Reflecting on Iran’s loss to South Korea
For Team Melli fans another Asian dream bit the dust. Once again, since 1976, we failed to achieve greatness in Asia, and once again it came courtesy of South Korea.
We can take long pages to analyze every small detail that may have gone wrong on the pitch. That would be just fine, but I am not sure how helpful that might be in solving any of our football’s problems.
It is not a coincidence that over the last three decades football in the rest of Asia has systematically improved at a faster pace than Iranian football. Saturday’s loss to South Korea was yet another reminder that the South Koreans have now officially left us behind in Asian football’s pecking order, as may have Japanese. The reasons behind this shift in power include many socio-economic and political changes in the region as well as the dominant management and planning cultures in each country, but here we will mainly focus on the match.
Three main factors culmination of which resulted in yesterday’s defeat can be summarized as follows:
Big match pressure
Our starting eleven made many unforced errors during the course of the match. They missed many simple passes and made many wrong decisions. While these bad passes and bad decisions did not directly cost them the match, but altogether they contributed to the lack of cohesiveness and their eventual failure to win.
Part of the reason, one may argue, was the coaching staff’s wrong choices for the starting eleven and that would be a very valid argument. The other factor, and in my opinion the most important one, was that most of starting eleven failed to perform up to their potential under the pressure. This is generally caused by fragile mindset and lack of self-belief. Coaching staffs around the world deal with this problem by scheduling numerous matches designed to put the team in simulated high pressure situations and using sport psychology techniques that help toughen up the players’ mental attitudes and reinforce team resolve.
Team Melli’s coaching staff failed to prepare the team for the match.
Preparing a team has three distinct yet interrelated aspects: physical, tactical, and psychological.
It is fare to say that the coaching staff did well in getting the players in top physical shape and kept them there for the duration. Not counting the flu that affected a number of players in Doha, the team seemed to be in very good physical shape. According to some of the match stats that I have seen, their work rate was very satisfactory.
The team’s tactical readiness includes, but is not limited to, understanding the opposition and their tactics, choosing suitable tactics for the match, selecting the right starting eleven, and communicating the game plan to the starting eleven and making sure they get it, and last but not least making the necessary adjustments during the match.
It is fair to say that Team Melli did well on the defensive end, but on the offensive side of the field they lacked imagination. It seemed like the coaching staff was either mostly concerned with not losing rather than winning the match, or failed to properly chose and/or deploy their offensive plan.
We have already touched on the psychological angle in the previous section. The psychological preparedness of the team lies squarely on the coaching staff’s shoulders. They must instill the right winning attitude into each player’s mind. Players who cannot learn to play without fear and are timid should not be there in the first place.
Most of our players looked nervous through most of the tournament and nervous players usually fail to win. An experienced coach staff knows how to deal with this. Perhaps in Team Melli’s case, the lack of experience of their coaching staff finally caught up with them in this tournament.
The Iranian Football Federation
When it comes to the success of national team, any football organization’s main responsibility is to select the right coaching staff, and then step back and provide them with the support they need.
By most accounts the Iranian football Federation did a good job of supporting the team during the last few weeks, but it is hard to build a perfectly upright wall when the foundation is not lopsided. Did the federation made the right decision in hiring a coaching staff that lacked a proven track record at international level?
This current coaching staff was hired over a year ago after the Iranian Football Federation went through an embarrassing and well covered selection process that included a few better known names including Javier Clemente. Would having a more experienced coaching staff in charge make a difference on Saturday? Perhaps it would have.
In conclusion we are left wondering what is next. Sadly as long as Iranian football is managed as poorly as it has been over the last few decades, it is hard to imagine any significant improvements. There may come a talented generation like the one that took us to France in 1998 and with a little luck Team Melli may shine brighter for a short period thanks to their dedication and efforts, but even then only a short term success may be the best we could hope for.
YOURE BACK DOOSTAMMM!!!!!
*well, been back but I just saw this now
Giuseppe, where have you been?
Posted from United States
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