Iran appoints Iranian-American as new head coach

Iran Materials 24 February 2008 19:50 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The Iranian Football Federation (FFI) has appointed an Iranian-American as new head coach for Iran's national football team, informed sports sources in Tehran said Sunday.

According to the sources, the new coach is Afshin Qotbi, trainer of Persepolis Tehran, who has prevailed over four other local contenders for the post.

The FFI has not yet confirmed Qotbi's appointment and only said that the new coach would officially be announced Monday by FFI president Ali Kafshian.

Qotbi and Persepolis Tehran were leading the country's premier league until last week but due to a technical dispute with FIFA, six points were decucted from the team, which now ranks third.

Iran's last coach was Amir Qalehnoei, who took over the national team after the 2006 World Cup in Germany but following Iran's poor performance in last July's Asian Cup, he was dismissed.

Since then, Iran has been the only national side in Asia without a head coach and even started its World Cup qualification game with a disappointing goalless draw against Syria earlier this month. The second game will be against Kuwait next month.

Qotbi, 45, is an electrical engineering graduate from the United States, who however soon turned to his real passion which was football.

He has strong coaching credentials, including a spell at Korean side Samsung and was technical assistant to South Korea under Dutchman Guus Hiddink.

After the 2007 Asian Cup 2007, he was hired by Persepolis and soon took the capital's leading team to the top of the table where the team stood before the dispute with FIFA.

Football observers consider Qotbi as a much better option than foreign coaches.

The FFI had in the recent weeks tried to employ Portuguese Artur Jorge and Spanish Javier Clemente but both efforts failed, especially with Clemente who had even signed a contract but his main demand not to live in Iran permanently was eventually rejected by the Iranian side.