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Iran Wins its 4th Gold in Soccer at 14th Asian Games
Iran won Gold medal in 14th Asian Games Soccer final
This is Iran's 4th Gold in Asian Games Soccer (1974, 1990, 1998, 2002)
Iran wins the 14th Asian Games Soccer in 2002 - a 4 time winner now Click on the above image for more info on 2002 Asian Games

History of Asian Games
2002 Asian Games Medal Count
Iran is running for 2007 Asian Winter Games

Iran Beat Chile in Penalty Shoot-Out
From: Persian Gulf Soccer The Iranian National team met the Chilean National team in Hong Kong's Government Stadium
for the Third place match of the Carlsberg Cup.  While Chile was missing two of its star players, Iran
played without four of its main players, which included Ali Daei, Karim Bagheri, Khodadad Azizi and
Reza Shahroudi.   The Chilean team went into this game after a disastrous 3-1 loss to Hong Kong
on January 28th.

Chile opened up the score board after Manuel Neira scored in the seventh minute of the game.
In minute 23 Mohammad Khakpour, who was ill and did not play against Nigeria,
gave a 40 yard pass to Mehdi Mahdavi Kia deep in the Chilean defense. Mahadvi Kia's speed
allowed him to take advantage of this pass and put the ball into the Chilean goal.
Iran had equalized.

Afshin Payrovanni, who many believe was the central weakness of the defensive line,
was replaced by Mohammad Khakpour in this game. Half time score was 1-1.

The second half did not produce any goals from either side.
Dean Mohammadi replaced Ali Reza Mansourian in mid field.  Ali Reza Mansourian
was involved in a dispute and fist fight with teammate Hamid Esteeli.  Iran's coach, Tomislav
Ivich decided to bench Mansourian in this game. It is unclear whether Mansourian will
secure his position in mid field for World Cup.

The sides, both warming up for the World Cup finals later this year, were all square at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
The game was then decided by a penalty shoot out. Iran's team captain and experienced goal keeper,
Ahmad Abedzadeh, saved penalty shots from Jose Luis Sierra and Rafael Olarra allowing Iran
a two goal lead.  Mehdi Pashazadeh was the only Iranian player to miss the penalty kick.
Abedzadeh shot Iran's final penalty shot and gave Iran a victory that had long been awaited for.
Iran had not won in 7 consecutive games. Iran had defeated Chile 4-2 in penalty shoot out.

The victory secured Iran third place in the four nation Lunar New Year tournament here.
A Hong Kong league XI and Nigeria played for First place. Nigeria beat Hong Kong 2-0 to win
the Carlsberg Cup.

U.S. Wrestlers to Compete in Iran
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- Five U.S. wrestlers will compete in an international meet in Tehran next month, the first time American athletes have been in Iran in almost two decades.

The trip to the Takhti Cup Feb. 19-21 was approved Monday night by the executive board of USA Wrestling.

Federation president Larry Sciacchentano said board members expressed ``some reasonable concerns'' about sending the five wrestlers and five coaches and administrators to a nation that has not had diplomatic relations with the United States since 1979.

But those concerns were outweighed by the chance to compete against some of the world's best wrestlers in a nation where the sport rivals soccer in popularity.

``On the whole, we are very excited about the opportunity to compete in Iran, one of the strongest wrestling nations in the world,'' Sciacchetano said. ``We know Iranian wrestling fans are knowledgeable, and we look forward to competing there.''

The team, led by 1993 world champion Melvin Douglas and 1992 Olympic gold medalist Kevin Jackson, is tentatively scheduled to tour Iran Feb. 14-22.

That will be the first visit by U.S. athletes since the Islamic revolution overthrew the regime of the late Shah of Iran and installed a fundamentalist Muslim government.

In recent weeks, there have been signs of a thaw in relations, with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami saying in a television interview he would welcome cultural exchanges between the two countries.

When word of a possible wrestling tour spread last week, some wondered if this might be an event similar to the ``Ping-Pong diplomacy'' of the early 1970s, which helped open relations between the United States and China.

Sciacchentano, who will make the trip, said at the time that any U.S. entries would compete as ``pure sportsmen,'' although he anticipated some ``positive feedback,'' and he repeated those stands in confirming the trip Tuesday.

``Our objective is to bring back some gold medals. If there is a cultural benefit from the trip, that's positive,'' he said. ``But we are going to compete; that is our main objective.''

Other members of the U.S. team will include wrestlers Zeke Jones, Shawn Charles and John Giura; coach Joe Seay; and USA Wrestling officials Mitch Hull, Jim McCord and Dr. Bruce Reider.

Abrar Varzeshi: Iran Needs a New Defense!

The Iranian National team managed to qualify to World Cup despite numerous obstacles in its
path.  Poor coaching and mismanagement in Iranian Football Federation did not stop Iran's
determined team from achieving its goal: qualify to France '98 World Cup.

Since their qualification, numerous soccer analysts in Iran have been voiving their concerns
over Iran's weak defense.  Although Iran scored more goals than any other team in its qualification
group, it did concede numerous goals.  Infact, had it not have been for Iran's experienced goal keeper,
Ahmad Abedzadeh,  Iran would have conceded almost twice the number of goals it conceded.
Overall Iran conceded 14 goals in its qualification games and scored 18.  In Iran's last four games,
it conceded average of two goals per game.  While Iran's goal margin was significant in first leg
of qualification, it was significantly decreased after Iran's final second leg game against Qatar.
Indeed this is cause for concern for coaches of Iran's National team considering Iran will
be playing powerful offensive teams (Germany and Yugoslavia) in World Cup '98.
The oppertunities that Iran gave away to its Asian opponents in the qualifications can not
be repeated against Germany and Yugoslavia.  While Iran scored in most difficult of situations,
it conceded goals in easiest of situations.  In almost all of Iran's games the defense was
almost invisible.  Often the mid field was forced to stay back and defend Abedzadeh's
goal.  In some instances Iran's 4-4-2 formation looked more like a  8-0-2 formation (if there even
is such formation), whereby eight players stood in defense leaving only two players (Azizi and
Daei) alone in front.

Iran's popular sports newspaper Abrar Varzeshi, has written extensively on Iran's poor
defense in recent issues.  In its December 9, 1997  issue it called for an overall change in Iran's
defense line and for Iran's future coaches to find a solution to the problems that remain in
this part of Iranian team.  Below is a translation of the article from Abrar Varzeshi from its
1149 edition.  The title of the article is " We have to rebuild Iran's Defense from New".

Iranian goal keeper and captain, Ahmad Abedzadeh, is considered the most important
element  that enabled Iran to regain its confidense against Australia in its final game.
He has been named Iran's best man on the field and rightfully so.  He showed us
against Japan that even in injury and pain he was willing to play for his team.

Nevertheless he has been scored on an average of two goals per game.  How can it
be that he is a skilled keeper but is scored on so much? There is no mystery that Iran's
defense is central weakness of Iranian National team.

Following Iran's game against China in Tehran, it failed to win in 6 consecutive games.
Furthermore, Iran got only 3 points from total of 18 points in its final six games
(win=3, draw=1, loss=0).   That means Iran got only 1/6 of the total points possible.
Can a team that has achieved only one-sixth of the total points against Asian teams
effectively compete against European teams in World Cup? It was Iran's superior
offense that saved Iran from elimination.

We must not lose sight of problems that remain in Iran's National Team now that we have
qualified. The spectatcular goals that were scored by Ali Daei and Khodadad
Azizi should not blind us from the problems in Iran's defense.  Pashazadeh did well
to stop the Australians in Melbourne while the other defenders were more like spectators
rather than participants.

Our opponents in France are not going to lose the numerous oppertunities that Japan and
Australia missed due to their lack of experience.  Unless we seriously fix Iran's defense we
will be severely defeated in World Cup.  The offensive strength of our opponents in World Cup
will not give our defense any moment to set back and relax.

If we look at the second level teams in Europe, we see that before they worry about scoring
a goal they insure that they don't concede any goals.  Indeed, defense is the most important
part of the team for without a strong defense a team will not succeed, no matter how strong their offense.
Iran strength is in offense, but we can not rely on offense to win a game.  The defense has an important
role in the success of the team since the team with more goals wins.  This means that a team must not
only score, but effectively defend.

There is no doubt that the Iranian team  needs a completely new defense. We might be able
to fend off any challenges to our goal by having a strong offense when playing against Asian teams,
but we can not play against Germany, Yugoslavia and even USA depending on the offense to do everything.
A defense that in every game against Asian opponents gives away average of 5 easy chances to score can not
withstand the highly skilled and powerful strikers of Europe's best teams.  Germany's million dollar
players will find it extremely easy to score on our fragile defense.

Our coaches must educate our players on the latest defensive strategies.  The defenders must
play with one another, not on sole effort. There must be some organised planning in Iran defense.
In Azadegan League we have very skilled defenders and we must not hesitate in picking
a few players to replace the current defense.

For World Cup we need to put together the best 11 players we have.  In World Cup,  there
is no requirement to use the same players that played in qualifications.  We must put new players
in Iran's defense.  The gentlemen who decided with "blink of an eye" that Mayeli Kohan must
be replaced should not find it too difficult to replace a problematic defense.

As the author of this article stated, there still remains significant problems in Iran's defensive line.
Indeed we have not seen any improvement in Iran's defense throughout the qualifications.
Since Iran is no longer in competition and still has six months to its first World Cup match,
it has time to fix any problems that remain in the team.  The current defense is no capable
of withstanding the offensive strength of Germany and Yugoslavia.  As the author mentioned,
the defense  is also questionable infront of USA.

A weak defense no doubt will plague the whole team.  In the qualification games the mid field
was forced to assist the defense since they were unorganised and incapable of carrying out
their goals effectively.  There is little organisation in Iran's defense and it seems that they
play according to the moment, rather than following some sort of plan.  When the mid field
is not where it should be the offense is choked.  Against Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan and
Australia we saw how Ali Daei and Khodadad Azizi had to create their own chances.
The mid field, which supports the offense, was too busy defending the goal.

Unfortunately the list that was recently issued by Iranian Football Federation
does not include any new defenders. The veteran defenders that were not used
in previous games are being recycled for Iran's upcoming games in Carlsberg Cup.
It remains to be seen if Iran's new Croatian coach, Tomislav Ivich, will make any
changes in Iran's defense.

Tomislav Ivich Will Guide Iran in World Cup
January 15. 1998

According to Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Tomislav Ivich has been officially
announced by Iranian Football Federation as head coach of Iranian National Team.

Ivich, who is native of Croatia, has been named by FIFA as one of World's top coaches.
Ivich coached Croatia from 1994-1996.  For the European Cup '96 qualifying,
Croatia managed to defeat favorites Italy 2-1 in Palermo .
With talented players like Suker, Croatia turned heads in that
championship.  Following Euro '96, Ivich was replaced by Miroslav Blazevic, who had
been in prison for corruption.  According to Yugoslavian media, Ivich was more qualified
than Blazevic but lost the job due to political reasons.

Ivich also coached the United Arab Emirates national team in Asian Cup '96.
From a team that had been on the sidelines of Asian soccer, UAE managed to
clinche second place after losing to Saudi Arabia in penalty kicks.
Since then the 63 year old has been serving as vice-president of Hajduk Split, the club
with which he achieved his first major successes in the 1970s.

Ivich has also coached European clubs, incuding Anderlecht, Porto,
Ajax Amsterdam, Atletico Madrid, Paris St Germain and Olympique Marseille.
His extensive knowledge of both German soccer and Yugoslavian soccer could be
useful to the Iranian side in World Cup '98, which will start in June.

Ivich's contract is only up to and including the World Cup. There is no
statement from IFF or Ivich whether it will be extended beyond the World Cup.

Following the official announcement of Ivich's position as head coach, Ivich announced
that he will be starting training this Sunday with National team players.
Ivich also stated that he will be bringing in additional assistants from Croatia to
work with him.  According to the arrangements between Ivich and IFF,
Valdir Vierra's previous assistant coaches Ebrahim Qasempour, Dr. Zolfagharnasab
and Salehniya [fitness trainer] would continue their work with National team.
Meanwhile IFF is negotiating with Valdir Vierra for Iran's Olympic team (Team Omid).
No word as to the results of the negotiations.

Valdeir Vieira Begins Training Iranian Team

The new Brazilian coach of the Iranian National Team met the players on Monday and started training the team.
According to Hamshahri Newspaper, all players, except for Javad Zareencheh and Mansourian.
Ali Daei and Afshin Payrovanni were present in the meeting.  During the meeting the players casually talkwed with
their new coach about the state of the National Team.  Mr. Vieira talked to them about the weaknesses
of the team and ways that they can work to improve the team.  Mr. Vieira reminded the players that
they had a great responsibility at hand , and that they were representing 60 million people.  He reminded the
players that soccer in Iran is highly respected game and that the players must do their outmust to
succeed in their quest to reach the World Cup in France.  He also told the players that they had to
work with him to improve the team.  According to Vieira, it was a "two way street", in that both
the players and the coaches must cooperate and help one another to succeed.  According to the reports
the spirits of the team were very well and the players exchanged thoughts with their new coach about
past games.  Mr. Vieira told them that he was fully aware of everything that was going on with the
team and that he would do his outmost to guide the team to France '98.  According to Iranian television,
the new coach is already taking his work very seriously and is expected to have intense training sessions with
all the players starting today.  Bijan Zolfagharnazar, who is assistant to Vieira, will be doing the translation
for the Iranian players.  When Ali Daei found out that Mayeli Kohan was fired he expressed his
support for the new coach and insisted that he tried to persuade the IFF of problems in the
National Team earlier, but there was no interest on their part.   The new coaching staff are
confident that Iran will qualify to France 1998.

Till now in the Asia World Cup qualifications, 4 coaches have been fired by their respective soccer
federations. Many expect Kuwait Milan Macala and UAE's coach to increase the number to 6
coaches fired.

Vieira has a lot of work on his hand.  In event of a win be either Qatar or Saudi Arabia in their
Wednesday match, Iran will have to play Japan in Malaysia on November 16th at 3:30pm Tehran Local Time.
Japan is already in Malaysia and is preparing for a very crucial world cup qualifying match against
either Saudi Arabia or Iran.  In event of a draw between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Iran advances
as first in their group.  The Saudi team arrived in Doha on Monday and is already training
for their big game against Qatar.  Their coach, OttoPfeister, has not allowed any reporters
near Saudi players.  He said, "We are here to play soccer not give reports."
Security has been tightened around the Al-Arabi Stadium, where the game will be held.
Qatari officials are urging the public, Qatari and non-Qatari, to come to the stadium and
support the Qatari National Team in their hopes of beating Saudi Arabia and qualifying
for first time to World Cup.  For Qatar anything less than a win is not acceptable since
they will get third place in event of a tie.  Saudi Arabia can afford a tie but will definately
go out for a victory.  Persian Gulf Soccer predicted before this competition that
the victor of Group A would not be clear untill the very last game. We can
see that this has precisely happened..

Meanwhile in Tehran (Iran), Members of Iranian Parliament are calling for resignation of
Mustafa Hashemi Taba, the Vice President of the Iranian Physical Education Organization.
Hashemi Taba is solely responsible for the inability of the IFF to take necessary action
earlier in the competition to remove ex-Iranian coach Mayeli Kohan.  This and his ignorant
remarks about Khodadad Azizi and his refusal to remove Mayeli Kohan and his staff
stand fresh in the people's mind and there is a call for his resignation.

According to UAE's Al-Ittihad Newspaper (Arabic), the MPs in a letter to Speaker
Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri said Taba should step down from his post.  The MPs claimed that
their constituents had pressured them to take this action against the people whom
are responsible for damaging "the pride of Iran."

Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri said in the session, "The national football team is a source of national pride
and football has even gained political importance."  He added, "When 60 million Iranians pray for
the victory of their team, then it is not sports anymore but an issue of national concern."

Nateq Nuri announced that sports officials involved in any way with the downfall of the
National Team, including Vice President Hashemi Taba, would be summoned before parliament
to be asked "various questions" in a closed-door session.  Many newspapers are voicing anger
at Hashemi Taba and his ignorant remarks about the state of soccer in Iran and Iranian National
Team.  The firing of Mayeli Kohan has opened up a forum to consider the resignations of other
officials that "turned the other cheek" to the team's problems.  The anger expressed by Iranian
people after the 2-0 loss to Qatar has increased pressure on the Iranian Government to take
necessary action to prevent the disaster from happening again. 
This all shows the complexity of the current situation and the concern of Iranian officials that
the anger over the soccer result could spark up anger against the regime on other matters.

Wrestling-U.S. Team to Compete in Iran Irna
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - American wrestlers will contest a tournament in Iran next month, marking the first visit by a major U.S. sports team since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran's official news agency IRNA said on Wednesday.

``In a letter to the Iranian federation, the American wrestling federation announced that a five-man team along with five officials will attend the bouts,'' the agency said.

``The president of the American wrestling federation...will accompany the team in its trip to Tehran,'' it said.

The U.S. team would compete in February's freestyle tournament, one of several annual events marking the revolution anniversary, the agency added.

Iranian journalists said it would be the first time since the revolution a major U.S. sports team has competed in Iran.

The report came a week after Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a relative moderate, addressed Americans on television and appealed for cultural links as a way to break down years of mistrust between the two countries.

Khatami called for a dialogue between academics, writers, artists, journalists and tourists.

Iran has attended international wrestling meets in the United States and competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Iranian officials have invited U.S. teams to competitions in Iran and complained after American wrestlers failed to attend.

IRNA said the U.S. federation had invited Iran to attend a freestyle World Cup tournament in Oklahoma in April.

Washington broke diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 and has issued warnings to U.S. citizens about travelling to Iran.

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