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Team Melli Starts With 1-0 Win Against Uzbeks

Team Melli Starts With 1-0 Win Against UzbeksTeam Melli Starts With 1-0 Win Against Uzbeks

The national football team edged Uzbekistan 1-0 in a friendly match Tuesday in Tashkent benefitting from golden substitute, Mehdi Torabi’s goal.

Replacing Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Torabi stepped into the pitch in the 46th minute and 20 minutes later opened the Uzbek goalpost to score the only goal for Iran, IRNA reported.

Forward Ali Gholizadeh started a move from the right flank and passed the ball from between two Uzbek defenders to the penalty area. Saeid Ezatollahi received the ball and sent it into the goal area past the goalkeeper where Torabi easily found the back of the net.

In the first half Iran built up the defense wall and started to work in the middle of the field, not creating much danger for the rival's goal.

Uzbekistan tried to bring down the Iranian wall by long air passes behind the defense line. However, the only dangerous situation by Uzbeks on Iran’s goal came in the 55th minute but keeper Amir Abedzadeh sent the ball out and kept a clean sheet in his two national appearances for Team Melli.

Forward Mehdi Taremi had the chance to set a goal in the 52nd minute after dribbling the goal keeper but his slow pace gave the Uzbek defenders enough time to come back and keep the goal safe. Iran manger Carlos Queiroz said after the victory that the preparation of the players is more important than the final result. 

Despite managing the team, Queiroz has not signed an official contract with the Football Federation of Iran.

 Gentleman’s Agreement

In the so-called “gentleman’s agreement” Queiroz has accepted to lead the team until the fulfillment of his prerequisites related to the new Iran contract.

“Unfortunately, until this moment, it has not been possible to finalize the deal between the federation and myself,” Queiroz told a news conference on Monday. “There is an agreement, a gentleman’s agreement, but it was not possible to finish the formalities or from an official point of view.”

Queiroz is respected in Iran after taking the country to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and Russia this year - the only time Iran qualified for back-to-back world cups. However, his relationship with football officials has been much less than cordial throughout the seven-and-a-half years he is in Iran. Both Iran and Uzbekistan will participate in the AFC Asian Cup hosted by the UAE, January 5-February 1, 2019.

Iran is drawn with Iraq, Yemen and Vietnam in the group stage of the Asian Cup. Uzbekistan, led by newly-appointed Argentine coach Hector Cuper, is grouped with Japan, Oman and Turkmenistan in the Asian Cup.

Prior to the Tuesday game, the two teams had met 11 times since 1998. Iran was the winner in seven matches and lost once. Three games ended in draw. The 1-0 victory for Iran has been the most common result of all, happening five times including on Tuesday night.

The friendly with Uzbekistan was Iran's first match after the Russia World Cup (June 14-July 15) where Team Melli gained four points out of three matches against Morocco, Portugal and Spain but could not advance to the knockout stage.

Unconfirmed reports say the national team will next line up against Bolivia in preparation for the continental tournament.

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