On Azmoun-Ghoochannejhad retirement from national duty

TEHRAN, Jul. 01 (MNA) – Two Iran national football team strikers Reza Ghoochannejhad and Sardar Azmoun quit national duty just after coming home from 2018 Russia World Cup.

Qualifying for 2018 World Cup as the second team, Iran had raised hopes for gaining unprecedented results in the history of their presence in World Cups; and they did.

Despite being in a very rough group besides giant Spain and Portugal and African champion Morocco, Team Melli gained four points but lost the chance to advance to the Round of 16.

Just like the games in the qualifying round, Iran proved its strong defensive line and just conceded two goals in its three matches.

Many experts and most of the public praised Iran’s defensive performance at the World Cup, however, when the focus is on defending, strikers have the least chance to become stars and they face a rather heavy emotional pressure.

When Iran was eliminated from World Cup, defenders and goalkeeper became heroes and some fierce criticisms centered on Iran’s attacking line.

The case of Ghoochannejhad

Seemed desperate, Reza Ghoochannejhad, posted a message on his Instagram account after arrival to Iran and announced that he is retiring from national duty.

“To wear Iran jersey was a dream which came true for me but I think it’s time to bid farewell to Team Melli. I would also like to thank all my coaches and teammates for helping me grow as a player in the previous six years and wish them all the best,” he wrote, Tehran Times reported.

The Heerenveen striker remained an unused substitute in all three World Cup matches and didn’t find the chance to prove his readiness, despite Iran's need to score to advance to the knockout stage for the first time.

Nicknamed ‘Gucci’, he has served six years in Team Melli scoring 16 goals in his 44 caps. His most dramatic and influential goal was that against South Korea in 2012 which led to Iran’s qualifying to 2014 Brazil World Cup.

Who knows, maybe his experience and mentality could solve Iran’s lack of scoring.

The 30-year-old striker has decided to quite national duty and focus on his family and newborn son, Doran, and his club competitions.

Ghoochannejhad and his son Doran

The emotional decision of Sardar

23-year-old Sardar Azmoun also dropped a retirement bombshell after coming home.

The news went viral in minutes, and made it the hottest topic among Iranian football fans.

Azmoun, also called ‘Iranian Messi’, played in three matches but couldn’t score a goal despite all hopes that were built on him. 

Sardar feels insulted by comments from national team supporters and believes they have resulted in his mother becoming ill again. 

"Unfortunately, with all the interest I have, and contrary to my heart's desire, I decided to say goodbye to the national team of my country … It's definitely the most painful decision for a young 23-year-old who has come here with a lot of hardship and misery,” he wrote, adding, “My mother had overcome a serious illness and I was happy. Unfortunately because of the unkindness of some people, and the insults that me and my team-mates in no way deserved, her illness has become severe. This has put me in a difficult position where I must pick one or the other - and as a result I pick my mother,” Goal reported.

Also, many people believe that he is far from retirement period and Team Melli needs strikers like Sardar.

“I hope that I could again score goals for the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Sardar on June 28 while addressing the people of his hometown Gonbad; a comment which shows he has changed his mind.

What is obvious here is that his decision is based on emotions to the point that Carlos Quieroz hasn’t commented on him, implying that he will probably be back.

Blame on players or Iran’s style?

The fact is that Quieroz has built a spectacular team which is focusing on defense and counter attacks. This style was most apparent when the team was playing against big names like Argentina, Spain and Portugal.

In this style, strikers are also extensively participating in defense and have the lowest chance to shine in attacks. This puts an extra physical and emotional pressure on strikers.

Team Melli needs improved strikers, no doubt, but the attacking line shouldn’t be harshly criticized when the team is concentrating on defense.

News Code 135285

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