Iran coach

Following a “change of heart,” Iran reappoints an expelled football coach

The Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) confirmed that Dragan Skocic had been restored as the head coach of the Iranian National Football team, better known as Team Melli, after being sacked about a week ago. Less than four months before the FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicked off, the 53-year-old Skocic lost his position as head coach, according to a statement from the officially approved Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) last week.

According to rumors surrounding the move, former captain of Iran and top goal scorer Ali Daei reportedly rejected a proposal to replace Skocic. Daily sports publication Khabar Varzeshi provided this information. With 109 goals scored for Iran, Ali Daei once held the record for the highest number of goals scored for a single country in men’s football history. Cristiano Ronaldo only surpassed this record in 2021 with 111 goals.

According to FFIRI, “The Board of the Football Federation has once again emphasized the all-around support of the technical staff of the national team, and based on this, the cooperation between the two sides will continue.” The federation has pleaded for harmony as Skocic has officially been hired as the head coach.

Ehsan Osuli, a representative of the board of executives at the Iran Football Federation, said, “We ask that the national team players, the media, ex-players, and everyone unite for the common goal to elevate the name of Iran.”

Following a meeting of the FFIRI executive board, Osuli reportedly stated that there had been a “change of heart” during the events leading up to the Group B games, which are scheduled to take place in about four months. “The outcome of the meeting is that Dragan Skocic is the head coach of Iran’s national team and will continue to be so,” Osuli said. “He has a contract until the end of the 2023 Asian Cup.”

Ali Daei, Javad Nekounam, Amir Ghalenoi, and Afshin Ghotbi were among the local candidates chosen to lead Iran beyond the group stage and into the Tournament in November.

The Belgian Marc Wilmots, who left the team in December 2019 after two straight losses due to a disagreement with the federation, was replaced by Skocic as Head Coach at the beginning of February 2020.

While the team was competing in the second round of Asian World Cup qualifications, Wilmots left. Iran qualified for its sixth World Cup since 1978 because Skocic boosted the team to the top spot in its group. While in charge, he amassed 15 victories from 18 contests, although he lost two of his last three games, including a 2-1 friendly defeat to Algeria in Qatar last month.

 Iran’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 campaign will begin on November 21 with a match against England, followed by games against the United States and Wales.

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