player was victorious despite the lackluster performance in this match and that is what counts.

After 47 years of failures, Iran Javan has to wait another two years for another shot for the title. Frankly, under such a federation management, a group of modest below-par domestic coaches, and a lack of international exposure, it will be hardly unlikely that Iran U20 will do anything better soon.

No doubt, Samad Marfavi, will have a bag full of excuses and justifications while cursing that good old luck, however, he is better off practicing his trade at the lower-division teams in Iran. Unfortunately, after many years in coaching, he has yet to taste success.