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Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Six - 13 March 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Six - 13 March 2023 - Page 5

Iran appoints Amir Ghalenoei as Team Melli head coach

Kick-and-rush era is back!

Saeed Azimi
Staff writer

In a move that is considered going 16-years back, Iran’s football federation appointed Amir Ghalenoei, a veteran Iranian coach in his 60s as Team Melli’s head coach.
Following Carlos Queiroz’s departure from the Iranian national football team, Mehdi Taj, Head of Iran’s Football Federation (FFIRI) had promised Team Melli fans that the new head coach will be appointed by March 12. He lived up to his promise, but his choice has sparked outrage among diehard Team Melli aficionados.
Known for his tactical backwardness and his stylish kick-and-rush tactic – a style of play mainly based on long balls, with little tactical maneuvers –, Ghalenoei has failed to gain any domestic championship titles since 2013, let alone any regional or international title. His appointment as Team Melli’s top coach, therefore, came as a shock to many and has concerned fans ahead of the AFC Asian Cup 2023.
While some call Ghalenoei an “architect” of Iranian football players, the labeling is simply not true. His recipe for success is the same. The players he employs have common characteristics: a strong sense of loyalty to him, familiarity with kick-and-rush tactic, and an aptitude for time wasting when his teams are ahead.
We don’t expect much from Ghalenoei, but Taj is solely responsible for his choice of Team Melli head coach. Taj has repeatedly blamed the sanctions against Iran as an obstacle to appointing big international names. Yet, this time, he played a dirty game with the minds of Team Melli fans. He first leaked big names such as Vincenzo Montella, former AC Milan and AS Roma head coach, Andrea Stramaccioni, former Inter Milan head coach, and Felix Sanchez, former Qatari head coach. Yet, hiring a big name for Team Melli was not Taj’s plan after all. He had always intended to hire a domestic coach, and what he did was simply playing with the feelings of the Iranians.
Media reports say that Ghalenoei has asked for a foreign trainer, goalkeeping coach, and a fitness coach, as well as two Iranian assistants. This doesn’t change the fact that he is a stubborn man and is incapable of any change. His club in Iran’s Premier League (IPL), Gol Gohar Sirjan F.C. is now standing at the fifth rank, despite the exorbitant amount of money he spent on signing big names.
I cannot predict a bright future for the Iranian football team, not with this choice.

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