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Iran to Dance With Professionals in "Big Dance"
From: Various Sources(CBS,BBC,Persian Gulf Soccer,...)
On December 4th the draw for the France '98 World Cup was held in Louis VIII's favorite city:
Marseilles, France.  Known for its beauty, elegance, culture, and history, Marseilles was the ideal
place to hold this important event.  History was being made in a city known for its rich history.
It has long been site of travelers since it is the largest port on the Mediterranean Sea.
On December 4th it was no different as thousands of soccer fans gathered in a soccer stadium
to witness the draw.

Close to 1 billion people worldwide tuned in to watch the World Cup draw.  The World Cup
will be held from June 10, 1998 till July 12, 1998 in France.     Eight groups were drawn up,
with each group consisting of 4 teams.  In each group there is at least one significant soccer power.
For Iran its two: Germany and Yugoslavia.

Iran was the last team added to Group F.  Group F consists of Yugoslavia, Germany, USA, and Iran.
Iran will have a chance to meet historic soccer power Germany in this World Cup.
Yugoslavia has historically been a dominant power on international stage. However, after the
break up of the country and civil war, soccer was forced lower on list of priorities. Nevertheless,
Yugoslavia is back this year with a side that many teams fear to play with.  Hungary learnt it the
hard way when they were thrashed by Yugoslavia 5-0 and 7-1 in the qualifications. With a very organized team
that plays full 90 minutes with great speed and physical strength, Yugoslavia could be threat to
Group F favorites Germany.  Iran and USA are least favorites, according to analysts, to
move through to 2nd Round.  However, history has shown great power such as Germany and
Italy that underestimating such teams could be fatal. Germany lost to Algeria in 1982 Spain
World Cup and was left in total shock. In 1990 Cameroon beat defending World Cup Champions
Argentina 1-0 in the first game of World Cup.  In 1994 Saudi Arabia beat Belgium 1-0 in First Round
games. Indeed there is many instances where the least favorite team comes out as victor.

Iran and USA are the "underdogs" in Group F.  Since 1990, USA has improved greatly in
soccer. The American Soccer Association decided to host the 1994 World Cup in hopes of
bringing the "soccer fever" found in other places in the world, to United States. Although it
was not successful, it has introduced the game to Americans and interest is starting to grow
as the MLS league starts to get more professional.  USA has shown in previous two World Cups that
it is a side to be reckoned with. It stood firmly against Italy in 1990 World Cup and lost by only
1 goal.

Iran qualified to the World Cup after 20 years.  Therefore it lacks the experience the other three
teams have on international stage. Nevertheless, with the talented players it has and better management,
it is definitely a team that is aiming to go beyond the First Round.  Following the draw, Iranian
Football Federation President, Dariush Mostafavi said, "We can do it with good coaching. We want
to go beyond First Round and set standard for other Asian teams to follow." About his ideas on the teams
in Group F, he said, "Iran should beat USA since they are not better than us. It is great boost and
honor to play Germany in World Cup. We hope to achieve our goals in France!"

Iran has never played Germany or USA before on international stage. Iran last met Yugoslavia
in 1985 in China when they lost to Yugoslavia 3-1.

Iran Schedule in France '98 World Cup:

Iran vs Yugoslavia     June 14, 1998
Iran vs USA               June 21, 1998
Iran vs Germany       June 25, 1998

Iran's Goals For World Cup:

Iran has qualified to the most prestigious tournament in the world.  The key to success in this
tournament is good management and excellent training. Training may mean different thing to
different people. Essentially training goes hand in hand with coaching.  At time of this article,
Iran remains officially without a coach.  There has been talks between IFF and
Raikoff (Yugoslavia) , Udo Lattek, Carlos Bilardo, Cessar Menotti and Borra Milutinovic (Yugoslavia)
for possible next coach of Iranian National Team. Vieira will be back with Iranian Olympic team.
Vieira said shortky after arriving in Dubai after game in Australia, "I would like to coach the
Olympic team since that is why I came here."

Raikoff may not be remembered by young readers. Raikoff, now age 70, is a very experienced
coach who was coach of Iranian National Team in early and mid 1970s.  He was basically
responsible for putting the 1978 team together.  However, just weeks prior to Argentina '78,
the IFF decided to give the team to an Iranian, Heshmat Mohajerani. Indeed it was Raikoff
who had given the team its structure.  Feeling betrayed he refused to stay in Iran
and left to neighboring Persian Gulf countries. In addition to being coach of National Team,
Raikoff was coach of Taj Club (Esteghlal). Overall he spent 11 years in Iran and speaks
Farsi fluently.  Right now he is interested to coach Iran in France '98, but negotiations have
not got anywhere. IFF is currently looking to Raikoff as a coach that can assist Iran in
its game with Yugoslavia.

Udo Latek is another experienced coach.  He was a spectacular player in Germany's Bayern München.
He has 3 German Cup titles and one European Title in 1974 as his achievements.   He is a very
disciplined coach and is one option for IFF. At time of this article no decision has been made.

Going back to "training", a good coach would choose his/her players and organize the team
according to the weaknesses or strengths of the team.  Iran's weakness continues to be in
defense.  In fact, what has plagued Iran since first day of qualification is its poor defense.
The weakness of the defense has caused stress on the mid-field, thus not allowing it to
do its job effectively. If the mid-field is forced to stay back and help the defense, then
the attack line is forced to create chances out of nothing and stay back to cover the mid-field.
As you can see, it is extremely important for Iran to put a new defense line in place before the
World Cup.  Analyzing the Iranian defense deserves considerable time and will not be discussed
in any detail here.  Players that must be looked at by new coaching and possibly replaced are
Mohammad Khakpour (Poor physical strength), Afshin Payrovanni (Poor Defending abilities),
and Ostad Asadi (Faulty when under pressure).

Once the players have been decided, then Iran needs to play atleast 7 friendly matches before
June 1998. Recall that FIFA gave IFF $3.5 million for qualifying. That sum is not for
decorating the offices of Mostafavi, but to spend on the team and give it enough practice to
play effectively before World Cup.  It would be ideal for Iran to play friendlies against sides
that resemble the other three teams in Group F.  Teams such as Hungary, Czech Republic,
Poland, and Bulgaria could give us some idea of what it feels like to play against Yugoslavia.
For some sense of playing against Germany a few friendlies with Belgium, France,
and Austria could give us wealth of information. For USA, another friendly against
Canada could be beneficial.  There is talks of bringing Iranian team to Toronto in
May '98 for game against Canada, Mexico, and Chile. This has not been confirmed.

What the IFF should not do is wait till a month before the World Cup and then play against neighboring
countries like Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE. Although it is good practice to play these teams, it isn't enough
to highlight the problems of our team against strong opponents like Germany and Yugoslavia.

Recall that the other key factor for success in World Cup for Iran was good management, something
that is lacking in IFF. We need a more responsible and able IFF that is able to put the Iranian National
Team above everything and do its most to assist and provide the necessary ingredients that are
needed for this team to succeed.  The IFF must be responsive to Iranian players and seek the
best possible coach for the budget that is available.  Since the Iranian team needs to play at least
seven games prior to June '98, the IFF must be in the forefront and organize the friendly games
and make sure the Iranian team is able to arrive in comfort at other venues.  Recall that the Iranian
team took 22 hours to arrive in Australia and close to that to arrive in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, when
the actual duration from Tehran to Riyadh is only couple of hours.

Playing these preliminary games will gave Iranian players the needed confidence to play against
a world power such as Germany.  Recall that in 1990 UAE lost its composer in front
of Germany and lost that match 5-1. The anxiety was so great among UAE players that they
even scored one goal on them selves.

Iranian players need to be shown, through experience, that "no mountain is too high" to climb
to reach your goal.  While some mountains may be larger  than others, ultimately
all of them can be climbed with enough confidence and perseverance.

Iran Qualifies for World Cup
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Iran's Khodadad Azizi gave his team the final World Cup qualifying spot Saturday as the visitors stunned Australia with two late goals in five minutes to progress on the away goals rule.

Australia was coasting into the finals at 2-0 with 75 minutes gone before Karim Bagheri exploited a defensive mix-up to pull one back. Five minutes later Azizi ran through to beat Aston Villa's Mark Bosnich one-on-one for a 3-3 aggregate after a 1-1 tie in Tehran.

``In Iran we were the better side and tonight Australia was -- we both had plenty of chances,'' Azizi said.

Coach Valdir Vierra said, ``I just sat there and prayed. I'm really sorry for the Australians and I know how Australian kids who play football are suffering.

``Australia should have been the winner here.''

Teenager Harry Kewell gave Australia the lead on 32 minutes and Aurelio Vidmar made it 2-0 in the 48th.

Former England manager Terry Venables, who joined the Socceroos for a chance to lead a team at the World Cup, extended his record to 12 wins and two tie in 14 games in charge but watched his dream evaporate.

It was a cruel moment for the man -- to match England's penalty shootout loss in last year's European Championship semifinal against Germany.

Kewell's goal gave Australia a deserved lead after the home side pounded Iran from the start in the 631st and final match to decide the 32 teams for France '98.

Vidmar, who missed two clear chances in the opening two minutes, beat Naeim Sadavisad on the left and speared a pass across the Iran penalty area.

Mark Viduka failed to get a touch as he dived in with a header but Kewell put away a right foot shot from close range at the far post.

Earlier Vidmar failed to beat Iran goalkeeper Ahmadreza Abedzadeh after going clean through in the first minute and soon after had a shot tipped wide.

Glasgow Rangers' Craig Moore had a shot cleared off the line by Sadavisad in the fourth minute and Mehdi Pasharzadeh put a reflex header over for a corner after a shot from Kewell had beaten the keeper on nine minutes.

Australia made one change from the match in Tehran and the introduction of West Ham united's Stan Lazaridis for Tony Vidmar lifted it after a lethargic first leg.

Lazaridis' pace down the left flank exhausted defenders Sadavisad and Mohammad Khakpour and he started the move which led to Vidmar's goal.

Iran was on the verge of direct qualification during the Asian play-offs but failed to win in its final three games.

Its entire coaching staff was sacked and Brazilian Vierra was brought in for a play off against Japan. Iran lost that 3-2 to be forced into the match against Oceania zone champion Australia.

An Australian record crowd of almost 100,000 watched the match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia's 1974 team, which failed to clear the first round in the country's only finals appearance, made a lap of the ground before the start.

Lineups:

Australia: Mark Bosnich, Steve Horvat, Alex Tobin, Craig Moore, Ned Zelic, Robbie Slater, Craig Foster, Stan Lazaridis, Aurelio Vidmar, Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka.

Iran: Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, Mohammadali Peiravany, Mohammed Khakpour, Mehdi Pasharzadeh, Naeim Sadavisad, Reza Shahroudi, Hamidreza Estili, Karim Bagheri, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Khodadad Azizi, Ali Daei.

Referee: Sandor Puhl, Hungary.

Tehran halts as fans celebrate
TEHRAN(Reuters) - Tehran was brought to a standstill on Saturday when thousands of Iranians poured into the capital to hail their country's qualification for the World Cup finals.

Cheering crowds jammed the streets in a celebration estimated to be the biggest since Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left the country, shortly before the 1979 Islamic revolution which ended his rule.

Confectioners and florists handed out their goods to passers-by as flag-waving youths stood on top of cars shouting "Iran! Iran!"

Government employees, who were returning home from work in state-owned buses, joined the party. Hanging out of the bus windows, they drummed the sides of their transport in time with the chants.

Iranian television reported similar celebrations across the country.

It said crowds in the north-western city of Tabriz had gathered outside the home of midfielder Karim Bagheri, who scored Iran's first goal in the 2-2 draw with Australia in Melbourne which clinched the place in France next year.

President Mohammad Khatami sent a message congratulating the team for their victory which takes Iran to the finals for the second time since their appearance in the 1978 tournament in Argentina.

Tehran's streets were deserted during the game, apart from groups of fans watching the action through television shop windows.

In the 1978 finals, Iran held Scotland 1-1 but finished last in their first round group after the Netherlands and Peru beat them.

Iran fills the last spot in World Cup 98
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Iran claimed the 32nd and last place in next year's World Cup finals in France by eliminating Australia on Saturday.

Two late goals from Karim Bagheri and Khodadad Azizi gave Iran a 2-2 draw in the second leg of the Asia/Oceania play-off and took them through on the away-goals rule in a 3-3 aggregate. The first leg in Tehran ended 1-1 on November 22.

The draw for the finals takes place in Marseille next Thursday.

Qualifiers:

EUROPE

AUSTRIA Previous finals: (6) 1934, 1954, 1958, 1978, 1982, 1990 Best performance: Semifinals (4th) 1934, semifinals (3rd) 1954 - - -

BELGIUM Previous finals: (9) 1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994. Best performance: semifinals 1986 (4th) - - -

BULGARIA Previous finals: (6) 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1994 Best performance: Semifinals (4th) 1994 - - -

CROATIA First appearance in finals - - -

DENMARK Previous finals: (1) 1986 Best performance: Second round - - -

ENGLAND Previous finals: (9) 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966,1970, 1982, 1986, 1990 Best performance: World champions 1966. Hosted World Cup 1966 - - -

FRANCE Qualified as host nation. Previous finals: (9) 1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986 Best performance: Semifinals 1958 (3rd) and 1986 (3rd), semifinals 1982 (4th). Hosted World Cup 1938 - - -

GERMANY Previous finals: (13) 1934, 1938, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 (qualified for finals of every World Cup entered) Best performance: World champions 1954, 1974, 1990 Hosted World Cup 1974 Played as West Germany from 1954 to 1990 inclusive - - -

ITALY Previous finals (13), 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 Best performance: World champions 1934, 1938, 1982 Hosted World Cup 1934, 1990 - - -

NETHERLANDS Previous finals: (6) 1934, 1938, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994 Best performance: Runners-up 1974, 1978 - - -

NORWAY Previous finals: (2) 1938, 1994 Best performance: 1st round 1938, 1994 - - -

ROMANIA Previous finals: (6) 1930, 1934, 1938, 1970, 1990, 1994 Best performance: Quarter-finals 1994 - - -

SCOTLAND Previous finals: (7) 1954, 1958, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990 Best performance: 1st round - - -

SPAIN Previous finals: (9) 1934, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 Best performance: Semifinals (4th) 1950 Hosted World Cup 1982 - - -

YUGOSLAVIA Previous finals: (8) 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1974, 1982, 1990 Best performance: semifinals 1930, 1962 (4th) - - -

SOUTH AMERICA

ARGENTINA Previous finals: (11) 1930, 1934, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 Best performance: World champions 1978, 1986 Hosted World Cup 1978 - - -

BRAZIL Qualified as world champions. Previous finals: (15) 1930, 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 (Only nation to have been in all finals). Best performance: World champions: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994. Hosted World Cup 1950 - - -

CHILE Previous finals: (6) 1930, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1982. Best performance: Third place 1962. Hosted World Cup 1962. - - -

COLOMBIA Previous finals: (3) 1962, 1990, 1994. Best performance: 2nd round, 1990. Note: Originally named as hosts for 1986 finals but tournament switched to Mexico due to lack of facilities and communications. - - -

PARAGUAY Previous finals: (4) 1930, 1950, 1958, 1986 Best performance: 2nd round, 1986 - - -

AFRICA

CAMEROON Previous finals: (3) 1982, 1990, 1994 Best performance: Quarter-finals 1990 - - -

MOROCCO Previous finals: (3) 1970, 1986, 1994 Best performance: 2nd round, 1986 - - -

NIGERIA Previous finals: (1) 1994 Best performance: 2nd round - - -

SOUTH AFRICA First appearance in finals - - -

TUNISIA Previous finals: (1) 1978 Best performance: 1st round - - -

ASIA

IRAN Previous finals (1) 1978 Best performance: 1st round - - -

JAPAN First appearance in finals - - -

SAUDI ARABIA Previous finals (1) 1994 Best performance: 2nd round - - -

SOUTH KOREA Previous finals (4) 1954, 1986, 1990, 1994 Best performance: never past 1st round - - -

CONCACAF

JAMAICA First appearance in finals. - - -

MEXICO Hosted World Cups 1970, 1986; Previous finals (10) 1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1978, 1986, 1994; Best performance: quarter-finals, 1970, 1986 - - -

UNITED STATES Hosted World Cup 1994; Previous finals (5) 1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994. Best performance: semifinals 1930

Khodad Azizi scores Iran's equaliser
BBC NEWS-
Iran have snatched the final World Cup place from Australia on away goals after drawing the second leg of their play-off 2-2 in Melbourne.

The tie finished 3-3 on aggregate, after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Tehran, but Iran go through to next year's finals in France because of their better away goal record.

Australia had been cruising towards qualification at 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go, when Iran stunned the 85,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with two goals in five minutes.

Iran's Karim Bagheri pulled the first goal back after a mix up in the Australian defence, before Khodadad Azizi ran through to beat the Australian keeper Mark Bosnich one-on-one for the equaliser.

Harry Kewell had given Australia the lead after half and hour and Aurelio Vidmar made it 2-0 early in the second half. However, the Australians failed to capitalise sufficiently on their dominance.

The Iranian coach, Valdir Vierra, said he felt sorry for Australian football fans: "If we had a winner here it should have been Australia."

The Australian coach and former England manager, Terry Venables, extended his record to 12 wins and two draws in 14 games in charge, but it was not enough.

After the game he said: "We looked as good as anyone will see. But that's football. It's unbelievable. I have not witnessed a game like it. We did everything but finish them off." Full list of the 32 qualifiers

Africa: Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia.

Asia: Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Iran.

America and the Caribbean: Jamaica, Mexico, United States.

Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, England, France(hosts), Germany, Italy, Holland, Norway, Romania, Scotland, Spain, Yugoslavia.

South America: Argentina, Brazil (defending champions), Colombia, Paraguay, Chile.

The draw for the finals takes place in Marseille on December 4.

Iran 1- Australia 1
Tehran- Iran tied with Australia today in qualifying games for World Cup Soccer 98. For Australia this score was better than 0 - 0 that they werehoping for. The next match will be in Australia and if the second game ends with a 0 - 0 score, then Australia will go to the WC-98because they did score 1 goal Iran's field. So Iran needs to winthe next game or tie it with a score of 2-2. If the game is tiedin Melbourne also with a 1-1- tie, then Iran has to play forsudden death for two 15 minutes game.

Iran Lose Four Key Players Against Australia
TEHRAN -XINHUA - Iran will fight against Australia without four key players through suspension in their first leg playoff this Saturday to decide the last berth in the 1998 World Cup finals.

According to local reports, Goalkeeper and Captain Ahmadreza Abedzadeh are among the list of the noticable absentees which also included midfielder Karim Baqeri, the top scorer of the Asian qualifiers.

Another suspended player was Khodadad Azizi, who plays for German club Koln and scored one of Iran's two goals against Japan last Sunday.

Five new players have been called up to reinforce the team, Iranian newspapers said.

Iran vs Japan Pre-Game Analysis
Edited From:Persian Gulf Soccer

The Iranian National team were favorites to win Group A throughout the qualification tournament.
They were able to clinche to first place in Group A for the whole qualification period. They lost that
place to Saudi Arabia after Saudis defeated Qatar 1-0. Indeed, Iran lost its first place status
in a time when it desperately needed it.

Nevertheless Iran still has a chance to qualify to France 1998 if it is able to defeat the
Japanese this Sunday in Malaysia. Ninety percent of the 22,000 tickets for the match at the Larkin Stadium have
been snapped up by Japanese fans. Many work in Johore or neighboring
Singapore, but some 10,000 supporters are expected to travel from Japan.
There has been some controversy as to why FIFA decided to have the game in Malaysia without
having the "draw" it had promised.

The Iranian team arrived in Malaysia just yesterday, while Japan has been practicing there
for past week. The humid weather and wetness of Malaysia, it is feared, could have negative
impact on Iranian players. However, the ability of Iranian players to withstand humidity
is well noted since Iran has played in Persian Gulf states numerous times and has gotten
used to humidity. They can expect lots of rain during what is the monsoon season in Malaysia.
The weather forecast shows a thunderstorm is likely late on Sunday
afternoon before the weather clears towards the kick-off at 2100 local time, or 5:00am Pacific Time.

As second place teams (Iran in Group A and Japan in Group B)
both have to play one game in which the victor must be decided by the end of the day.
If the game ends in a draw after 90 minutes there will be sudden-death (Golden Goal), and if
no result is gained after the 30 minute extra time then a nerve wrecking penalty shoot-out will
decide which team will go to France 1998. Indeed, it will be the most important game in the
history of both countries. A win is a ticket to France 1998.

In this article we will take a close look at Japanese team. The Iranian team has undergone
some changes since the takeover of Iran's new National Team coach Vialdo Vieira.
Some new players have been added to the squad, one which is veteran player Namjoo Motlagh.
Namjoo Motlagh was a key player on the National Team in late 1980s and early 1990s.
He is an experienced player in mid-field and could be a good replacement for Karim
Bagheri. Karim Bagheri will be missing this crucial match after he got a "red" card in the
Iran-Qatar game for hitting a Qatari player.

In past decade Japanese soccer has improved dramatically. In 1992 Japan won the Asian
Cup for its first ever time. Japan managed to qualify to Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and was able
to beat Brazil. Japan and South Korea will be hosting the next World Cup, in 2002.
The interest in soccer and expenditures by the Japanese Sporting Organization on
soccer in Japan has increased and many Japanese hope that Japan will be a dominant
force in Asia. Although there has been numerous successes, the overall performance of
Japan has been inconsistent. In 1996 Asian Cup Japan was eliminated in quarter-finals
after Kuwait thrashed them 2-0. Even in the World Cup qualification round recently, they
almost were eliminated had it not have been for that surprising 2-0 defeat of South Korea in
Seoul. At one point they almost lost to Uzbekistan and were able to score an equalizer in
last minute. Infact, their performance was so bad that their coach, Shu Kamo, was fired
after just three games. Nevertheless, since Okada took over this team Japan's fortunes have
increased. On the other hand, Iran's performance has gotten worse with every game.
While Japan were unbeaten in their final four matches under new coach
Okada, Iran have struggled. Without a qualified coaching staff and internal problems
eating away at heart of the Iranian team, Iran's hopes of an early qualification were dented.
Neverthleless, Iran remains hopeful of a win against Japan and with the guidance of its
new Brazilian coach, it hopes to break apart Japan's game plan.

Japan's previous coach said about Middle Eastern teams, " I expect we will have much tougher
games against the Middle Eastern countries in the final qualifying round."
He said this after his side's first round matches against Oman,
Nepal and Macau. "We will have no chance unless we improve our play." Indeed Japan
had a hard time playing against United Arab Emirates on both occasions. In Japan the
corner shots by UAE posed danger everytime. The technical superiority of the Middle
East teams remains a problem for Japan.

Japan's other worries are Lopes, who has been suffering with a heavy cold,
and Kazu, who twisted his ankle in training on Tuesday. But both should be fit
to play if selected. "We've cleared some hurdles but that doesn't mean we can clear the next
one," said Japan's manager Okada. "We're going to play a careful game as
Iran has a strong forward line." Ali Daei and Khodadad Azizi will make up the forward line for Iran.
Vieira has option of moving Azizi into mid-field, while Modir Rousta is put beside Daei in attack.
Ultimately Vieira will decide whats best depending on how the game goes. The most likely formation
for Iran will be 4-4-2. The 3-5-2 formation, which was used without effect by Mayeli Kohan, is
too risky considering the weakness of the Iranian defense and the importance of this match.
A 3-5-2 formation, while very efficient formation, could backfire and choke the team if
it is no implemented properly or if the team is inexperienced in that formation.
The Iranian team was not able to master this German introduced formation and
ended up getting choked against Qatar. Iran's Brazilian coach Vialdo Vieira will
most likely use 4-4-2 formation, since it is frequently used by Brazilian teams.
According to reports, Naim Sadavi, who was unjustly suspended for doping,
is back with the National Team. That should strengthen the ailing Iranian defense.

Japan Team:

The strength of the Japanese side is its forwards. The key ones are Kazu, Lopez (Brazilian), Jo,
Nakayama (very skilled), and Takagi. Lopez is of Brazilian origin and became Japanese citizen in September.
He is the engine of the team, same way Daei is on Iranian team. Kazu is another player Iranian defenders have
to keep an eye on. Kazu was trained in Brazil and became professional soccer player there. He returned to the
Japanese National team two years ago and has been major player since. Lopez's mother died a few days ago
and there has been questions whether he is able to play against Iran. He insists that he wants to play his best so
that he can dedicate presence of Japan in France World Cup to his mother. Lopez said, "
My mother told me we would be able to go to France for the World Cup. I want to play and give her
wish." The popular player in Japan is twenty-year-old Bellmare Hiratsuka (J-League) midfielder
Hidetoshi Nakata. He has a "tough guy" attitude and is a crucial player in Japan's mid-field.attitude that is unusual in
After bursting on to the Asian scene at the AFC's under 19 tournament in Jakarta three
years ago, Nakata has gone from strength to strength before debuting for the national team
in a friendly against Korea in May.

Other capable players on Japanese side include 22 year old Jo. He was a
crucial player in Japanese victory against Brazil in Atlanta. One of the tallest, if not tallest player
on the Japanese team is Takagi. Most Japanese players are disadvantaged in height.
This could be helpful in using high balls to threaten the Japanese goal.
Ali Daei's height can be useful in crosses from either Mahdavi Kia or Reza Shahroudi.

Okano is the fastest player on this squad according to Japanese reports. His speed has enabled him
to be effective in fending off challenges to the Japanese goal. Some claim that its a significant task to get by
this player. Akita is another crucial defender on the team.

The weakness of the Japanese side is in following areas : (i)technical abilities (ii)goal keeping (iii) porous defense
(iv) weak on corner kicks due to height constraints. The Iranian team outplays Japan in all these areas, although
defense is questionable. The strength of the Japanese team is following: (i)physical strength (ii)speed (iii)excellent
team work (iv) capable strikers. The Iranian defense can not afford to allow the Japanese team to counter-attack,
the way the Qataris did against Iran. The Japanese have faster players that play with one another with better
harmony than the Qataris.


It is not in Japan's interest if the game goes into penalty shoot out. Although both have 50/50 chance,
Iranian players are more experienced in taking penalty kicks and have a goal keeper that has
experience blocking penalty kicks. It was Abedzadeh in 1988 Asian Cup that caught all three
of China's penalty kicks in the third place game. Also in 1990 Asian Games it was Abedzadeh that
allowed Iran to win the championship after his spectacular saves against North Korea.

Overall the Iranian team has the ingredients to win this game. It all depends how well these different
ingredients "mix" with one another. It is no doubt a very crucial game that neither side can afford to
lose. The loser of this game will have to play Australia in home/away games later this month.
Already South Korea and Saudi Arabia have booked their place in France 1998. This game will
determine who will be the next happy traveller.

Here is the history of Iran-Japan games to date:

Date Venue Score Competition
07 Mar 1951 India Iran 3:2 Japan Asian Games
10 Dec 1966 Thailand Iran 1:3 Japan Asian Games
17 Dec 1966 Thailand Iran 1:0 Japan Asian Games
19 Nov 1982 India Iran 0:1 Japan Asian Games
29 Sep 1986 South Korea Iran 2:0 Japan Asian Games
08 Dec 1988 Qatar Iran 0:0 Japan Asian Cup
01 Oct 1990 China Iran 1:0 Japan Asian Games
03 Nov 1992 Japan Iran 0:1 Japan Asian Cup
18 Oct 1993 Qatar Iran 2:1 Japan World Cup Qualification

Iran has won 5 times out of 9 times they've met, while Japan has won 3 times out of
9 times they've met. There has been one draw. Iran has scored 10 goals,
while Japan has scored 8 goals.

The worst performance of Japan in Asian Cup was in Qatar 1988.
In that tournament Japan, Qatar, UAE, Iran and South Korea
were in same group. Japan failed to score a single goal in that
tournament. After the competition a Qatari reporter asked the
Japanese coach, "When was the last time your team scored a goal?"
Iran's team in that year did very well although they got third place.
They deserved to win first had the referee counted the Iranian
goal against Saudi Arabia in the semi-final. Namjoo Motlagh
and Abedzadeh were in that team, and will be playing
against Japan this Sunday.

Hashemi Taba Under Pressure as Iran Gets Back Up
From:Persian Gulf Soccer
Valdeir Vieira Begins Training Iranian Team / MPs Call For Taba's Resignation

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.

A Poor Finish to a Great Start: Iran's Fate Still Unclear
From:Persian Gulf Soccer
Doha-(QATAR)

FINAL SCORE: IRAN 0 QATAR 2

The game between Qatar and Iran was the most important game in history of Iranian soccer,
according to many analysts. Already Iran had striked out on two previous chances
to qualify to France 1998. A win against Qatar would have been definate qualification
for Iran.

The game was held in Doha's "Al-Arabi" stadium infront of 12,000 people, as apposed
to the 100,000 that regularily show up in Azadi to watch low profile matches.
Iran has always played poorly in this stadium for some reason.

Iran started off the game with poor team organization and chaotic passing. The first
20 minutes the game was chaotic, with balls going all over the field with no
plan from either side. Qatar took on the offensive with several attacks on the Iranian goal.

In minute 30 the Qataris scored their first ever goal in the history of soccer on Iran.
The goal was result of a cross from the left to Mohammad Salem Al-Enzi, who then
easily headed the ball into the left side of the Iranian goal. Iranian keeper Abedzadeh
was very slow to react to this cross and the Iranian defenders simply stood there and
watched the cross come for Al-Enzi.

Following this goal, Iran tried several times to open the game and take on the offensive.
The game started to get rough as disputed started to rise between Iranian players and
Qatari players. Karim Bagheri was quick to challenge Qatari players to an argument.

The half-time score remained 1-0 for Qatar.

In second half Iran took all out offensive with poor passing and organization.
The Iranian mid-field was extremely weak in this game. Even the right-wing (Mahdavi Kia)
was shut in this game. Every time Iran tried to attack, an off-side was called.
The Qatari defense knew exactly what the Iranians intended to do.
Iranian team constantly created traffic which caused chaos and bad passing.

Since almost all Iranian players were in Qatari side trying to score equalizer, this made the
oppertunity of counter-attack possible. Several times the Qataris were close to scoring
their second goal from a counter-attack. At one point Abedzadeh came out of goal
and challenged the Qatari player. It was extremely close situation for Iran.

Qatar did score in minute 80 from a counter-attack to take a 2-0 lead over Iran.
The goal was result of a counter-attack play in which it was two Qatari
players against one Iranian defender. Qatar's Mohammad Salem Al-Enzi took a pass from the
left and shot past Abedzadeh for his second goal of the game.

Few minutes after this goal things got even worse for Iran. Bagheri punched a Qatari
player and received a "red card." The Qatari player simply lay on the ground in pain
from Bagheri powerful punch.

The game finally ended shortly after.

This had been one of the worst performances of Iranian National Team to date.
The problems that have persisted in this team since day one (no organization, no team work,
weak passing techniques) still were not fixed by Iranian coach Mayeli Kohan.

Following this disasterious result, Iranian Football Federation President, Dariush Mostafavi,
fired Mayeli Kohan and his ciaching staff. The new coach is Valdi Yerouvi Yera, also
coach of Iran's Olympic team. Yerouvi Yera had received two offers at once, one from Iran
and the other from Costa Rica. He turned down Costa Rica and decided to go for Iran.
He has a great resume. Previously has worked in Germany, Venezuela,
Italy, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Brazil. He has already begun his work
with the Iranian Olympic team. Many analysts have welcomed the arrival of this Brazilian coach to Iran and
believe that he could provide Iranian players with better team work and organization, something
that is lacking in the Iranian National Team. One of his assistants will be Ebrahim Ghasempour.
Yera has welcomed this invitation and has promised success for Iranian National Team.

This was truly needed. Most of the weaknesses of the National Team were due to Mayeli Kohan's
inexperience. He was an unqualified coach of a team of such importance as Iranian National Team.
His numerous run-ins with fellow coaches and the players were examples of his inability to
effectively coach Iran to World Cup. He was fortunate that he was able to coach such a
talented team, otherwise he would have been fired long before. The fact that Iranian players
had no organization was result of Mayeli Kohan's inability to effectively coach this team.
The team looked more like indoor soccer team.

After this loss Iran will have to wait for Saudi Arabia-Qatar match next Friday.
Whomever wins will qualify to France 1998. If there is a draw, then Iran will qualify to
France 1998. In case of anything but a draw, Iran will have to play the second place
team from Group B (UAE or Japan) in Bahrain. The loser of the match will
have to play two home and away games against Australia. Kuwait and China
are now officially out of this competition.

Final Score: IRAN 0 SAUDI ARABIA 1
From:Persian Gulf Soccer
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The game between the two continental rivals was crucial to both teams, but especially
Saudi Arabia. For Iran a victory would have cleared the path for qualification to France
'98 World Cup. Kuwait had lost to Qatar 1-0 on its home soil hours prior to this match.
This virtually allowed Iran's goal difference with the other teams to be extended.
For the Saudis, this game was a "must win" situation. A loss would have put back there
hopes of qualifying. In addition, the Saudi Football Federation had indirectly warned
their German coach, Otto Pfister that anything less than a win, he would be "fired."
The Saudi media had launched immense attack on the Saudi Football Federation for
firing Eduardo Vingada. This and the loss to Kuwait (2-1) had increased public criticism of
the Saudi team and especially their new German coach. In fact, the Saudi Football Federation
had hinted to an Arabic newspaper from the Persian Gulf that it intended to dissolve the whole
Saudi team once the competition was over.

Iranian Football Federation President Dariush Mostafavi had said in a news conference
prior to the game, that Iran intended to show its friendliness toward its Persian Gulf
neighbor and this game was to extend the friendship between the two countries.
He added that the game itself (score) was secondary to the true purpose, that is to
bring Saudi Arabia and Iran closer together politically. Considering he is
the head of the Iranian Football Federation, he is not supposed to make such
political statements.

The game started with a constant pressure from the Saudis to score early in the match.
The Saudis virtually dominated the whole first half of the match. Iran was playing defensively
the whole first half with almost no attacks on the Saudi goal. Iranian coach, Mohammad Mayeli
Kohan did not use its leading striker Khodadad Azizi in the match. UAE newspapers had
guessed that the reason for this was that there was a dispute between the Cologne striker
and Mayeli Kohan. Modir Rousta was put in attack with Ali Daei instead.

The Iranian team began to fall apart early in the game. There was little doubt that
Iran was purposely playing defensively and was happy to leave Riyadh with a draw.
With a 2-5-3 formation, which is efficient formation for an attacking side, Iran attempted
to play defensively and prevent Saudis from scoring. Saudi Arabia kept immense pressure
on the Iranian team throughout the game. The attacking line (Daei and Modir Rousta)
was invisible. Almost all Iranian players had pulled back in defense. Whenever Iran did have
opportunity to score from counter-attack, it did not have any players in attack to materialize on
the chances and score. Throughout most of the match Ali Daie was left alone in attack with almost no
assistance from mid fielders Karim Bagheri and Mansourian. The team organization had
fallen totally apart with each player playing by himself. The only success on part of the
Iranian team was in defense. Khakpour, Modir Rousta, and Afshin Payrovanni did a
good job of keeping the numerous Saudi attacks under control.

The Saudi team played very well. As mentioned, they had to play well if they wanted to
stay in the competition. Even with three of their main players missing, including goal keeper
Al-Daieeyeh, Saudi Arabia played as a team and was able to keep Iran back in defense for
the whole game. Ali Daei and Karim Bagheri were disabled by Saudi "man to man" marking,
and the defense was left free to join in on the attacks. Saudi Arabia missed many opportunities
to score in the first half. The closest came in minute 16 of the game when a Saudi ball hit the Iranian post, much to
Iranian keeper Abedzadeh's relief.

The Iranian team was trying to go through 90 minutes of intense game by relying solely
on the weakest part of the team, the defense. There was little doubt that this
strategy on part of the Iranian coaches was doomed from the start. With a powerful
attacking team such as Iran, there needs to be an offense to push back the Saudis.
Even if it is not successful in scoring, at least it will cause the opposing team to
pull back. Once they pull back, it is harder for them to launch constant attacks
on the Iranian goal. Staying back and allowing the opposing team to have time to re-organize
itself is a bad decision on part of any coach. The Saudis had control of all areas of the field
and used it to launch dangerous attacks on Ahmad Abedzadeh.

With so much pressure on the defense, it was no surprise that eventually the Iranian defense
would give in. Much like a faulty battery that is forced to give power to the AC, Radio, Lights,
Heater, and Wiper when the car is idle, Iran's defense could not take further pressure.
Nevertheless Iran managed to successfully hold the Saudis to a 0-0 draw in the first half.
Many thought at this point that Mayeli Kohan would make necessary substitutions to get the
Iranian attacking machine back in action. This was not the decision of Mayeli Kohan.
He decided to go through the remaining 45 minutes playing defensively and using
counter-attacks to score goals. This had been precisely the mistake of Iran's previous
coaches, especially Ali Parvin. The Iranian team has immense attacking power. To use
it for defense is a waste. Ali Parvin's strategy, if he had any, was to play defensively
the whole game and punish the opposing team by counter-attacks. He managed to get
through 1990 Asian Games successfully by use of this strategy. But soon he found out
how disasterous it could be. Iran began to lose games by large goal differences.

Mayeli Kohan repeated Parvin's mistake in this game. He thought that the Saudis
would tire down after first half and the defense could turn into offense.
Instead of bringing in fresh energy (Khodadad Azizi), he relied on starting players.
When he made a substitution for Modir Rousta, he put in Gole Mohammadi. Using
Khodadad Azizi at the time might have brought some life back into the attack, even
more importantly the whole team.

Things got worse for the Iranian team when their key defense men, Ostad Asadi
was expelled. Ostad Asadi had a yellow card from first half. When he fouled
Saudi player Khalid Al-Timawi, the Mexican referee ordered him to leave
the field since he now had two yellow cards. With 10 players, and a defense that
was falling apart as each minute went by, Saudi Arabia was bound to score the
winning goal.

Saudi player Khalid Musaad (No.14) was able to put the ball into the Iranian goal after a pass
was given from the right side. Saudi Arabia had scored with less than a minute left in
the game. Saudi Arabia had finally scored the goal it had been striving for since minute 1.
Iran had lost its first game of the qualifications.

There is no doubt that Mayeli Kohan will be coming under immense pressure from the Iranian
media in the coming days. Although Saudi Arabia had played very well, Iran could have
come home with a minimum of one point had it kept to its original game plan: attack.
This win keeps Saudi Arabia in the tournament with 10 points, one point behind Iran.
Iran plays Kuwait next in Tehran on October 31st. Kuwait's chances look very dim
after a surprise 1-0 loss to Qatar in Kuwait City prior to the Iran-Saudi Arabia match.
Qatar's Adel Khamis put Qatar ahead early in the match (minute 10 of first half).
Sloppy work by Kuwaiti strikers prevented them from equalizing and preventing
this major upset. Kuwait is third place with 7 points, while China is fourth. Qatar is
at the bottom of the group with 4 points.

Iran One Step Away From France '98
From:Persian Gulf Soccer
Tehran-Final Score: Iran 4 China 1

The stadium was filled up hours before the crucial Iran-China match. With purchase of each
ticket, Iranian spectators got a free flag to wave in honor of their National Team. In a special section
Chinese residents of Iran were allocated seats with security personal on all sides. It was a match
that many Iranians will never forget.

A bit over 100,000 people packed Tehran's Azadi stadium to watch Iran and China battle for
a spot in France '98 World Cup.  This was the second meeting between China and Iran. The
first match was held in Dalian (China) in which Iran defeated China 4-2. It would be
a game that could decide the fate of not only Iran and China, but the other teams in Group A
(ie.Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). Qatar, the other team in this "Group of Death", has no chances
to advance now.

After the national anthems of both countries were played, the game between two of Asia's
finest sides went underway.  Playing for Iran were Ali Daie, Modir Rousta, Esteeli, Ali Reza Mansourian,
Mehdi Mahdavi Kia, Reza Shahroudi, Karim Bagheri, Ostad Asadi, Afshin Payrovanni,
Mohammad Khakpour, and goal keeper Ahmad Abedzadeh.  Azizi did not start playing
untill second half when he came in for Modir Rousta.

Iran was determined to win this match.  It knew that would be the most challenging
games of all the games they have played.

Iran started the game with full force.  Just three minutes into the game, just when the
Chinese were getting used to the Azadi field, Iran scored their first goal! Iran had
scored first in this game.  The goal scorer was Ali Reza Mansourian.  The goal was
set up by Mahdavi Kia. Mahdavi Kia passed the ball to Ali Daei, who then made
a brilliant side pass to running Mansourian. Mansourian shot it into the Chinese goal and
Iran were already 1-0 ahead.  They had virtually broken through China's solid defense line.

After that goal China seemed never were able to catch up to the Iranians.  China made some
dangerous attacks after the Iranian goal, one of them being a shot in the penalty box that
was saved by Iranian keeper and team captain Abedzadeh.  Had it not have been
for AbedZadeh's beautiful diving save, the game would have been tied. The Chinese
goal keeper Ou Chu Liang fended off many dangerous Iranian attacks on his goal.
But in minute 45 of the game, he made a mistake that put Iran 2-0 ahead.
It was the last few seconds when Iran had a throw in. Shahroudi wasted no time
and took it quickly. He gave the ball the Ostad Asadi who then took a long shot into the
Chinese penalty box.  The Chinese keeper made a mistake of coming out of his goal and
attempted to catch Ostad's Asadi's long ball. He caught the ball, but bounced right back
out of his arms into the control of Modir Rousta who was standing infront of him.
Modir Rousta wasted no time and put the ball past the Chinese goal keeper.
There were three Chinese defenders there but neither one could have saved China
from conceding a second goal.  Recall Modir Rousta had scored the final Iranian
goal on China in the first game as result of defensive error where the defender failed to clear the
ball and Modir Rousta took advantage of that and scored.

The half time score was Iran 2 China 0.  Iran had played a very fast game with great team
work and excellent defensive line.

The second half started with a bit more Chinese attacks on Iranian goal. The Iranian defense
did not give in. The defensive line was organized and crucial in bringing the balls from the
Iranian penalty box to the strikers in extremely short duration. Afshin Payrovanni played
his best in this game. He did not make mistake of going to far out to create a gap that could
be exploited by Chinese counter-attacks.  The Iranians were playing at such high speeds
that the Chinese were to busy defending, rather than trying to get back into the game.
The 100,000 strong Iranian crowd was getting louder by the minute. Everyone anticipated
a third Iranian goal. It would come in minute 68 of the match from, who else, Karim Bagheri.
Karim Bagheri has scored 6 goals to date in these qualification games. He is the top scorer
in Group A and a major component of the Iranian attacking machine. He is always at the
right place at the right time. This goal was precisely that!  It was somewhat similar to his goal
against Kuwait. He was at the end of a pass in the Chinese penalty box. The goal keeper
challenged him but Bagheri got to the ball before him and put ito the Chinese goal.
Iran was now 3-0 ahead of Asian favorite China.  Iran would not stop there.
Brilliant game by Mahdavi Kia produced numerous oppertunities for the Iranian side.
Ali Daei had the most chances. Most of his shots went centimeters off the Chinese goal.
Mahdavi Kia was the fuel behind Iran's great speed and provided Iran with a strong
right-wing.  Mahdavi Kia was not supposed to play because of leg injuries. However,
Iranian coach Mayeli Kohan decided that he was fit enough to play.

Although the Chinese team was 3-0 behind, it played rather well against China.
The passing was excellent and the skill levels of the players were high. The reason
it didn't score goals was that the Iranian team was faster and had put up an "Iranian Wall",
something like the Great Wall of China. It was very difficult to get past Khakpour, Ostad Asadi
and Payrovanni. Ostad Asadi played extremely well for Iran and headed to safety many dangerous
Chinese crosses in the Iranian penalty box.

Iran would score their last goal through the "best Iranian player ever", Ali Daei.  In minute 73,
in a counter attack, Ali Daei was left uncovered by Chinese defenders.  Up to that minute
there had been atleast 3 defenders covering Daei's every move. In fact, he was fouled
many times by the Chinese defenders, who were starting to get restless and frustrated.

Ali Daei took the ball, with no opposition, and shot it past the Chinese keeper with his
left foot. It was a brilliant goal for a brilliant player!  Iran were now 4-0 up. China's
hopes were shattered.  China attempted to score on some attacks, but the Iranian
defense did not give in.

The Chinese did manage to score a late goal and walk away from the match with something.  Towards the end of the match, the Iranian defense slowed down,thinking that any minute the Lebanese referee Nabil Saad would blow the whistle. But they were proven wrong. China's goal came in the 87th minute when Mao Yi Jun scored from long range into the upper left corner of the Iranian goal.
Abedzadeh had no chance. It was a beautiful shot. But it was too late for China.

Iran won the match 4-1 and Iranians in Azadi stadium celebrated as though Iran had already qualified. Iran now have 11 points, 4 points ahead of second place Kuwait.  Kuwait defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 in a rough and rugged game. The game was filled with fouls. Most of the fouls were commited by Saudi players. Saudi Arabia took the lead when they scored a goal by penalty kick.The half-time score was 1-0 for Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait put more pressure in second half and scored equalizer. Then Kuwait scored the winning goal when a corner kick was headed into the Saudi goal.  Ali Daeiyeh, the famous Saudi keeper, did not play in this match.  The match got violent towards the end and two red cards were given out, one for Kuwait and one for Saudi Arabia.  Kuwaiti player Bakheet tackled Saudi player from behind and got a red card.  He then got into a fight with two Saudi players.  The referee broke up the quarrel.  Kuwait had managed to get revenge for their earlier lose in Riyadh.  With this win, Kuwait jump from fourth place into second place. Saudi Arabia are in third place and China move down to fourth.

Kuwait's games ahead are very difficult. It will meet
Iran in Tehran on October 24th, and China in Beijing
a few weeks down the round.

Whats Next For Iran?

Iran will meet Saudi Arabia on Friday October 24th in Riyadh. Iran hasn't played in Saudi Arabia since late 1970s.  A win for Iran in that game is 90% qualification to France '98 World Cup!  A tie will postpone Iran's fate till the Iran-Kuwait match a week after. If Iran wins against Kuwait, then Iran will qualify definately!! It all depends what the scorers of the other teams will be like when Iran has finished its game with Saudi Arabia. Iran has a momentum that is very hard to stop. It is just one step away from France '98!!

Iran Are Favorites to Qualify From Group 'A' After Four Games
From:Persian Gulf Soccer
According to regional newspapers, the Iranian National Team are definate favorites to win Group A.
Along with Iran in Group A are Saudi Arabia, China, Kuwait and Qatar. Iran completed its
last game for the first leg of the qualifiers against Qatar in Tehran. Iran beat the visiting team 3-0.

The coach of the Qatari team was immediately given notice that his contract, which was to end in two
years time, would be terminated after the qualifications. The Dutch coach of the Qatari side, Mr JoBonfere
was interviewed by UAE Arabic newspaper "Al-Ittihad" following Qatar's disasterous game against Iran.
JoBonfere is man with excellent credentials and experience. He was the man responsible for Nigeria's
victory in the Atlanta Olympics. His team turned heads in Atlanta after defeating Brazil and Argentina, the
two favorites to win gold.

Since he came to Qatar he has seen nothing but criticism from Qatar Football Federation and
the Qatari media. In a detailed interview with Al-Ittihad newspaper, JoBonfere stated that he
did all he could for Qatari team, and that it was not his fault that things ended the way they have.
Qatar has two losses and one draw going into the Friday match against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.

JoBonfere added that he was very disappointed with the Qatari Football Federation and the fact that
they have blamed all the problems on him. He told the interviewer that he believed that the
Qatari Football Federation thought he would bring miracles and bring Qatar from the bottom
to the top in a short time span. He added that he believed that more time was needed to
improve the team and the decision by the Qatari Football Federation to let him go was not
a wise decision.

When asked what his plans were after the qualifying games, JoBonfere looked down, and replied
that he was confident that he would easily get another job with his experience and credentials.
He said that although several clubs from Arab states in the Persian Gulf have offered him
a job, he is hesitant and wants to take a few months rest in his native country Holland.
When asked his predictions of the outcome of the qualifications, JoBonfere added that he
believed that Iran would qualify from Group A and South Korea from Group B. He added that
Iran currently have the momentum to go all the way to the last game, while some of the
other teams in the Group did not. He did not specify which teams he was referring to.
Al-Ittihad, being a UAE newspaper, then asked JoBonfere what he thought of the UAE team's chances.
He smiled and replied that he did not know enough about the UAE team to say whether they would
qualify or not. He said that the battle is really between Japan and UAE. JoBonfere indirectly told
the interviewer that Japan's chances are higher than UAE. South Korea are not the same side that
was defeated by Iran 6-2 in last year's Asian Cup. The side has proved itself the better team
of both groups with 4 wins out of 4 games. High speed, technical superiority, and excellent
organization have made the Korean team into an unbeatable side, as UAE learnt the hard way.

Several other regional newspapers have also predicted that Iran would qualify from Group A.
Qatari newspapers spoke highly of Iranian coach Mayeli Kohan and his team's performance thus
far. Kuwaiti coach, Milan Macala, was quoted saying in Kuwaiti newspapers that he believed that
Iran and Kuwait would top Group A. Prior to the Iran-Kuwait match on September 26, he
said that Kuwait would win Group A, and Iran would be second place. Since the match, he
has not specified whether Kuwait will win the group or not. He still has assured Kuwait that their team
will make it to France '98. Milan Macala is probably going to be next to get fired as coach in the region.
Kuwaiti media continue to blame his decision to remove Kuwait's veteran defender Osama Hussein for
Saleh Al-Braki. The Kuwaiti media believe that had he kept Osama for the duration of the match, they
would have not conceded the late goal from Iran. Milan Macala has said that the Iranian goal would not
have been prevented by Ossama. He blamed the goal on defensive mishap. Kuwait's upcoming match against
China this Friday could decide whether Kuwait remains in the competition and whether Milan Macala
keeps his job. Kuwaiti newspapers point to Iran as the only rival of Kuwait in achieving first place in
Group A.

Although Saudi newspapers have not explicitly said that Iran are favorites to win, they have
acknowledged the powerful performance of Iran thus far and point to the upcoming Iran-Saudi match
on October 24th as the deciding game of Group A. There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia's Portugese coach Eduardo Vingada could be added to the list of foreign coaches that will be heading back home
if he fails to take Saudi Arabia to France '98. Saudi Arabia changes coaches five times faster than it
changes the National team. Just prior to Vingada was Brazilian Jose Mario. He was fired after Saudi Arabia
failed to achieve anything in 1996 Persian Gulf Cup.

Asian newspapers also look at Iran as favorites to advance from Group A. Japanese newspapers
believe that Iran have the best chance among the others in Group A. According to Iran's Hamshahri
newspaper, Malaysian television has predicted that Iran will advance from Group A. Even Chinese
newspapers have accepted the possibility of Iran achieving first place in Group A.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) magazine looks at Iran as likely team to advance to
France '98.

According to IRNA, the Iranian National Team resumed practice on Monday and is
scheduled to play a practice game on Friday. Khodadad Azizi, who is still recovering,
Karim Bagheri and Ali Daei did not practice with the team. Iranian coach Mohammad
Mayeli Kohan said in an interview that Iran will be under more pressure in the
upcoming games since they are the deciding games.
China's victory over Saudi Arabia in Dalian (1-0) has brought China back into the competition.
China, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait each have four points. Iran's chances are better
in the final leg since it plays Kuwait and China at home, leaving only the Qatar
game in Doha and Saudi Arabia game in Riyadh as the only possible challenges.

This is the first time in twenty years that Iran has come close to qualifying for the
World Cup. Iran qualified last in 1978, and did not enter in 1982 and 1986. It failed
to qualify after poor performances in the 1990 and 1994 qualification games. The
worst performance was in 1994 qualifications, in which Iran lost 3 games (Saudi Arabia,
South Korea, Iraq) and won two (North Korea, Japan). There are some veteran
players from the last qualifications currently on the team, such as Ali Daei and Abedzadeh.
In the coming games one should expect faster play by Iran and increased strength in
attack. Iran's strength is in right wing (Mahdavi Kia) should be an asset against opponents.
His long range shots should be used to test Saudi Arabian goal keeper Al-Daiyeh.

Iran Moves Several Steps Closer to France '98
Tehran
Iran: White Jersey
Qatar: Purple
From:Persian Gulf Soccer

The Qatari National Team arrived at Tehran's Azadi Stadium, one of largest soccer stadiums
in Asia, with feelings of uncertainty. The Iranian team needed a win to boost itself to the top
of Group A. Just hours prior to the Iran-Qatar match, the Chinese National Team had
defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0, thus paving the way for Iran to achieve first place in the first leg
of the World Cup qualifiers. It would be Iran's last game before the second leg starts in
two weeks time.

There weren't as many spectators in Azadi's 100,000 capacity stadium as in Iran-Saudi Arabia
match on September 19th. 80,000 spectators were reported in the stadium. Nevertheless,
the streets of Tehran were silent, as if a ghost town. Millions were in their houses awaiting the
broadcast of the match on IRIB 2. Spectators to Azadi stadium were required not to carry any
bottles (drinks) or any other objects that could be of any danger to others. This after
FIFA asked all soccer federations to disallow objects that could be harmful.

Iran came into this match without its major defensive players, Ostad Asadi and Mohammad Khakpour.
They did not play because they had two yellow cards, and regulation requires players
to miss a match. Thus many worried that Iran's defensive line, which was already in need
of reform, was to cause errors that could cost Iran the game.

That was not to be the case. Iran started the first half with waves of attacks on the Qatari
goal. The Qataris managed only once in the first half to stage an attack of somewhat
significance on Iran, only to be blocked by Iranian defense. Early in the first half Iranian
strikers, Daie and Azizi, had to run to get unorganized passes from the defensive line.
However, things began to get settled and line of communication between the defensive
line (two newcomers), and midfield began to be established.

Qatar was constantly on the defensive. It came into this match to get a draw, hence 1 point.
It knew that its chances of winning the match against the Asian favorites was close to
impossible. Whatever they had to do, they cleared the numerous balls Iran brought to
their penalty box.

Iran would finally succeed and score in the 34th minute. This would be the first time
in this competition Iran scored prior to its opponents. And the goal scorer was a man
many expected goals from; Ali Daie. Ali Daie had played extremely well in Iran's previous
matches and had given up many opportunities to score. Iran's Mansourian sent a ball
from the left side Qatari goal to Ali Daie. The Qatari defenders were by now in total
disarray. Daie took pass from Ali Reza Mansourian and hit it with a beautiful side kick into the Qatari goal.
The stadium shock with applause and joy! Iran had finally scored and the Qatari team, who had been in
defensive posture the whole half, were now in trouble.

After Daie's goal, Iran pushed further into Qatari defense. In minute 45 of first half Daie's Arminia
Bielfeld team mate, Karim Bagheri, scored his 4th goal of the World Cup qualifiers and Iran's second
goal of the match. The goal was result of Bagheri taking advantage of a mishap by Qatari defense and
scoring on their errors. Iran was now comfortable. Qatar, who had been wasting time in hopes of
getting a tie with Iran, were now keen on not wasting time. The first half finished 5 minutes into
injury time simply because a lot of time was wasted on injuries, mostly on part of Qataris.
Qataris got overwhelming number of yellow cards for their careless play.

The second half started with a bit more attacks from Qatar. Iran allowed the Qatari strikers to
pull forward, thus allowing enough gap to be created for a counter-attack. Iran's defensive line
was able to successful put an end to any danger that Qatar's Nigerian born strikers could pose.
The defense was better organized and more aware of other parts of the team.

Iran would score their third and final goal in the 58th minute. The goal scorer was who else than
Iran's Karim Bagheri. Once again Ali Reza Mansourian set up for a beautiful goal. The Qatari
defense blocks Mansourian's ball, causing the ball to return to Karim Bagheri who then made a
powerful shot from 20 meters into the Qatari goal. Everything that did not go well for Iran in previous
matches simply went well in this match. The most important improvement was in defense, which
was better in blocking opponents from getting to Iranian goal. Pictures of Iranian coach
Mayeli Kohan during the game show a coach that is extremely proud of his team.

With this win Iran top Group A for the first leg of qualifiers. In second place is Kuwait with 4 points,
then Saudi Arabia with 4 points, and China also with 4 points. Qatar's chances of any success are
highly unlikely considering they will play Saudi Arabia in Riyadh next Friday. Kuwait will meet
China in Kuwait City. No matter what the scores, Iran will be in first for the first leg of the
World Cup qualifiers. Karim Bagheri is currently top scorer in the competitions with 5 goals.

Iran will meet China next in Tehran. Qatar will not play Iran again until November 7th in
Doha Qatar. Khakpour and Ostad Asadi are back in Iranian defense for game against China.
Azizi who got injured in today's game against Qatar, is also expected to play.

TEAM
PLAYED
WON
LOST
DRAW
GOALS FOR
GOALS AGAINST
TOTAL POINTS
IRAN
4
2
0
2
9
4
8
KUWAIT
3
1
1
1
4
3
4
S.ARABIA
3
1
1
1
3
3
4
CHINA
3
1
1
1
4
5
4
QATAR
3
0
2
1
1
6
1

Iran Just Beat Qatar 3-0!
With China beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in an earlier game, Iran is now clearly in the lead in Qroup-A of the two Asian qualifying groups.

Iran scored 35 minutes into the game by Ali Daie and just before the half Bagheri scored again and the half ended 2-0. In the second half Bagheri scored again in (65 min.) for Iran and the game ended 3-0.

Qatar is far from being an Asian power house, but this game was crucial for Iranian offense to score and take the lead early, as they haven't done so in any of the previous 3 games. Defensively the played better than previous games and except for one real opportunity Qatar's offense was completely shut down.

Iran has a bye-week and play next against China in Tehran on October 17th.
Standing:
----------------------------------------------
Games Win Loss Draw Goals Points
----------------------------------------------
Iran 4 1 0 2 6:4 8
Kuwait 3 1 1 1 4:3 4
Saudi Arabia 3 1 0 1 3:3 4
China 3 0 1 1 4:5 4
Qatar 3 0 1 1 1:6 1
Note: Each win counts as 3 points and each tie 1 point.

IRAN vs. KUWAIT MATCH REPORT
From:Persian Gulf Soccer
Iran Put An End to Kuwaiti Hopes of Topping Group A
Kuwait City
FINAL SCORE: IRAN 1 KUWAIT 1

Iran's Lineup: Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh, Mohammad Khakpour, Afshin Peervanni,Reza Shahroudi, Mehrdad Minavand, Ali Akbar Astad Asadi (sub),Mehdi Mahdavi Kia, Hamid Esteeli,Karim Bagheri,Karim Bagheri, Ali Reza Mansourian, Dariush Yazdani(sub), Ali Daie, Khodadad Azizi, Ali Asghar Modir Rousta

Iran (White Jersey)
Kuwait (Blue Jersey)

The Iranian National Team and the Kuwaiti national team met in their first of two
World Cup Qualifying matches. The game was held in Kuwait's Qadisiya Sports
Club.

The Kuwaiti supporters were ready to leave to their homes joyous of a definate victory against
Iran when Karim Bagheri made certain that they leave with a memory of the Iranian team.

It was a crucial game for both teams, but especially to Kuwait who had already lost a match
to Saudi Arabia 2-1, and this was their first game on their own turf. Kuwait's first chance came
in first half at 14th minute when Kuwait missed on a chance from a
corner kick which was cleared by Iranian defencemen. Then in 15th minute another
chance was missed by Kuwait when a solo effort by Bashar ended in Abed Zadeh's hands.
His shot was powerful but Abed Zadeh was ready for it.

The Kuwaiti team was able to score a goal early in the match, which many argue was an offside.
The goal, in the 20th minute of the match, was scored by Kuwait's finest striker, 24 year old Jassim Al Houwaidi.
He was the same player that scored twice 1996 Asian Cup to put Japan out of the semi-finals.

The Kuwaiti goal was result of an interception by Bader Hajji in Kuwaiti zone, who in turn passed it to Houwaidi.
Houwaidi then passed it to Wabran in the center. Wabran then played a long pass behind Iranian defensemen,
hence the offside, giving Bashar the chance to get the ball and pass it to advancing Houwaidi.
The Iranian players rightfully declared an off side but the line refree dismissed it.

The first half ended 1-0 in favor of the host country. Meanwhile the Iranian crowd had been
totally quiet and in sadness of their country's lack to score a goal.

The second half was mostly Iranian. Iran is now officially the "Second Half Terminators".
Constantly Ali Daie took the ball within meters of the goal but failed to score a goal.
The superior Iranian offense constantly threw high balls over to the Kuwaiti penalty area,
but everytime there was a Kuwaiti defensemen to head it out.

Both sides wasted many oppertunities to score. But the best chance of the game,
according even to Kuwaitis, was in 85th minute when Ali Daie missed a perfect oppertunity to score
from just three meters on an open goal! Instead of shooting in the net he passed to a colleague who shot
in Kuwaiti goalkeeper's body.

Kuwait knew that pressure was mounting on the defense and that Iran was very close to score
an equalizer, so the team began to waste time. Constantly they passed senseless balls to each other
with aim of wasting time, which could be very valuable to the Iranian team.

As the Iranian and Kuwaiti crowd was about to leave, Modir Rousta headed a ball to Bagheri in the Kuwaiti penalty box, and
Bagheri then shot it past the Kuwaiti goal keeper Khalid Al-Fadli and scored the equalizer!
The stadium was suddenly quiet for a 10 seconds,but then the loud horns from Iranian side began to shake
the stadium.

The Kuwaitis, many whom had falsely assumed that Iran had lost and that Kuwait had won, were
on their way to the parking lots. With the late Iranian goal, they were shocked, without any words!
They at first just sat there and then began to "boo" the Kuwaiti team. Then things started to get
a bit havoc as the Iranians and Kuwaitis exchanged some words with one another and threw
bottles at one another. A Kuwaiti was injured in the process.

The Iranian supporters were positioned apart from the Kuwaitis from the start. About 6,000
Iranians showed up in the 20,000 full stadium. The exchanges were very minor and
there were no incidents of fights or squirmishes outside the stadium. There was
however a pipe bomb that exploded outside the stadium. Other than that, both sides returned
home peacefully. There was riot police there incase any trouble was to surface.

On the field the Iranian team was celebrating! Mayeli Kohan ran to the stadium where he embraced
Karim Bagheri, who is still feeling guilty for not scoring a penalty on the Saudis in Tehran.

Meanwhile at a press conference following the match, many reporters criticized Kuwait coach,
Milan Macala for substituting an experienced defencemen, Osama Hussein, in the final minutes.
Macala put a younger player, Saleh Al-Braki in instead. Team members said to reporters, "
It was a great game for the first 80 minutes, until Macala substituted Hussein for Al-Braki.
This sowed confusion in our defense allowed the Iranians to score in over-time."

Macala was pale in the press conference immediately following the match. He replied
to accusations, "This is what I thought is suitable and had no relationship to the
Iranian goal." Asked whether he would change anything for Kuwait's next game with
China, he replied, " Why? We have 14 days to rest and practice before we meet China.
We are only one point behind Iran." Just Tuesday Macala told reporters that he "guaranteed"
a Kuwaiti win and that Kuwait would be first in Group A. Although Kuwait still has a great
chance, it is not as certain as some of the other teams in group A.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are still ahead of Kuwait. Iran remains in first place with 5 points
leading the group, while, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have 4 points each.
Next week Saudi Arabia meet China while Iran meets Qatar in Tehran.
Iran are no doubt favorites to win this group. Iran and
Kuwait will meet again on October 31st (Halloween) in the "Arena of Death", or
commonly known as Tehran's Azadi stadium. Kuwait has never in its soccer history won
a match on Iranian soil. Iran has not, in past 20 years, lost a match to foreign team in Azadi
Stadium.

Clash of Persian Gulf TITANS
Tehran (Azadi Stadium)
From:Persian Gulf Soccer

Close to 120,000 Iranians packed Tehran's Azadi stadium for their country's
World Cup qualification match with Saudi Arabia. The rivalry between Iran
and Saudi Arabia goes back a decade to Singapore Asian Cup, where
Saudi Arabia won controversialy in the semi-final match. Iran would
play without Khodadad Azizi. Azizi had two yellow cards coming into
the game and FIFA regulations require players with two yellow cards to
step aside for one game. He will play on Friday against Kuwait.
Modir Rousta played in for Azizi in this match.

Iran came into the game with intention of winning and acquiring the 3 points
needed to put it well ahead all other teams in Group A. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand,
knew that Iran would come out in full force and decided to take a more defensive strategy.

The player of this match would no doubt have to be Saudi Arabian goal keeper
Mohammed Doayed. Recall that he was instrumental in Saudi Arabia's win against
Iran in penalty kicks in Asian Cup '96.

In this game he showed how important he is to the success of the Saudi team.
The first half was marked by Iranian attack on Saudi goal. Several times Iranian
attackers tested the veteran goal keeper and each time he proved to be a major
obstacle. The ultimate play for Mohammed Doayed came in 28th minute of
first half. Iran's Modir Rousta was fouled by Saudi defensemen in the penalty box
and a penalty was called by Japanese refree Masayoshi Okada. The crowd in
Azadi stadium went wild! The stadium shock with joy from Iranian crowd of
Iran's possible early lead in the game. The person designated to take the
penalty kick was Iranian star player Karim Bagheri. Early in the first half
Karim Bagheri was injured in mid air and was forced off the field by stretchers.
He eventually returned to the field minutes later.

Bagheri, who scored penalty kick against Canada and China, would miss this.
Saudi goalkeeper saved his team from going down on the scoreboard.
The 120,000 stadium that had been extremely joyous went suddenly quiet.
Not a single voice.

Since Iran played offensively throughout this match, its players were constantly
pushing forward. Even Khakpour of the Iranian defensive line went deep into Saudi defense.
As expected, this allowed the Saudis to counterattack and score a goal. In the
34th minute of second half Ibrahim Sweid took advantage of Iran's unorganized defense
and scored a goal for Saudi Arabia. What had been constant pressure from Iran to
score on Saudi goal turned into Saudi counterattack. Iranian goalkeeper
made a major mistake of coming too far out and leaving the goal empty.

From then on Saudi Arabia would do everything and anything to play defensively
to keep Iran from scoring a goal. In the 42nd minute of first half Iran almost
equalized by a goal from Star Ali Daie. The Japanese refree dismissed the goal
as offside and the score remained 1-0 for the Saudis.
Recall that in Asian Cup 1996 semi final, Daie scored a goal that
the money hungry Egyptian refree had dismissed. The same had
happened in 1984 when Iran had scored a goal and was dismissed.
They [Saudis] would succeed, atleast untill half time mark to keep the score
to their advantage.

Iran came into second half twice as determined to score a goal and prevent a loss
infront of 120,000 Iranians who had packed the stadium close to 6 hours prior to
the game.

The whole team, except for Iranian goal keeper Abed Zadeh, went into attack.
It was all or nothing at this point for Iran. Finally in 62nd minute of the game,
Karim Bagheri, who had missed the penalty earlier, finally took what he had missed earlier in the game;
a goal! Iran had equalized and the crowd was relieved that Iran
would not lose the match. Bagheri, many analysts said, did not have "a good
day." Simply lady luck was not on Iran's side. As in previous matches, Saudi
Arabia got away by virtue of great luck.

Iran would continue pressure on Saudi defense. While Iran had moved all of its players
into offense, Saudi Arabia had moved all the team into defense. Iran would
dominate the rest of the match. Saudi Arabia made one last dangerous attack which
turned out futile. Ball possesion: Iran (60%) Saud Arabia (40%).

Iran meets Kuwait in Kuwait City next and Saudi Arabia meets China.
In other games Kuwait defeated Persian Gulf state of Qatar 2-0, and
UAE held Japan to a 0-0 draw. In that match Japan would score
a goal only to be disallowed by refree.

Iran Start Qualifiers with POWER
DALIAN, China-By:Agence France-Presse
- Full back Mehdi Mahdavi Kiya scored two spectacular goals as Iran came from
two down to beat China 4-2 in a World Cup Asian qualifier here Saturday.

Living up to their favorites ranking, Iran (red jersey) kept to their attacking instinct even when behind and knocked China (white jersery) out cold in a dramatic final half hour.

Both of Mahdavi's goals came out of the blue. He beat four Chinese defenders to drive past goalkeeper Ou Chouliang in the 68th
minute and 16 minutes later the 20-year-old fired in a lightning shot past Ou from 35 meters.

The Chinese, who have improved since taking on English consultant Ted Buxton nine months ago, could not believe what
had happened after their promising, if controversial start to the Group A campaign.

Iran had the best chance of the first half when Ali Daei cleverly passed to fellow Bundesliga star Khodadad Azizi, but the Asian
player of the year's shot hit the post.

China took the lead two minutes from half time through a penalty by Fan Zhiyi. The decision by South Korean referee Park
Hae-Yong clearly annoyed the Iranian team who thought Zhang Enhua took a dive. Zhang was delighted and celebrated as though
he had scored.

Iran seemed destined for a shock defeat when Li Ming flung himself at a cross from the right and volleyed into the goal nine
minutes into the second half.

Kareem Bagheri, the third of the successful Iranian trio to make a breakthrough in the German first division, pulled one back with a
penalty that was as doubtful as the first, with no obvious offense.

With China tiring, Iran, who had started nervously, took the initiative and seized upon any chance, with even the enterprising
Mahdavi getting in on the act.

Iran put the match beyond dispute in the 86th minute when substitute Ali Asghar Modir Rousta controlled a ball that rebounded off
a Chinese defender and shot the fourth goal past Ou.

Iran and China are in Asia Group A along with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

The winners from the two Asian groups will go automatically through to the finals and the two second placed teams will play off
for a third spot. The loser of the play-offs will play Australia for a fourth spot.

For China, in such a tough group, the defeat already means they cannot afford to lose another of their seven matches if they want
to stand a chance of reaching the the World Cup finals for the first time as their fanatical followers now expect.

Final Score :Iran 1,Canada 0 BR>

From: Perian Gulf Soccer Page
Highlights of the Match from Varsity Stadium, Toronto Ontario...

(Iran Formation: 3-5-2)

-Goalkeeper: 1. Ahmad-Reza Abedzadeh
-Defenders: 4. Mohammad Khakpour, 15. Ali-Akbar Ostad-Asadi, 5. Afshin Peyrovani
-Midfielders: 6. Karim Bagheri, 7. Farhad Majidi, 8. Esmail Halali, 17. Mehdi Mahdavi-Kia, 25. Mehrdad Minavand
-Strikers: 10. Ali-Asghar Modir-Roosta, 11. Khodadad Azizi
-Substitutes: 2. Mohammad Taghavi, 3. Yahya Goalmohammadi, 9. Hashem Heydari, 12. Ali Mosavi, 14. Mohsen Garoosi, 16.
Mohammad Navazi, 18. Sohrab Bakhtiarzadeh, 19. Hamed Kavianpour 20. Mehdi Pashazadeh, 22. Nima Nakissa

(Canada Formation: 4-4-2)

-Goalkeeper: 18. Paul Dolan
3. Iain Fraser, 4. Jason DeVos, 13. Mark Watson, 5. Carl Fletcher
14. Geoff Aunger, 6. Nick DeSantis, 7. Tom Kouzmanis
9. Garret Kusch, 10. Eddy Berdusco
-Substitutes:
2. Jeff Clarke, 8. Rob Arristodemo, 15. Paul Stalteri, 22. Pat Onstad
Coach: Bob Lenarduzzi, Assistant Coach: Alan Errington

Referee: Esfandiar Baharmast (Denver,USA)

3:20pm (Toronto) Canadian National team arrives on the pitch wearing all red strip. Iran's national team was wearing an all white uniform. Canada will defend the north end of Varsity Stadium, while Iran the
south.

FIRST HALF

  • 7 min. Excellent cross-field ball for Iran's Khodadad Azizi is headed back by Canadian Carl Fletcher to Canadian keeper, Onstad.

  • 9 min 19 sec Good buildup by Iran. Iran puts together an impressive 12 passes until the ball was played out of bounds by Khodadad Azizi.
  • 10 min 15 sec Iranian speed is causing Canada problems. Sharp pass up the middle to Azizi has him sent through all alone only for Onstad to come out for the clearance. Mahdavi-Kia goes just wide of the far post.
  • 13 min 32 sec. End to end action. Begins with Azizi put through again. Onstad again forced to come off his line to ease the threat. For Canada, long ball up to Kusch is picked off his head by the Iranian keeper Abedzadeh.
  • 19 min 54 sec Aunger makes a strong tackle at the edge of the box denying Azizi a clear shot on net.
  • 23 min 25 sec After Jason DeVos pass from the back is picked off, Azizi is all alone on on Onstad. Azizi's shot forces Onstad into another leg save. Mahdavi-Kia puts the rebound over the bar.
  • 24 min 55 sec Majidi heads over the bar after being picked out an excellent ball by Madir-Roosta.
  • 35 min 28 sec Peyrovani is booked after coming over the top on Berdusco. The resulting free-kick sees Berdusco picked out on the touch line whose attempt to pull the ball back is snuffed out by Ostad-Asadi.
  • 39 min 05 sec Best chance of the game arrives to Modir-Roosta. All alone on the far side after Azizi played a ball into the box, Iran's Modir-Roosta's near post shot caught a tiring Canadian keeper, Onstad.
  • 44 min 33 sec. IRAN SCORES!! Bagheri scores from the penalty spot! Well struck to the left post, gave Onstad no chance. Penalty was awarded after a cross by Mahdavi-Kia was fouled by Canadian defender, Geoff Aunger. Aunger was booked on the play.

HALF TIME STATS:

- Half-time stats SHOTS: Canada 1 (Kouzmanis) Iran 9 (Mahdavi-Kia 3, Modir-Roosta 3, Peyrovani 1, Majidi 1, Azizi 1)

SAVES: Canada 6 (Onstad) Iran 2 (Abedzadeh)

FOULS: Canada 9 (Kusch 3, Aunger 3, Berdusco 1, Biello 1, Watson 1) Iran 5 (Peyrovani 1, Bagheri 1, Halai 1, Ostad-Asadi 2)

CORNERS: Canada 0 Iran 2 (Mahdavi-Kia 1, Minavand 1)

OFFSIDES: Canada 2 (Berdusco 2) Iran 1 (Majidi)

SECOND HALF

  • 78 min 12 sec Berdusco latches on to a loose ball. His shot forces Abedzadeh into a diving save at the near post.
  • 79 min 27 sec Good work between Kusch, Aunger and Bedusco. Bedusco's shot is high and wide after squiming by two tackles.
  • 81 min 13 sec DeSantis is booked for Canada.
  • 83 min 13 sec Aunger and Halali collide in a clumsy mid-field collision. Halali is stretchered off.
  • 85 min 20 sec Substitutions for Iran: Navazi in for the injured Heydari.
  • 88 min 03 sec Free kick for Canada from the left-side. DeSantis' ball to the far post has a trio of Canadians with an opportunity to head home, but Iran manages to clear the danger.
  • 1 min 30 sec into injury time. Berducso misses a volley in the six-yard box. Kusch is keen to head home the miskick, but barges over Abedzadeh in the process.
  • 90 min Refree blows whistle!! Iran wins 1-0!


FULL TIME STATS:

SHOTS: Canada 4 (Berdusco 2, Kouzmanis 1, DeVos 1) Iran 16 (Mahdavi-Kia 5, Azizi 3, Modir-Roosta 3, Majidi 2, Bagheri 1,
Peyrovani 1, Ostad-Asadi 1)

SAVES: Canada 10 (Onstad) Iran 7 (Abedzadeh) ) FOULS: Canada 15 (Aunger 6, Kusch 3, Berdusco 2, Watson 1, Biello 1,
DeSantis 1) Iran 16 (Mahdavi-Kia1, Ostad-Asadi 2, Azizi 1, Halai 1, Majidi 2, Bagheri 1, Peyrovani 1)

CORNERS: Canada 2 (DeSantis 1, Aunger 1) Iran 4 (Mahdavi-Kia 2, Minavand 2)

OFFSIDES: Canada 2 (Berdusco) Iran 4 (Bagheri, Majidi, Modir-Roosta, Mahdavi-Kia, Minavand)

ATTENDANCE: 15,325

Soccer: Iran vs. Canada: Toronto, Aug. 17(June 12, 1997)
This is an offical announcement. Mehrdad Massoudi is the Public Relations Manager of the Canadian Soccer Association. He visited Iran recently and arranged for a friendly match between the national football team of Iran and national team of Canada.

The date of the match is set for Sunday, August 17 in Toronto's Varsity Stadium at 4 PM. Canada has invited Iran for this friendly match. The date of the match is set for Sunday, August 17 in Toronto's Varsity Stadium at 4 PM. Canada has invited Iran for this friendly match.

World Cup Qualifying Glance-Asia(June 8, 1997)
By The Associated Press

Three or Four Teams Qualify Team GP W D L GF GA Pts x-Saudi Arabia 6 5 1 0 18 1 16 Malaysia 6 3 2 1 5 3 11 Taiwan 6 1 1 4 4 13 4 Bangladesh 6 1 0 5 4 14 3

Saudi Arabia 2, Taiwan 0

Malaysia 2, Bangladesh 0

Taiwan 3, Bangladesh 1

Malaysia 0, Saudi Arabia 0

Bangladesh 1, Saudi Arabia 4

Malaysia 2, Taiwan 0

Taiwan 0, Malaysia 0

Saudi Arabia 3, Bangladesh 0

Bangladesh 2, Taiwan 1

Saudi Arabia 3, Malaysia 0

Malaysia 1, Bangladesh 0

Saudi Arabia 6, Taiwan 0 Team GP W D L GF GA Pts Iran 4 4 0 0 28 1 12 Syria 3 2 0 1 24 1 6 Kyrgyzstan 3 1 0 2 4 10 3 Maldives 4 0 0 4 0 44 0

Iran 17, Maldives 0

Syria vs. Kyrgyzstan, postponed

Iran 7, Kyrgyzstan 0

Syria 12, Maldives 0

Kyrgyzstan 3, Maldives 0

Syria 0, Iran 1

Maldives 0, Syria 12

Iran 3, Kyrgyzstan 1

Kyrgyzstan vs. Syria

Iran vs. Maldives

Maldives vs. Kyrgyzstan

Iran vs. Syria Team GP W D L GF GA Pts x-United Arab Emr 4 3 1 0 7 1 10 Jordan 4 1 1 2 4 4 4 Bahrain 4 1 0 3 3 9 3

Jordan 0, United Arab Emirates 0

Bahrain 1, United Arab Emirates 2

Bahrain 1, Jordan 0

Jordan 4, Bahrain 1

United Arab Emirates 3, Bahrain 0

United Arab Emirates 2, Jordan 0 Team GP W D L GF GA Pts Japan 3 3 0 0 17 0 9 Oman 3 2 0 1 5 1 6 Macao 3 0 1 2 1 15 1 Nepal 3 0 1 2 1 8 1

Nepal 1, Macao 1

Oman 0, Japan 1

Japan 10, Macao 0

Oman 1, Nepal 0

Japan 6, Nepal 0

Oman 4, Macao 0

Nepal vs. Oman

Japan vs. Macao

Macao vs. Oman

Japan vs. Nepal

Macao vs. Nepal

Japan vs. Oman Team GP W D L GF GA Pts Uzbekistan 3 2 1 0 8 1 7 Yemen 4 2 1 1 8 1 7 Indonesia 4 1 3 0 10 2 6 Cambodia 5 0 1 4 1 23 1

Indonesia 8, Cambodia 0

Indonesia 0, Yemen 0

Cambodia 0, Yemen 1

Cambodia 1, Indonesia 1

Yemen 0, Uzbekistan 1

Yemen 7, Cambodia 0

Uzbekistan 6, Cambodia 0

Indonesia 1, Uzbekistan 1

Yemen vs. Indonesia

Uzbekistan vs. Indonesia

Cambodia vs. Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan vs. Yemen

Iran Gets World Cup Win(June 8, 1997)
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran beat Kyrgyzstan 3-1 Monday and stood atop Asian Group 2 in World Cup qualifying.

Both teams launched early attacks and Alireza Mansorian opened the scoring for Iran in the second minute. Kyrgyzstan stepped up the pressure and tied the game 1-1 in the 17th minute through Sergi Kotsov's header.

The Iranians, playing with a perfect record 3-0-0 and nine points, started out strong in the second half and increased their lead in the 52nd minute through Karim Bagheri's long-range shot.

Khodadad Azizi finished off any hope for Kyrgyzstan to get back into the game with his 77th minute strike.

Only the first-round group winners advance to the second round.

Iran Wins Qualifying Soccer Matches
By The Associated Press

Kazakstan overcame a partisan crowd of 50,000 in Baghdad on Friday to beat Iraq 2-1 in a an Asian Group 9 qualifying came for next year's soccer World Cup.

In Group 2 matches, Iran defeated Syria 1-0 and Kyrgyzstan beat the Maldives 3-0.

In Damascus, where the Group 2 matches were played, the only goal of the match was scored in the 66th minute by Ali Dye. Iran was coming off 17-0 and 7-0 wins earlier this week.

The Asian section of the World Cup qualifiers comprises 36 countries playing in 10 groups.

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