May 30, 2023

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What made Esteghlal different after almost a decade

What made Esteghlal different after almost a decade – Tehran Times

TEHRAN – Ending a nine-year drought for a club considered one of Asia’s most decorated teams, Esteghlal won the 2021/22 Iran Professional League (IPL) crown on Saturday following a win against Foolad.

A match with few clear-cut chances finished 2-1 after the final whistle, meaning the Blues established themselves as the new champions of Iranian football.

The wait for an Iranian championship, nearly one decade in, was too much for some of the Blues’ fans to contain themselves.

Hundreds of fans stormed the streets around Iran even before the final whistle of Esteghlal’s game with Foolad. In social media, hundreds became thousands soon after that, when Esteghlal officially secured the point which needed to give them an unassailable nine-point lead with three games left.

There are various reasons for this championship. Farhad Majidi’s side won the league in an unbeaten run and memorable season. Here are some talking points from Esteghlal’s IPL triumph.

Esteghlal’s management role in this season’s success is undeniable. Ever since Mostafa Ajorlou came to Esteghlal, the Blues’ problems have been reduced to a minimum. Let’s not forget that before his presence, the Blues were in crisis in terms of the club management.

In his third spell in charge of Esteghlal, Majidi succeeded in making this team the league champions in a fantastic run. The Blues legend became a calmer coach on touchline comparing his previous two periods when he had the lead role in Esteghlal. His behavior, decisions, and reactions are no longer emotional. He supported his players even when his team was not getting good results and created a good atmosphere in his dressing room.

*Consistency and quality
Majidi’s consistency in selection helped his side’s consistency in performance. The right wing-back and one of the three – or four – central defender spots were the only areas of the team to undergo regular rotation throughout the season. Other areas of the team benefited from the regularity of selection.

*Rivals’ poor performance
Esteghlal grew into the season after a shaky start. Their league form undoubtedly changed by a disappointing removal from the Asian Champions League after having their licenses withdrawn by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The elimination helped them to focus on the domestic games. The poor performance of Persepolis, the defending champions, and other contenders for the league title also helped Esteghlal find their way to the league title easier.

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