Tag Archives: soccer

Photo gallery: Fans in Iran celebrate the 2018 FIFA World Cup

During the world cup many Iranians watched the matches in cafés, restaurants, shops or public screenings. After each match people flooded the streets to celebrate and show their support for the team; Iran achieved their best performance at a world cup. They finished third in their group with four points and overall in 18th place out of 32 squads.*

An own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz (90+5′) allowed Iran to win their first match 1:0 against Morocco. Spain won the second match 1:0 (Diego Costa 54′) but the Europeans struggled to create chances against a very disciplined Iran that defended brilliantly, showed plenty of tactical cohesion and looked dangerous going forward. Saeid Ezatolahi had a goal disallowed for offside.

The third match against Portugal ended in a draw 1:1 (Quaresma 45′; penalty Karim Ansarifard 90+3′). Morteza Pouraliganji rose up to the challenge and kept Cristiano Ronaldo in check. In the second half, Ali Beiranvand managed to save Ronaldo’s penalty kick. Seconds before the final whistle, Iran went all out for the winner and a desperate Saman Ghoddos effort was deflected onto the path of Mehdi Taremi who found himself one-on-one with Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio. Taremi hit the wrong side of the netting, consigning his side to finishing third in their group. Iran needed all three points to advance to the knock-out stage.

In The Guardian, Paul Doyle rated Ali Beiravand’s overall performance with an 8 and chose the Iranian goalkeeper in his best eleven of the group stage.

*Note: In 1978, Iran finished in 14th place out of 16 participants on their first World Cup appearance.

Sources: Borna News Agency, Fars News Agency (FNA) 1, FNA 2, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, IRNA 3, IRNA 4, IRNA 5, IRNA 6, IRNA 7, ISNA 1, ISNA 2, ISNA 3, ISNA 4, ISNA 5, ISNA 6, Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, MNA 3, MNA 4, MNA 5, MNA 6, MNA 7, MNA 8, MNA 9, Tasnim News Agency (TNA) 1, TNA 2, Tehran Picture Agency (TPA) 1, TPA 2, TPA 3, Young Journalists Club (YJC) 1, YJC 2, YJC 3, YJC 4, YJC 5, YJC 6, YJC 7, AFC, The Guardian (TG) 1, TG 2, Wikipedia 1, Wikipedia 2, Wikipedia 3

FIFA World Cup 2018: Iran’s team and fans in Russia (Photos)

Reza Ghoochannejhad – The violinist who understands seven languages
Reza scored the only Iranian goal in the World Cup 2014. Besides football, the forward is known for his skills with the violin and for languages; he speaks English, Dutch, Persian and French. Additionally he has a good understanding of German, Italian and Portuguese.

He played in the youth national team of the Netherlands and, at the age of 21, he wanted to leave football to study law. He was convinced by Marc Overmars, the winger that played in Barcelona, to stick to football. He wants to finish his studies when he retires from football. “The people who know me know that there is something more than football for me”. His sister-in-law is Sareh Bayat, a famous Iranian actress who participated in the 2012 Oscar-winning film “Nader and Simín, a separation”. After Iran’s win against Morocco with an own goal by Bouhaddouz, he took a moment to console his opponent on Instagram:

“I don’t know you personally but in life, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Don’t let this own goal bring you down. We are all professional sportsmen and this is a part of football. I am so happy and proud of my team and my country, but wanted to wish you also all the best in your career. Reza”.

Sardar Azmoun – The Iranian “Messi”
Sardar, 23 years old, is compared to the crack of Barça due to his ability. A comparison that, however, the striker of Rubin Kazan rejects immediately. “I do not know why they say I’m the new Messi, my game has nothing to do, maybe it’s because we use the same boots,” he says. Azmoun was born in Gonbad-e Kavus to a family of Turkmen origin from Iran’s Sunni minority. He started his career in Sepahan FC (Isfahan, Iran).

As top scorer in the league and for the national team he is the favorite of the masses beloved by the fans and his team members. He is addicted to social networks. When he was younger, he was summoned by the Iranian sub-15 volleyball team due to his height (1.86 meters) and the conditions inherited from his father, a former player. He is also passionate about horses.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh – The child that fell in love with football at the world cup
Alireza Jahanbakhsh is Iran’s biggest threat in attack. The winger of AZ Alkmaar is 2017-18 Eredivise’s top scorer. He scored 21 goals and also distributed 12 assists! “It’s not bad to play as a winger” he says. Neither for a child who, until 12, preferred gymnastics, handball and indoor football over football. Jahanbakhsh, who got hooked on football watching the 1998 World Cup, grew up admiring Iranian winger Mahdavikia, but now he adores Cristiano Ronaldo: “He’s my role model, I always try to learn from him.” His determination and work are exemplary. He is simply the best in the world.”

Milad Mohammadi – The twin nicknamed Road Runner
Milad Mohammadi is a fullback/left winger that plays for Akhmat Grozny in Chechnya. He has a twin brother, Mehrdad, who plays for Sepahan FC. Fans nicknamed Milad “Mig-Mig”, as in the cartoon The Coyote and the Road Runner, due to his speed.

Saeid Ezatolahi – The Persian Pogba with a short stop in Atlético
21-year-old central midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi is the youngest member of the squad in Russia. He wrote Iranian football history as the youngest player to score with the national team.
Son of a trainer, he was nicknamed the Persian Pogba and at the end of the summer of 2014, with 17, he signed for Atlético de Madrid for four years. He played in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Youth League.
“He was a very polite and respectful player. Always wondering about all the tactical aspects to learn as much as possible. He even asked to stay longer to do specific workouts sometimes”, recalls Armando de la Morena, the coach he had in Spain. During the April 2015 transfer window Ezatolahi trained with Cholo Simeone at Cerro del Espino. In July 2015 he transferred to Russia’s Rostov.

Masoud – Or how to overcome four serious injuries
Masoud Shojaei is best known in Spain because he played for Osasuna and Las Palmas. In Pamplona he learned, what it meant to play under pressure in football’s top competitions, with all eyes right on top of him. He had four surgeries after a broken metatarsal during the 2011-2012 season. It took him 16 months to recover, six of them on crutches. After having problems with the regime, he is now back as captain of the Iran squad.

Ghoddos – The Iranian, who came out of the cold of… Sweden
Saman Ghoddos (24 years old) was born in Malmö, Sweden and he received his Iranian nationality last year. He neither knew until then the majority of those who are now his teammates. The match against Spain was his tenth game defending Iran. The midfielder/forward is the son of Iranian immigrants, who never forgot their roots – celebrating Nowruz and Chahar Shanbeh Suri in Sweden. He played two friendlies with the Swedish national team, scoring once.
Ghoddos plays in Östersunds FC. Arsenal’s coach Arsene Wenger praised him after a Europa League match: “Technically and tactically, I was impressed by him”. Ghoddos club did not want to sell him this winter to Celta de Vigo.

Dejagah – Boateng’s friend and owner of a restaurant
Ashkan Dejagah, midfielder of Nottingham Forest since January, sees Kevin Prince Boateng as his brother. The German-born Ghanaian midfielder wished him luck on Instagram in the first game. In January he opened a sushi restaurant in Berlin. He represented Germany at youth levels, where he met Neuer, Höwedes, Khedira, Özil … before playing in Wolfsburg and Fulham. He has Berlin and Tehran tattooed on each of his arms along with the legend “Never forget where you come from”.

Morteza Pouraliganji – Teammate of Xavi Hernández in Al Saad
Morteza Pouraliganji is, with only 26 years, the head of Iran’s defense. He plays in Al Saad of Qatar, Xavi’s team, where he arrived two years ago despite the offers he had from Europe and China. The Spanish midfielder was the great idol of his youth.

Alireza Beiranvand – From sleeping rough to the World Cup with Iran
Alireza Beiranvand was a shepherd in the mountainous region of Lorestan, in the northwest of the country. “My father didn’t like football at all and asked me to work,” Alireza told the Guardian. “He even tore my clothes and gloves and I played with bare hands several times.” He used all his money for a trip to Tehran, where he slept in the in the streets at the beginning. He had several jobs to supplement his income, including working at a car wash where, at 1,93m (6ft 4in) tall, he specialised in cleaning SUVs. He also worked in a dressmaking factory and a pizza shop before making his breakthrough in football. The 25-year-old plays now for Tehran-based club Persepolis.

Playing as a kid “Dal Paran”, a game that involves throwing stones long distances, enabled him to throw the ball much further than many other goalkeepers. His 70-meter assist in the Iranian football league caught the eyes of foreign media and made him famous abroad in 2014. In 2015 Alireza finally became Iran’s first-choice goalkeeper and, with 12 clean sheets in qualifying, he helped Team Melli, as Iran’s team is called at home, cruise to Russia 2018. “I suffered many difficulties to make my dreams come true but I have no intention of forgetting them because they made me the person I am now,” he said.

Carlos Queiroz – Iran’s Portuguese coach
Carlos Queiroz, former trainer at Real Madrid and assistant trainer at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, […] had worked wonders to get Iran to Brazil. Iran was Asia’s seventh-ranked team when he took over in 2011 and 54th in the world. Within three years Iran was the first ranked team in Asia. For Russia 2018, Iran didn’t lose a single one of their ten games in qualifying and conceded only twice. Sanctions have bit hard:

“We struggle to travel, to have training camps, to bring opponents, to buy equipment. Even buying shirts is a challenge, but these challenges helped me fall in love with Iran. These difficulties become a source of inspiration to the people, it makes them more united, to fight for their country. These boys deserve a smile from the rest of the world.”

Sanctions also meant Nike pulled out of their deal to supply the Iran team with boots one week ahead of the World Cup, forcing players to play with unfamiliar equipment.

“My message for international football is very simple: let us play. Our players deserve that opportunity. Don’t let sanctions create this stigma. Don’t let this go against the spirit of the game. We have football players who love the game”.

“[…] I’ve never, in all my career, seen players deliver so much after receiving so little as I have with these Iran Boys“.

“Tell me one national team which goes to the World Cup without enough friendly games [Greece recently cancelled a friendly, Kosovo then also declined to step in], or by using a 60-metre training pitch?”

Queiroz didn’t expect to be in charge of Iran for seven years. “Football has given me the privilege to go to many places in the world, to see the United States, Japan, Africa or Europe,” he says. “And people ask me about Iran because they’re curious. I tell them that I see exactly the same as in any other country I’ve been to – people who laugh and cry, who dance, who sing. You see mums carrying their kids to school in the morning. You see people complaining about the traffic. Football teaches you how much human beings have in common that have nothing to do with any politics or regimes.”

Football is huge in Iran – the national team regularly drew sell-out crowds of 78,000 in qualifying. “Iran is a football country,” says Queiroz. “Football is in the DNA of the people. Iran is not a fake football country, one which needs to create or imagine fantasy solutions to promote the game. But our players need support and the politics should be left out of the game.” And his young players in Russia? “They have a right to enjoy Russia, to have fun,” he says. “They’ve earned it.”

List of players called up for the 2018 FIFA World Cup (jersey number in parentheses):
Goalkeepers: Ali Beiravand (1), Rashid Mazaheri (12), Amir Abedzadeh (22)
Defenders: Ehsan Hajsafi (3), Rouzbeh Cheshmi (4), Milad Mohammadi (5), Morteza Pouraliganji (8), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (13), Pejman Montazeri (15), Majid Hosseini (19), Ramin Rezaeian (23)
Midfielders: Mehdi Torabi (2), Saeid Ezatolahi (6), Masoud Shojaei (7), Omid Ebrahimi (9), Vahid Amiri (11)
Forwards: Karim Ansarifard (10), Saman Ghoddos (14), Reza Ghoochannejhad (16), Mehdi Taremi (17), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (18), Sardar Azmoun (20), Ashkan Dejagah (21)
Head coach: Carlos Queiroz

Sources: MARCA (Original article with contributions by Iranian sports journalist Alireza Moharami. This source was loose translated from Spanish to English), The Guardian, BBC, GQ Magazine, ESPN, FIFA, GOAL, ISNA 1, ISNA 2, ISNA 3, ISNA 4, MEHR, Zimbio, instagram @alirezajb_official, instagram @miladmohammadi.official, instagram @saman.ghoddos, instagram @sardar_azmoun, instagram @rgucci16, instagram @teammellifootball, twitter @FIFAWorldCupIRN

Andranik Teymourian – first Christian to lead Iran’s football team as its permanent captain

The 32-year-old midfielder, known as Ando – or Samurai, due to his hairstyle – is not shy of showing his Christianity, often crossing himself on the field. In April 2015, Teymourian, who has played for Bolton Wanderers and Fulham, became the first Christian to lead Iran’s football team as its permanent captain. His first appearance as captain of the national team was however on 18 May 2014, when Teymourian captained Iran in the match against Belarus. In the same year he was named “Iranian footballer of the year”.

“I’m happy that as a Christian I play in a Muslim team,” he said in a recent interview. “I have Armenian roots but I hold the Iranian passport and I’m proud of that, I hold my flag high. I hope I can enhance the good reputation of Armenian people in Iran.”

Iran's midfielder Andranik Teymourian gestures during the friendly football match Iran vs Belarus in preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2014 on May 18, 2014 in Kapfenberg, Austria. AFP PHOTO / SAMUEL KUBANI (Photo credit should read SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Ethnic Armenians make up the majority of Iran’s estimated 300,000 Christians. Armenians are fully integrated in Iranian society, from the musician Loris Tjeknavorian to Sombat Hacoupian, who founded one of the country’s most famous men’s clothing brands and is now a household name.

Although Islam is Iran’s official religion, it recognises Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians as accepted religious minorities. They are permitted their house of worship and usual religious services, and have reserved seats in the Iranian parliament. In a country where alcohol and pigmeat are forbidden, Christians are allowed to distil booze and eat pork.

There are at least 600 churches in Iran, including the sixth-century St Mary Church of Tabriz, mentioned by Marco Polo in his travel book. The adjacent province of West Azerbaijan boasts the ancient St Thaddeus Monastery, a Unesco world heritage site.

All minorities related posts on this blog: The other Iran | Minorities (with lots of interesting photos)

Read more: The Guardian , wikipedia | Andranik Teymourian

Iran wins Friendly against Chile 2:0

Copa America hosts Chile (World Ranking: 42) saw their preparations for the competition hit a bump on Thursday as they were beaten 2-0 by Iran (World Ranking: 15) at St Polten’s NV Arena in Austria.

Sources: FIFA | Chile, FIFA | Iran, Goal.com | Game Stats, Goal.com | Game Report

Photo gallery: Iranian football fans at the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia

The 2015 Asian Cup started on January 9th and ends on January 31st. Iran reached the quarterfinals but lost to Iraq on penalties in a nerve-wrecking match.

As a goodbye to this year’s Asian Cup a compilation of photos of Iranian fans:

Sources: mostafagraphy.tumblr.com, Iran beat Bahrain in 2015 Asian Cup opener – in pictures, Asian Cup – The fans of Iran, Bing Image Search

Vahid Shamsaei: Futsal’s top international goalscorer of all time

Vahid Shamsaei (born 21 September 1975 in Tehran, Iran) is an Iranian futsal player who is futsal’s top international goalscorer of all time. […] He is the leading goalscorer for the national team, the seven time Top Goalscorer of the Asian Futsal Championship.

On May 19, 2007 after scoring 1 goal against Japan in Iran’s 4–1 victory in the final of the 2007 AFC Futsal Championship, he scored his 316th national goal. He was officially the world’s Top Futsal Goalscorer with 14 goals ahead of Manoel Tobias of Brazil national futsal team, the previous holder of the title with 302 goals (as of May 19, 2007). […]

HONOURS

Country
* AFC Futsal Championship:
– Champion (8 times) in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008
– Third place (twice) in 2006 and 2012
* Asian Indoor Games: Champion in 2005
* Confederations Futsal Cup: Champion in 2009
* WAFF Futsal Championship: Champion in 2012

Club
* AFC Futsal Club Championship: Champion (twice) in 2010 with Foolad Mahan and in 2015 with Tasisat Daryaei

Individual
* Best player
– AFC Futsal Player of the Year (3 times) in 2007, 2008 and 2015
– MVP AFC Futsal Championship (5 times) in 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2008
– MVP AFC Futsal Club Championship (twice) in 2010 and 2015
– MVP Futsal Confederations Cup in 2009
Iran Football Federation Awards:
– International Special Award (2007–08) shared with Ali Daei
– Best futsal player of Iran (2007–08)

* Top Goalscorer
– World’s Top Futsal Goalscorer of All Time (with 390 goals)
– AFC Futsal Championship Top Goalscorer of All Time (with 183 goals)
– AFC Futsal Championship (8 times) in 2001 (with 31 goals), 2002 (26), 2003 (24), 2004 (33),  2005 (23), 2006 (16), 2008 (13) and in 2012 (with 7 goals and 6 assists)
– Asian Indoor Games  2005 (31)
– AFC Futsal Club Championship (twice) in 2010 (17) and in 2015 (10)
– WAFF Futsal Championship in 2012 (8 goals)

Ref: wikipedia.org

Ararat Armenian Sports Club and it’s stars

The Vanak neighborhood of central Tehran is home to a high concentration of Armenians; half of the approximately 80,000 Armenians in Iran live in Tehran, and most of those Tehrani Armenians live within Vanak and its orbit. […]

The Ararat Armenian Sports Club predates the Revolution and predates Reza Shah Pahlavi. […] The Sports Club is home to FC Ararat Tehran, a borderline-defunct soccer club that produced two heroes of Iranians, Armenians, and of course Armenian-Iranians. Andranik Eskandarian played for two years at Ararat before moving onto Taj (now Esteghlal due to yet another Revolution-necessitated makeover) as a stalwart defender. His national teams won the 1968, ‘72, and ‘76 and went to the country’s first World Cup in 1978. Andranik would later move to the United States to play for a legendary New York Cosmos side. A generation later, Andranik Teymourian would play youth ball for Ararat before moving on to Bolton in the English Premier League.

Teymourian collapes after Iran’s game against AngolaOne of the most iconic images from the 2006 World Cup

Someone like Teymourian can be a hero for Iranians of all religions without a hint of conflict.

The situation of Armenians (and other Christians) in Iran is of course far more normal than prevailing Western discourse may have an outside observer understand. Armenians have different treatment from most Iranians, with special privileges to consume pork, alcohol, and having Sundays off work that Muslims do not enjoy. But they are still effusively Iranian. Surp Khatch, for example, was built in part to memorialize the thousands of Armenian service members killed in the Iran-Iraq War. When Teymourian crosses himself before a match, his countrymen cheer this act as the mark of a pious Iranian. […]

Unfortunately, these days Ararat FC is far from its glory days. The team last competed in Iran’s top league in the 1995-1996 season.

Source: Ajam Media Collective (ajammc.com)