Thursday, 29 April 2010

Saba Qom FC (Iran)

Nestling within the city limits of the beautiful holy city of Qom are a team who were indeed born again. Starting life as Mohemat Sazi in the capital Tehran, the team saw little success, and spent most of its days pottering around the lower divisions of the Iranian league system. However, in 2002, the club was bought up by the Saba Battery Company, a commercial wing of the Iranian Ministry of Defense. immediately they had the funds to afford a few decent players, and within two years were promoted to the local top flight, the Iran Pro League.

Indeed, their rise was so meteoric that a cup win in the 2004/06 season saw them in the Asian Champions League - although they swiftly knocked out in the first round. In 2008 though, the Saba company moved them from the capital to the city of Qom, as it was decided that there were too many clubs in Tehran with tiny fanbases. In this case, doing a Milton Keynes worked in their favour, as their gates immediately rose. It was at this time that they thankfully changed their name from Saba Battery to Saba Qom. A much more becoming title, don't you think?

The same season they were notable in being the only team in the IPL who kept the same manager for the whole season! Since their second coming, they've become a solid mid-table team, making their second Champions league appearance - although seeing the same brief exit.

Perhaps their most well-known player was the prolific Ali Daei - the world's all time leading goalscorer in international matches, with 109 goals in 149 matches. This puts him a massive 25 goals ahead of his nearest rival, Hungary's Ferenc Puskás. His massive caps tally also put him at 12th in the most capped internationals list, two behind the grumpy German Lothar Matthäus. After a distinguished career in Iran, he spent the spent the turn of the century years playing in Germany, for the likes of Arminia Bielefeld, Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin, before returning home and breifly becoming the manager of the Iranian national side.

Saba's currently manager is one Rasoul Korbekandi, who eagle-eyed readers may remember from the Iran squad at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.Their current squad include Brazillian journeyman Diego José Clementino, Andrzej Bednarz - the first Pole ever to play in the IPL and the free-scoring Fereydoon Fazli.

With the IPL season drawing to a close at the time of writing, Saba are sitting in 7th place in a close league, hoping for a last push for a Champions League place. Let's hope the Batterys have got the power to make it!

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