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Old 02-18-2006, 07:03 AM   #1
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"Discussing Mexico with Afshin Ghotbi", by Kaveh Mahjoub

Dear all
Here is another piece of art done by Kaveh and Afshin Ghotbi. Read and enjoy the quality.
Here is the source
On Wednesday, February 15th, in a fast and entertaining game, South Korea defeated Mexico 1 – 0. The goal was one of the strangest one that many have seen. Mexico’s #1 goalkeeper, Sanchez, after stopping a free kick, threw the ball 10 yards in front of him and right in front of Lee Dong-Gook who was puzzled by keeper’s mental mistake but quickly regrouped and scored his easiest international goal ever.

After the game, Kaveh Mahjoob ( had an opportunity to speak with Afshin Ghotbi, the Iranian assistant coach of Korean national team.

Kaveh – For this match, Dick Advocat, the Korean head coach, was out due to family emergency. How did you manage to prepare the team?

Afshin – Piem and I as well as other coaches worked well with the team. We have been on a 40+ day camp and tour in the U.S. and other countries. This was our last match prior to returning to Asia and as a result, the team went out there aggressive and played very well.

Kaveh – How did you see the Mexican side?

Afshin – Mexico is a very good team with exceptional players. Individually, they are skilled and create opportunities out of ordinary situations. They have several players that can score on you. We have a lot of respect for this team.

When defending, we were well organized and made it very difficult for the Mexicans to free themselves up for opportunities. Any time they had the ball, we had several defenders around them. We also played a physical game. Another key to our success was closing all open spaces for their midfielders and we pressed with our forwards when their defenders had the ball.

When attacking, we moved the ball quickly and with two or three long passes pushed forward. Mexico was not able to adjust to this style of play. As you saw in the game in the midfield, we moved the ball from left to right and back to left with high and long passes. This style of play forced Mexico to play into our hands rather than the other way around. We knew that if we scored a goal, Mexico would have no choice but to follow our suit and they did.

Kaveh – It felt like your midfield controlled the Mexican side very well. What were the keys for this success?

Afshin – On one on ones, we won the ball more often than not. Our counter attacks had put them under a lot of pressure. Another key factor was that Mexico had three central defenders. This meant that we had open lanes to penetrate from both wings. Again as you saw, we moved quickly and that type of movement created a lot of opportunities against them.

Kaveh – Your team had 18 shots on Mexican goal to their 9 shots. I felt that your offense had an standing order to take long shots at any given point. This was especially true for Lee Chun-Soo who probably took 6 of the shots.

Afshin – It is true that when you move fast, you get open space to take shots but we took some poor ones. We should have been far more careful in our shot selections. We had abundance of nervous energy.

Kaveh – What do you think were Mexico’s weakness in this match and how about the absence of their key players?

Afshin – They missed 3 starters including Borgetti who is a great attacker. His absence was felt. Otherwise, Mexico played with most of their starters. We on the other hand were missing 6 starters from our team.

As for Mexico’s weaknesses:
Mexico failed to make the tactical changes to match our style of play
Mexico was not a good match for Korea’s great speed
They failed to provide relief for their teammates when we pressed them
On dead balls, we knew precisely how they were going to act both on offense and defense. As a result, they didn’t make a significant threat against us. We also had studied their off-side traps and our only goal, as strange as it was, was based on their poor offside trapping.

Kaveh – How about the stadium atmosphere? There were over 64,000 fans in the stadium and almost all pro Mexico.

Afshin – For them it was a “home” game. There were a couple of thousand Korean fans in the stands but their voices were lost among the wave of Mexican cheers. The atmosphere was festival like and the game was entertaining.

Kaveh – You have studied Mexico and they are our first opponent in Germany. Any suggestions for our side?

Afshin – Iran has to have a well organized defense and take away the open space from their midfield. As you saw in this game, they have a difficult time playing against a fast team and Iran needs to work on their speed and transition of the ball from the backfield to front. On the right side, with Kaabi and Mahdavi Kia, Iran has that ability. I hope by now Branko has solved the puzzle on the left side. (Kaveh’s note: Sorry Afshin, no such luck!)

Players have to be strong mentally and physically. Against Mexico you have to play a physical match. Players have to get on the pitch with the attitude that they are fighting for the country and their team. That first match is huge.

Also, remember that in Germany, unlike Los Angels, the fans on the stands would be distributed more evenly and the extra charge that Mexican players got here (Los Angeles) would not be there.

Kaveh - …so you are also saying that this Mexican team is beatable.
Afshin – Again, I have tremendous respect for them and their coaching staff. But, if the factors that I pointed earlier are paid attention to, Iran could surprise them.

Kaveh – Thanks for your time and I wish you a great career and success.

Afshin – Thank you and I do wish and hope for Iran’s success in the world cup.

Thanks to Kaveh for giving me the permission to post a copy of this article.
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Old 02-18-2006, 06:56 PM   #2
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Re: "Discussing Mexico with Afshin Ghotbi", by Kaveh Mahjoub

Thanks to Mr Ghotbi for his great analysis, and Kaveh for the interview.

It was interesting that he pointed out the fact that the South Korean team had more ball posession in the midfield by overpowering the Korean midfielders.

This is the formation that the Mexican team used successfully in last year's confederation cup.

The key to counter this formation is to neturalize the Wing Backs which are detrimental to the success of the 5-3-2 formation. On right we have Mahdavikia and Kaebi who on a good day can accomplish this. To our left we need someone behind Zandi. (Someone other than Nosrati and Zare I hope). Otherwise we are souped.

Also the fact that our offense has to constantly keep the pressure on the Mexico defenders at their own half is something that we might want to work on too. With Ali Daei up in front, I am not sure if he could run that much and really put some heat on the defenders. All we need is an opportunity or a mistake made by them. I believe Arash Borhani is a perfect fit for this match. He is both quick and can put some pressure on Mexico on counter attacks.

Last and not least, USA also had problems in the left back position against Mexico. Houman Afazeli might want to look into what they did to elevate this problem. At the end of the day Mexico is beatable if we do things correctly...

(Thanks Fakhfour for the post)
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Old 02-20-2006, 06:07 AM   #3
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Re: "Discussing Mexico with Afshin Ghotbi", by Kaveh Mahjoub

Sina jaan
Thanks for your nice post. It's interesting to see that Mexico has 5 men in defence! That means that we need at least two forwards. I see Hashemian-Daei for one half and Hashemian-Borhani/Kazemian for one half. That can give us some chances, particularly on counter-attacks.
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