Sports > Football > IRAN DREW WITH BELARUS IN DISAPPOINTING MATCH BY AFSHIN DASTAFSHAN
Iran played a warm-up match against Belarus at
Azadi stadium on February 7th.
Belarus are ranked 70th
in the world (Iran are 37th)
and currently stand fourth in their Euro 2008
qualifying table having beaten Slovenia, drawn with
Albania and lost to Romania and Holland,
Belarus have never qualified for the European Championship and
are unlikely to qualify for Euro 2008 finals.
were missing some of their first team players.
Iran started the match well and took the lead six minutes into the first half thanks to a Khatibi scissors kick in Belarus’s penalty area but they failed to capitalise on their early lead. Belarus made six substitutions in the second half and took control of the game scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead. The ease at which Belarus cut through Iran’s defence to score is a major worry, Iran are only five months away from Asian Cup finals but the team shows no consistency or chemistry. Iran head coach Amir Ghalenoei is yet to demonstrate what his game plans are, he has failed to respond to change of tactics by Iran’s opponents during the match particularly at half time, Iran had the upper hand in the first half in this match but Belarus head coach Yuri Puntus managed to turn things around in the second half and outmanoeuvred Ghalenoei, only a late Rajabzadeh goal 3 minutes from time salvaged Iran a draw at home.
There were only 15,000 fans at Tehran’s 100,000 capacity stadium to watch this match; it was amusing to hear those who had turned up to see this match chanting for Ghalenoei rather than for Iran! This has been the pattern since Ghalenoei took helm at Team Melli in July 2006, Ghalenoei the former head coach of Esteghlal FC continues to be heavily involved in the running of Esteghlal including attending their training sessions (one wonders where his priorities are!), inevitably Esteghlal fans tend to support Ghalenoei during Team Melli matches, however, there seems to be more to the campaign of cheering for Ghalenoei than just his Esteghlal links. Ghalenoei is part of the corrupt and incompetent football federation in Iran and was selected by the system more so because his face fitted the system than anything else. The motive of those chanting Ghalenoei during Iran’s matches is questionable since Ghalenoei has been a failure with Team Melli playing like a second rate Asian team; it will only take a number of insiders amongst fans to encourage others to chant Ghalenoei, I have attended Iran’s matches on numerous occasions in Iran and abroad, chanting for the coach has never crossed my mind no matter who the coach, I was always there to support Iran (the team and country) not the coach.