Iran national team has been searching for Dragan Skocic’s replacement after relieving him from his post.
Iran Football Federation (FFIRI) has reportedly dismissed Croatian boss, Dragan Skocic earlier this week despite previously announcing him as the head coach of the team in World Cup 2022. The 53-year old boss actually had impressive winning record with team Melli with 15 victories in 18 matches since taking over the post from the former Belgium manager, Marc Wilmots in February 2020. Serdar Azmoun and Co were also one of the first teams to secure the berth in Qatar 2022 earlier as well as the first AFC team to seal their place in the final round. However, Skocic’s side suffered two defeats in their last three games, including a 2-1 loss against Algeria.
At the moment, FFIRI are pondering a handful of candidates, two of whom had experience of taking charge of the team before. They are under pressure to pick the right figure to guide Iran with only four months left to get ready. Team Melli has been seeded in a tough group with England, USA and Wales in the upcoming world cup. Here are those names on the list:
- Amir Ghalenoei. He is the former Iran boss in Asian Cup 2007 and was only at the helm for less than a year with ten wins and one loss in 17 games. Iran failed to progress to Asian Cup semifinal after being beaten by South Korea on penalties under his reign. In the clubs, the 58-year old manager has won five domestic league with Esteghlal (three times) and Sepahan (twice). His best performance in Asian Champions League was with Esteghlal in 2014 when they progressed to the semi final. Ghalenoei is currently in charge of Gol Gohar.
- Ali Daei. The former captain in 1990s to early 2000s was well-known as the prolific striker during his playing days, including five-year stints in Bundesliga with Arminia Biefeld, Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin. He was once named the head coach for Team Melli from 2008 to 2009. Unfortunately, his great goal scoring record as a player did not help while he was guiding the team. Iran had the poor performance in the world cup 2010 qualifiers with only one win in five fixtures, leading to his sacking. Daei’s best achievements as a manager are three Hazfi Cup (Iranian Cup) titles with Persepolis (2010 and 2011) and Naft Tehran (2017), plus one Iran Pro League trophy with Saipa in 2007. The 53-year old boss also brought them to qualify to the round of eight in AFC Champions League 2008, which was also Daei’s best form in Asian top tier competition. It is also his last team to manage before being relieved in 2019. Daei has not been in the dugout ever since.
- Javad Nekounam. The former central midfielder was the key man during Iran’s world cup campaign in 2006 and 2014. Compared to the previous candidates, he is less decorated manager. Yet, the former Osasuna man has won two important silverwares, Hazfi Cup and Iranian Super Cup 2021, with the dark horse side in Iranian top flight, Foolad. He has been in command of the club since 2019 and managed to guide them finish third, sixth and fifth respectively in the final standings. Previously, he led FC Nassaji Mazandaran to get promoted to Persian Gulf Pro League (Iranian’s current top tier) for the first time in 24 years back in 2018 plus ended their debut campaign in tenth place in 2018/19 season.