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Foolad Mobarakeh Sepahan Sport Club (Persian: باشگاه ورزشی فولاد مبارکه سپاهان‎) commonly known as Sepahan, is an Iranian football club based in Isfahan.[1] They compete in Iran's top-level league known as Persian Gulf Pro League and with 5 championships, they have won the most pro league titles among the Iranian clubs (2002–03, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2014–15). In 2002–03 season, they became the first non-Tehran based team to win the Iranian League title. They are also the first and the only Iranian football club who won three consecutive titles in Iranian Football League history.

Sepahan Sport Club
Sepahan New Logo.svg
Full nameFoolad Mobarakeh Sepahan Sport Club
Nickname(s)yellow storm
Founded5 October 1953; 65 years ago (1953-10-05)
GroundNaghsh-e Jahan Stadium
Capacity75,000
OwnerMobarakeh Steel Company
PresidentMasoud Tabesh
ManagerAmir Ghalenoei
LeaguePersian Gulf Pro League
2018–19Persian Gulf Pro League, 2nd
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Sepahan have been the most successful football club in Iran since the establishment of Iran Pro League in 2001, with five IPL championships and four Hazfi Cup titles. They are also the first Iranian club who reached the AFC Champions League final in 2007 and qualified to play in the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup at the same year.

Sepahan Football Club is usually known for its successful and consistent management as well as its youth academy in Iranian football system.By winning multiple tiles since 2003, they have succeeded to end the complete dominance of two famous clubs, Persepolis and Esteghlal, in Iranian football system. The Club is the football division of Foolad Mobarakeh Sepahan Sport Club and is owned by Mobarakeh Steel Company

Contents

Club historyEdit

Pre RevolutionEdit

 
Shahin Isfahan Club

In 1953, with the help of Iran national football team player Mahmoud Hariri the Shahin Isfahan football club was created. This club was one of the teams attached to the more popular and successful Shahin F.C. of Tehran. In 1963 Shahin as the representative of Isfahan Province became champions of Iran after a 1–1 draw against Tehran XI. In 1967 due to the problems that arose in the Shahin F.C. organization in Tehran, the Isfahan branch was forced to cease operations. The club changed its name to Sepahan. The club participated in the Takht Jamshid Cup league from 1974 to 1978. In the club's first season in the Takht Jamshid Cup they finished in 10th place ahead of city rivals Zob Ahan.

Post RevolutionEdit

After the Revolution, they played in the local Isfahan leagues for many years until 1993. That year the club was purchased by the Siman-e-Sepahan (Sepahan Cement) factory of Isfahan. It participated in the Azadegan League until the year 2000, when Foolad Mobarekeh (Steel Mill of Mobarekeh Isfahan) bought the team from the Siman factory. The team now plays under the name of Foolad Mobarakeh Sepahan, and enjoys very good support by the club board, and has been able to attain a respectable fan base in its hometown.

Success yearsEdit

The club was able to demonstrate its worth when it captured the league title in the 2002–03 season of the IPL, and qualified for the AFC Champions League tournament with Farhad Kazemi. It also won the Hazfi Cup in 2004 and was able to qualify for another season of the ACL competition, though the club did not have much success in the continental tournaments of ACL 2004 and 2005.

 
Sepahan in a match against Homa during 1975–76 season

With Luka Bonačić, Sepahan was able to once again win the Hazfi Cup on 22 September 2006. With this win, they gained Iran's final and second spot in the AFC Champions League 2007. They were impressive in continental stage as they finished top of their group and defeated Kawasaki Frontale of Japan and Al Wahda of the UAE to reach the final of the newly established continental tournament for the first time. Although they lost the final to Urawa Red Diamonds on aggregate, by reaching the final, Sepahan became the first Iranian club to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup.

In the opening match of the FIFA Club World Cup 2007, Sepahan defeated Waitakere United of New Zealand to reach the quarter-final where they met Urawa Red Diamonds for a spot in the semifinal match against AC Milan. Urawa Reds managed to defeat Sepahan for the second time in just one month, reaching the semifinals of the FIFA Club World Cup.

By winning the Hazfi Cup once again in 2007, Sepahan also qualified for the AFC Champions League 2008, but could not repeat their success of 2007.

Sepahan has qualified for the AFC Champions League for the third consecutive time in 2009, coming as the Runners-up in Persian Gulf Cup 2007-08. Sepahan lost the title by only one point to Persepolis F.C., who beat them 2–1 in the last match of the season with a winner six minutes into second half injury time. They tried to improve the team by sacking the Brazilian coach Viera and replacing him with the German coach Firat but they had a difficult season where they could not win anything in the 2008–09 season and changed the coach three times.

In the next season Sepahan hired Turkish and former Iran's assistant coach Engin Firat, but he was fired after getting poor result in the league, and Hossein Charkhabi who was Sepahan Novin head coach at that time replaced Firat. Despite getting good result with the team Charkahbi was replaced once again with Farhad Kazemi who won the league title with Sepahan in the 2002–03 season. Finally Sepahan finished 4th in the league and qualified for the 2010 AFC Champions League Group stage. In the next season the club hired former Iran and Esteghlal head coach Amir Ghalenoei, at the helm of Sepahan's 2010 Season, the club sealed a championship title two weeks before the end of the season with a 2–2 tie against F.C. Aboomoslem.[2]

In the 2010–11 Persian Gulf Cup, Sepahan dominated the league after a slow start and practically won the title two weeks before the season end. They also advanced to the knock out stage of the ACL competition, after finishing on top of the table in the group stage. Their group was arguably the group of death, consisting of Al-Hilal, Al Gharafa and Al-Jazira. They won their third championship and became the most successful team in Iran Pro League.

Kranjčar EraEdit

They also repeated their league title in 2011–12 season, this time with Croatian manager, Zlatko Kranjčar. Sepahan also made it to the quarter-finals of 2012 AFC Champions League after defeating the fellow Iranian club Esteghlal.

In 2013 however, Sepahan was placed in Group C of the 2013 AFC Champions League and was unable to get past the 2013 AFC Champions League group stage. Being placed in the same group as Al-Gharafa Sports Club of Qatar, Al-Ahli SC of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates' Al Nasr SC, they could not qualify as one of the top two teams of their group. Sepahan started the 2013 AFC Champions League with a great win at home against Al Nasr SC, however heading for an away game against Al-Gharafa Sports Club in Qatar, Sepahan only returned home humiliated by the Qatari team in a 3–1 lost game. That was not the end of Sepahan's poor performance in the AFC Champions League. About three weeks after their loss in Qatar, Sepahan hosted Al-Ahli SC at Foolad Shahr Stadium, losing poorly once again but this time with a score of 4–2. Sepahan still had a chance after those two losses, but all hopes were lost once they lost in front of the Saudi giants again, this time with a score of 4–1 thus having them bid farewell to the 2013 AFC Champions League.

 
Sepahan players celebrating their fifth league title in 2015

In the 2013–14 Iran Pro League season, Sepahan finished 4th, thus missing out on the AFC Champions League for the first time in five years. At the end of the season, Croatian manager Zlatko Kranjčar announced that he would not be returning for the 2014–2015 season. Sepahan also struggled in the Champions League as well, failing to make it past the group stage with a 1–0 loss to Al Hilal on the final match day. After originally announcing he was leaving the club, Sepahan announced that they had extended the contract of Kranjčar for another season.

Faraki YearsEdit

Sepahan started the 2014–15 season with three wins in a row. However, Sepahan did not win their next four matches. Kranjčar resigned on 8 September 2014 and was replaced with former Foolad manager Hossein Faraki.

On 15 May 2015, with a 2–0 Sepahan victory over Saipa and Tractor Sazi drawing 3–3 with Naft Tehran, Sepahan won their fifth league title with a one-point margin over runner up Tractor Sazi. With the league victory, Sepahan returned to the AFC Champions League after a one-year absence.

On November 12, 2015 Hossein Faraki left Sepahan for personal problems. Faraki left by saying “Things just don’t seem to be working out for me and I decided to quit my job in the team, I have nothing more to say because I think Sepahan needs concentration at the moment since they will play in Iran’s Hazfi Cup on Thursday,” [3][4]

Štimac and Veisi yearsEdit

After Hossein Faraki's resignation, the club signed former Croatian national team manager Igor Štimac. Igor Štimac won his first game against Naft Tehran, but after not winning a game in 10 weeks made the situations harder for Sepahan. Sepahan got knocked out of the Hazfi Cup by their rivals, Zob Ahan in penalties at the semi-final. Sepahan also went out of the AFC Champions League after losing five times in the first round. Igor Štimac resigned as Sepahan head coach on 20 April 2016, after a run of unsuccessful results which led the league champions Sepahan to end up in 11th place and out of both season's cups, Hazfi Cup and AFC Champions League.

Before the start of the 2016–17 season, Abdollah Veisi who had led Esteghlal Khuzestan to the league title, was announced as the new manager of Sepahan but sepahans poor results continued so they announced Zlatko Kranjčar as their new manager. Sepahan finished the season in the 5th place.

Reserve teamEdit

Sepahan is also one of the clubs in Iranian football to have a senior reserve team, Foolad Sepahan Novin F.C., that as of the 2007/08 season, participates in 3rd Division and the Hazfi Cup. The reserve team was promoted to the Iran Pro League from the Azadegan League, but was not allowed to participate due to Fifa's regulations about two teams from the same club playing in the same league.

RivalriesEdit

Isfahan DerbyEdit

Main articles: Isfahan Derby

The Nagsh-e- Jahan derby is a football match played annually in of Isfahan, Iran, between the two rival professional teams of the city: Zob Ahan F.C. and Sepahan F.C.. Naqsh-e Jahan is an important square in old centrum of Isfahan.

According to Iranian football journalist Afshin Afshar, the competition is one of the most popular annual football events in Iran.[5] The Isfahan derby goes back to the 1970s, when Zob Ahan F.C. and Sepahan F.C. faced each other in Takht Jamshid Cup seasons (1974/75, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1977/78). Their rivalry resumed in the 1990s when they faced each other in Azadegan League seasons (1993/94, 1996/97, 1997/98) and from then on the two met each other twice a year.

Tehran rivalriesEdit

Main articles: Esteghlal–Sepahan rivalry
Main articles: Persepolis–Sepahan rivalry

Esteghlal–Sepahan and Persepolis–Sepahan rivalries are the two important Iran Football Rivalries played between Sepahan and two Tehran based football clubs: Esteghlal and Persepolis.

StadiumEdit

The Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Isfahan, Iran that is home ground of Sepahan. It is currently used for football matches. The stadium was built in 2003 and holds 45,000 in a three-tier configuration. The first phase finished in 2003 and they have decided to finish the second phase which is the first floor of the stadium. It was started in 2007 and was meant to be finished by 2008, but construction continued until summer 2016. The final capacity of the stadium will be 75,000. Sepahan's second home ground is Foolad Shahr Stadium that is the home ground of Zob Ahan F.C. too. Some of Sepahan's matches are held in that stadium.

Season-by-seasonEdit

For details on seasons, see List of Sepahan F.C. seasons

Season Div. Pos. Hazfi Cup Asia
2001–02 IPL 9th Semi-Final - -
2002–03 IPL Champions Semi-Final - -
2003–04 IPL 6th Champions ACL Group stage
2004–05 IPL 10th 1/8 Final ACL Group stage
2005–06 IPL 7th Champions - -
2006–07 PGC 5th Champions ACL Runner Up
2007–08 PGC 2nd Quarter-Final ACL Group stage
2008–09 PGC 4th 1/8 Final ACL Group stage
2009–10 PGC Champions 1/8 Final ACL Group stage
2010–11 PGC Champions Quarter-Final ACL Quarter-Final
2011–12 PGC Champions Round of 32 ACL Quarter-Final
2012–13 PGC 3rd Champions ACL Group stage
2013–14 PGC 4th Round of 32 ACL Group stage
2014–15 PGPL Champions Round of 32 - -
2015–16 PGPL 11th Semi-Final ACL Group stage
2016–17 PGPL 5th Semi-Final - -
2017–18 PGPL 14th Round of 32 - -
2018–19 PGPL 2nd - -

All-time tableEdit

Competition First match Last match Starting round Final position Record
Pld W D L GF GA GD Win %
Takht Jamshid Cup 26 April 1971 20 August 1978 1971 11th 126 28 45 53 87 133 −46 022.22
Azadegan League 26 July 1991 09 April 2001 1991 4th 256 93 87 76 342 246 +96 036.33
Persian Gulf Pro League 2 November 2001 27 April 2018 3 November 2001 3rd 522 230 166 126 709 500 +209 044.06
Total 904 351 298 255 1,138 879 +259 038.83

Last updated: 16 August 2018 (2018-08-16).

Source: Competitions

Club honoursEdit

DomesticEdit

AsianEdit

  Runners-up (1): 2007

PlayersEdit

First-team squadEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1   GK Payam Niazmand
2   DF Hassan Jafari
5   DF Ezzatollah Pourghaz
6   MF Mehdi Kiani (Vice Captain)
7   DF Saeid Aghaei U25
8   MF Rasoul Navidkia (Captain)
9   FW Sajjad Shahbazzadeh
10   FW Mehrdad Mohammadi
11   MF Bakhtiar Rahmani
12   MF Reza Dehghani U21
14   MF Milad Sarlak U25
17   MF Jalaleddin Alimohammadi
18   FW Mohammad Ebrahimi
20   DF Mohammad Iranpourian
21   MF Mohammad Karimi U23
22   GK Amir Hossein Nikpour U21
No. Position Player
23   FW Ali Khosravi U23
25   FW Ali Ghorbani
30   MF Mohsen Mosalman
33   DF Mohammad Moslemipour U23
36   GK Ali Keykhosravi U21
37   MF Mohammadreza Ekhlasi U23
38   MF Yasin Salmani U21
39   MF Sepehr Shahin U21
44   DF Khaled Shafiei
50   GK Shahab Adeli U23
66   DF Mohammadreza Mehdizadeh
70   MF Hamed Bahiraei U25
77   MF Vladimir Koman
78   DF Mehdi Rahimi U21
88   FW Kiros Stanlley
99   DF Siavash Yazdani
  • [U21 = Under 21 year player | U23 = Under 23 year player| U25 = Under 25 year player]

For recent transfers, see List of Iranian football transfers winter 2018–19.

Loan listEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
  GK Mehdi Amini U23 (at Paykan until June 2019)
  DF Davoud Rajabi U23 (at Gol Reyhan Alborz until June 2019)
  MF Mohammad Papi U21 (at Naft Masjed Soleyman until June 2019)
  FW Reza Mirzaei U23 (at Foolad until June 2019)
  FW Iman Zakizadeh U23 (at Gol Reyhan Alborz until June 2019)

Former playersEdit

For details on former players, see Category:Sepahan players.

Notable playersEdit

See: List of Sepahan players

Managerial staffEdit

 
Amir Ghalenoei, the current head coach of the club

[6]

Current managerial staffEdit

Position Name
Manager   Amir Ghalenoei
First team coach   Miguel Teixeira
Assistant coaches   Ghasem Zaghinejad
  Saeed Alhoei
  Jalal Omidian
Goalkeepers coach   Rui Tavares
Fitness trainer   Bayaz Pourmami
Doctor   Mohammad Rashadi
Doctor assistant   Asghar Majidikia
Physiotherapist   Ali Khorami
Masseurs   Hossein Afshardoost
  Majid Fazlollahi
  Hamed Bateni
Administrative manager   Reza Fatahi
Executive manager   Reza Fatahi

Head coachesEdit

Below is a list of Sepahan coaches from 1953 until the present day.[7][8][9]

Name Nationality Years
Mahmoud Hariri   1953–1960
Technical Commission 1960–1970
Mahmoud Yavari   1970–1978
Zdravko Rajkov   1978
Mahmoud Yavari   1978–1980
Masoud Tabesh   1980–1993
Firouz Karimi   1993–1994
Nasser Hejazi   1994–1995
Mahmoud Yavari   1995–1996
Rasoul Korbekandi   1996–1998
Mehdi Monajati   1998–1999
Hamid Nadimian   1999–2001
Stanko Poklepović   2001–2002
Farhad Kazemi   2002–2005
Stanko Poklepović   2005
Edson Tavares   2005–2006
Luka Bonačić   2006–2008
Jorvan Vieira   2008
Engin Firat   2008
Hossein Charkhabi   2008
Farhad Kazemi   2008–2009
Amir Ghalenoei   2009–2011
Luka Bonačić   2011
Zlatko Kranjčar   2011–2014
Hossein Faraki   2014–2015
Igor Štimac   2015–2016
Ghasem Zaghinejad*   2016
Abdollah Veisi   2016–2017
Zlatko Kranjčar   2017–2018
Mansour Ebrahimzadeh   2018
Amir Ghalenoei   2018–

Club officialsEdit

Position Name
President Masoud Tabesh
Vice President TBD
Chairman of the Board Manouchehr Nikfar
Treasurer Ali Reza Shafiei
Trade and Marketing Manager Hamidreza Keshavarzian
Supreme Advisor Morteza Lachiani
Media and International Officer Hamed Asfa
Public Relation Hamid Bagheri
Academy manager Ghasesm Zaghinejad
Media presenter Siamak Ghelichkhani

List of Sepahan recordsEdit

FIFA Club World Cup participationEdit

FIFA Club World Cup History
Year Round Score Result Scorers
2007 Play-off Sepahan 3 – 1   Waitakere United Win Emad Mohammed   3'4'
Abdul-Wahab   47'
2007 Quarterfinals Sepahan 1 – 3   Urawa Red Diamonds Loss Karimi   80'

Top scorers by seasonEdit

Season Player   in League Player   in whole season
2001–02   Edmond Bezik 6
2002–03   Edmond Bezik 13
2003–04   Rasoul Khatibi 8   Rasoul Khatibi 14
2004–05   Rasoul Khatibi 14   Rasoul Khatibi 17
2005–06   Rasoul Khatibi 10   Rasoul Khatibi 11
2006–07   Emad Mohammed Ridha 9   Emad Mohammed Ridha 12
2007–08   Mahmoud Karimi 9   Mahmoud Karimi 13
2008–09   Emad Mohammed Ridha 14   Emad Mohammed Ridha 16
2009–10   Emad Mohammed Ridha 19   Ibrahima Touré 20
2010–11   Ibrahima Touré 18   Ibrahima Touré 24
2011–12   Emad Mohammed Ridha 9   Bruno Correa 12
2012–13   Mohammad Reza Khalatbari 13   Xhevahir Sukaj 16
2013–14   Mehdi Sharifi 8   Mehdi Sharifi 12
2014–15   Mehdi Sharifi 12   Mehdi Sharifi 12
2015–16   Mohammad Reza Khalatbari
  Luciano Chimba
4   Luciano Chimba
  Mehdi Sharifi
6
2016–17   Mehrdad Mohammadi
  Masoud Hassanzadeh
7   Mehrdad Mohammadi
  Masoud Hassanzadeh
  Jalaleddin Alimohammadi
7
2017–18   Sasan Ansari 11   Sasan Ansari 11

Players on international cupsEdit

Cup Players
  1978 FIFA World Cup   Ali Shojaei
  Bahram Mavaddat
  2006 FIFA World Cup   Moharram Navidkia
  Rasoul Khatibi
     2007 AFC Asian Cup   Hadi Aghily
  2009 FIFA Confederations Cup   Abdul-Wahab Abu Al-Hail
  Emad Mohammed
  2011 AFC Asian Cup   Ehsan Hajsafi
  Hadi Aghily
  Jalal Hosseini
  Khosro Heydari
  Mehdi Rahmati
  Mohsen Bengar
  2014 FIFA World Cup   Ehsan Hajsafi
  Rahman Ahmadi
  2015 AFC Asian Cup   Ehsan Hajsafi
  Voria Ghafouri
  2019 AFC Asian Cup   Payam Niazmand

SponsorshipEdit

Shirt sponsors and manufacturersEdit

Sepahan League Sponsors
Period Kit Manufacturer Shirt Sponsor
2007–08   Uhlsport Mobarakeh Steel Company
2008–09
2009–10   Lotto
2010–11
2011–12
2012–13
2013–14   Uhlsport
2014–15
2015–16   Joma
2016–17   Uhlsport
2017–18   Peak Mobarakeh Steel Company / Snapp
2018–19   Start Mobarakeh Steel Company / Taban Air / Hamrah-e-Avval

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit