IRAN - SOUTH KOREA ( WCQ's - 10/12/2021)

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    IRAN - SOUTH KOREA ( WCQ's - 10/12/2021)

    A very tough game by any standards for us. Games against SKorea is ALWAYS a tough game for us, no matter who’s our coach or who is playing. So ppl expecting a rousing performance as if we were playing against Syria or Yemen, need to readjust their views. SKorae is and has always been a well organized, well drilled disciplined team.

    Therefore I suspect the strategy was to soak up pressure in the 1st half. Assess what the opponents are capable of. And then hit them on the break in a more aggressive 2nd half. This was going according to the plan until that magnificent pass/assist from Korea. That pass was pure class. And almost ANY team would have been hurt by such a pass, slicing through our midfield and defense.
    It was just unfortunate that our weakest player (on the day), Moharami was found wanting against Korea’s strongest player receiving this perfect pass. But then, as I said, almost any team would be hurt by such a pass.

    This put a spanner in our team’s strategy. But it was a good test too. For the team to show it CAN bounce back and come from behind. These are precious lessons for our team and I’m happy it happened against a team that will most probably be the other team qualifying for the WC, and not any THIRD team making the group more difficult and stressful.

    The fact that we shd have expected immense pressure on our right flank and defense was to be expected with Son operating there. And barring that marvelous assist, we did an above average job. Something to build on and remember.

    I assume Skocic merely followed his pre-determined script for the 2nd half and got his just rewards with the goal. In fact Korea was extremely lucky they didn’t lose the game by 3-1, with 2 more post hits. We also almost gave it all away in the dying minutes which I put it on: 1- Players’ fatigue and loss of focus and/or 2-Skocic’s bad “closing” strategy (more on this below).

    ================

    In defense and criticism of Skocic:

    1- I’m critical of his subbing and parts of his endgame strategy.
    For example, his subbing Azmoun out near the end, instead of Taremi is baffling. Most coaches would have taken taremi out. Unless Azmoun himself asked for it or he was still carrying a slight knock. Bringing a speedy Ghaedi was the correct decision BTW. Perhaps a little sooner.

    Also his strategy for the final 10 minutes of the game, if he meant to keep the tie wit an eye on a speedy counter, would have asked for a slightly higher line for the team, closer to the halfline. Not so close to our own 18.
    Then again, that may have been more the PLAYERS’ fatigue than a coach’s decision. So I’m not going to berate him for this.


    Midfield: Our mid lacked creativity. Maybe it was just wrong placement of players all across the 3 lines (I could venture Amiri at LB, JB at LW). But manly our midfield where although Ezzatolahi was in supreme form (a very welcome sign), Nourolahi was back to his usual (turning out BARE ACCEPTABLE MINIMUM performance). And if we leave out the Korean goal, I guess this too made sense with the overall strategy of the 1st half.

    But their goal forced Skocic to rethink and that’s why he asked Ghoddos (a more creative, forward looking player) to warm up. Hopefully for Nourolahi. And only once we scored did Skocic rethink his strategy (and I guess it was then that he settled for a draw) and change to Sarlak instead.

    Yes, I like many of you would have liked to see Saman come in. Who knows with his creativity and playmaking we would have scored another. So this is another “HALF” criticism I have. Half becoz again, this was Korea. And a draw, with us topping the group with 2 extra points was not a bad situation by any standards.



    2- In his favor are the following points that many seem to forget:
    - The capability & pedigree of the opponent team. This was not Syria or Lebanon. Don’t expect overwhelming superiority from the get go over them. We are pretty much equal teams with our own weak and strong points.

    - As said, his strategy made sense. Both for the 1st half and the 2nd half. And lets not forget, given an inch this side or that, we could have come out 3-1 winners. So temper your criticism.

    - Skocic’s reshuffle of the team really turned the game around and worked. And that is hallmark of a good coach. After the Korean goal, by bringing Nourafkan for LB, he allowed Amiri (who is wasted at LB) to come to LM/LW , by releasing JB (who was performing well. Despite many of your criticism) to his better suited RW role.

    What this did was reinforce our left side, both for defense as well as attacks. And with JB as RW, now, Koreans had to deal with TWO dangerous flanks. That’s why we were able to put extra pressure on them and even score.


    =================

    Bottomline is we got what we came for. Yes, we could have come out winners even. But we still top the group. And with TWO significant points above Korea (who shd not be our concern) and more crucially, FIVE very significant points above the 3rd placed team.

    We remain in the drivers’ seat an with the next 2 games against Lebanon and Syria, barring some freak accidents, we shd be qualifying for the WC with ease. In fact this could be our easiest of WC qualifications in our history.

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    The more I see Skocic's team play, the more and more I genuinely hate the fact that he has us playing a defensive and reactive football. Playing defense and counter attacking is suited to teams that lack offensive weapons. While Iran is currently arguably the strongest offensive or at worst among the top 3-4 offensive teams in the continent. I don't see the need to play so cautiously against the likes of UAE, Syria, Iraq and even Korea.

    His overly cautious approach has (granted) yielded some good results but the team looks extremely poor on offense (with almost no cohesive strategy present from game to game.) On offense the team relies on individual sparks of creativity to overcome poor passing which sadly is a feature of the team on offense. Many, many times we see the team playing Ali asghari long balls up the field in hopes that it connects with our forwards, and that they can then create something using their individual skill. This is not going to cut it against better teams who have players equal to or better than our forwards.

    What we learned from the Korea game is that tm has the talent to dominate the likes of Korea if they play attacking football. When they play a defense first approach as they did for most of the first and the beginning of the second half nothing is achieved and the team went behind. His decision to have the team pull back and play defense for the last 10 minutes also nearly cost us the game. This decision was taken at a point in the game when we were pressing the Koreans and nearly scored on multiple occasions. Why change the strategy and give up all the momentum and potential to win the game by giving in to fear? The team should have continued to play positive attacking football. Doing so will lead to comfortable wins and possibly dominant wins even against the likes of Korea. The Croatian chicken brand of football he has the team playing will ultimately cause the team to underperform and not reach their potential.

    His choice of substitutions also boggles the mind. Taremi must have given up possession close to 10 times in that game between the poor passing and missed shots, yet he was never subbed out. Clearly he was having a poor game. Sardar who was our best attacking player gets subbed instead. What was the point of bringing in Ghaedi with a handful of minutes left while leaving Ghoddos and Ansarifard on the bench and Taremi the turnover machine still in the game?
    The REAL. The LEGEND. Since 2001.

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    Agree with everything.
    Except I wouldnt call his tactics defensive
    Caution is not defensive.
    CQ was "defensive".
    He is more cautious but FORWARD looking. And yes I agree. A bit too cautious, at times.

    But compared to CQ's, I see more offensive movements in the team. Patient build up certainly. But it's forward looking nevertheless.
    As you mentioned too, when we NEEDED to attack and get more adventurous, we did with ease and comfort.

    If I had his ears, I would emphasis on strengthening the MIDFIELD and midfield creativity. This is why many like you are complaining about Skocic underperforming. Bcoz we have two world class forwards who an hurt just about ANY top team.
    The problem is they dont get the service they require

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    YES F+ IS BACK. Also welcome back DD. Been a while.

    My main issue with Skocic is that I can't see us performing well against big opposition. Like you said, our build-up play is ... bad. In defence, it looks like our primary goal is to kick it out of our half and hope that our mid/forwards do something with the ball. I'd love to see Majid Hosseini back in the lineup, and Abedzadeh (out of all people) is another player who can help us with this.

    We badly miss Ando, and someone like Ebrahimi in midfield to help Ezatolahi. Nourollahi plays well in this system IMO because he seems to be the only player throwing passes to Azmoun and Taremi, but we desperately need Gholizadeh, Ghoddos, or some other player who can hold the ball and either make an incisive pass or move the ball up with their midfield partner.

    Not a fan of Skocic, but I'm glad that we're playing with 2 forwards. I do wish that we could absorb pressure a bit better and leave one of the guys at the top so that the other can drop back occasionally, but that would require a significant shift in tactics and I don't think we have the coach to do it.

    I do wonder what an Iran would look like with 3 center backs, in a 3-5-2. I don't know that I would trust any of our CBs other than Hosseini to play in that formation though. With the latest call ups, here's what I would like to see for the next games:

    ------------Abedzadeh------------
    ----Hosseini------Shoja----------Kanaani----
    ---Hardani/Moharrami----Ezza---Amiri---Mohammadi----
    ------------Ghoddos/Gholi/JB----------------
    --------Taremi---------Azmoun-------------

    It's a bizarre lineup I know, but we have a bizarre list called up.
    Ma Bishomarim

    "!خدایا ایستاده مردن را نصبیم کن که از نشسته زیستن در زلت خسته ام"
    محمد مختاری -

    "Lord, let me die standing, as I am tired of living in indignity and on my knees"
    - Mohammad Mokhtari

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  8. #5
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    True on the weak build up.
    I have very little problem with patience and patient build up (as a barca fan, I'm contractually & legally obligated to agree/accept 745 passes before my team reaches the opponent's box).

    At times i looks like 4-2-4 (or 4-2-2-2 ) with 2 DM's and wide players sticking to flanks mostly. Problem is the wide players (JB/Gholi , Amiri/JB) are the only ones with some creativity but are not really allowed to stay in the middle to help with creativity!
    That puts the onus of attacks on the wings only. And that makes us predictable (again, as a barca fan I'm too familiar with the crippling misery of "being predictable"!)
    That's why we keep seeing Taremi coming into midfield to gather a pass or create something himself!


    for all my defense of Skocic, had we been in the other group, I shudder to think where we'd have been.
    But then again, we could be as low as 4th or as high as 2nd.
    The thing is we need to get some decent friendlies to see what TM is capable of if the stress/pressure of qualification is removed.

    ============

    Thanks for the welcome. But I've been here on & off.
    The thing is I didnt watch the other games fully. So I hesitate to write up something on a game I've watched the total of 50 mins.

    But I agree. F+ is a little haven where silly distractions iin discussions are not common.
    brilliant idea Kamran or whoever thought of starting the F+ a gazillion years ago.

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