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AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022: Maryam Irandoost taking Iran's women's team to new frontiers

The Iran women's team, which has just been formed, will be making their debut at the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup.

asian cup

The Iran women's team will be the only debutants at the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 17 Jan 2022 3:52 AM GMT

As the Islamic Republic of Iran embark on their first appearance at the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022, head coach Maryam Irandoost is tasked not only with succeeding on the pitch but transforming perceptions of it.

The woman behind Iran's women's national team explained where the game has come from and the future of women's football in the country in an episode of AFC's 'It's My Game' campaign. To many, it was the feel-good story of the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 qualification process. To Maryam Irandoost, it was the culmination of her life's work.

When the Islamic Republic of Iran's women's national team, nicknamed Team Melli Banovan, arrived in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent for their September 2021 qualifiers, they did so as the world's 72nd ranked side and one which had never qualified for Asia's women's national team flagship tournament.

They had tried and failed, to reach the AFC Women's Asian Cups in 2010, 2014, and 2018. But a spirited performance earned them a historic qualification that would alter the landscape of women's football in the country.

"In terms of the results achieved by our team, I am the most satisfied person on the planet," Maryam said Depicting the journey so far.

But she believes "from a technical point of view, our team has many areas to improve on and we are trying to solve these shortcomings during our training camps. So that we can be in better condition in the future and minimize our weaknesses."

Explaining their current transitional state the coach said, "Everyone knows that the women's football team in IR Iran has just been formed and we cannot solve all the shortcomings and problems in a short time. But I must say that we are all trying to solve these problems with more work, efforts and training harder."

It is clear that Iranian women's football has made extraordinary strides, particularly when Irandoost – the daughter of former Iranian player and coach Nosrat Irandoost - reflects on where it began."I have gone through these 42 years and have often been asked why a girl should play football, (and it is) better to cook Ghorme Sabzi," she said, referring to the popular Iranian herb stew.

Team Melli Banovan's qualification has supercharged the awareness of the women's national team within their football-loving nation. But it is only the beginning of a larger story if Irandoost's long-term vision is to be fulfilled.

"When your team is among the top 12 in Asia and will soon participate in the most prestigious national women's football tournament, then it will definitely have a positive impact on Iranian women's football," she declared.

Sharing her expectations and plans Maryan said, "with proper planning, our women's national teams will be organized in other age groups and a five-year plan for the growth and development of women's football will be implemented."

"If the support from the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran and the people of IR Iran continues, I promise you that we will reach the FIFA Women's World Cup in the next five years," told Maryan as she signed off.

Iran Squad

Goalkeepers: Zohreh Koodaei (1), Maryam Yektaei (12), Arefeh Seyedkazemi (22).

Defenders: Fatemeh Amineh (2), Hadieh Kor (3), Melika Motevalli (4), Ghazaelh Banitalebi (5), Behnaz Taherkhani (8), Zohreh Jalali (15), Fatemeh Adeli (19).

Midfielders: Zahra Sarbali (6), Sara Zohrabinia (10), Samaneh Chahkandi (11), Yasaman Farmani (13), Elham Farahmand (14), Zahra Masoumi (16), Melika Mohammadi (18), Marzieh Nikkhah (21), Sana Sadeghi (23).

Forwards: Afsaneh Chatrenoor (7), Sara Ghomi (9), Negin Zandi (17), Hajar Dabbaghi (20)

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