By Farrokh Hesabi

IPL's halfway point in review

January 15, 2022 - 12:48

TEHRAN - With Iran Professional League (IPL) reaching its halfway point, Tehran Times reviews talking points and surprises of the first half of the 2021/22 season.

Esteghlal defeated Naft Masjed Solyman 3-0 on Matchday 15 to claim the unofficial half-season championship. The Blues are chasing to win the trophy after nine seasons. In doing so, Farhad Majidi's side went unbeaten the league's first half of the season.

Persepolis, the winners of IPL's five consecutive seasons, ended in second place on the table. However, Yahya Golmohammadi's side are determined to continue their winning streak to the six, the popular number for the Red's fan.

Gol Gohar Sirjan were issued three 3-0 losses for fielding Eric Baboue Bagnama, a Gabonese player, failing to meet the pre-requirement of playing four or more international matches with his country's national team.

This decision favored three teams, namely Sepahan, Peykan, and Esteghlal, who earned three, three, and two points, respectively. Persepolis officials objected to the verdict of the Disciplinary Committee of the Iranian football federation. They believed that the decision hurt them in the title race because their significant rivals, Esteghlal and Sepahan, were rewarded what they called undeserved points.

Sepahan, another title chaser, have dropped points in some crucial matches. Four defeats for Moharam Navidkia's team are not acceptable, but nine victories out of 15 is about normal for the Yellows.

Aluminum Arak are a cause for celebration in the Iranian league. A competitive provincial team with limited resources in such a lofty position can be considered a measure of the league's success.

Foolad, a combination of youth and experienced players and a fine coach Javad Nekounam, remain one of the IPL's most watchable sides, but a bit like Sepahan, the shaky defense has been known to let them down.

Foreign players dominate the top of the goals standings. Godwin Mensha (Gol Gohar), Arthur Yamga (Esteghlal), and Luciano Pereira (Foolad) are the top scorers of the IPL, primarily thanks to goals scored by penalties.

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