According to FIFA, the Iranian national football team is ranked 1st in Asia and 21st in the world.
Dragan Skocic has been reinstated as the coach of the Iranian National Football team, also known as Team Melli, after being dismissed less than a week ago, the Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) announced on Sunday.
Last week, the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that the 53 year old Skocic had lost his job less than four months before the start of the World Cup in Qatar.
Speculations regarding the move claim that ex-Iran captain and star striker Ali Daei refused a proposal to take over from Skocic, according to daily sports newspaper Khabar Varzeshi.
The record for most international goals in men’s football history belonged to Ali Daei, securing 109 goals for Iran. This record was then broken by Cristiano Ronaldo only last year with 111 goals.
“The Board of the Football Federation has once again emphasised on the all-round support of the technical staff of the national team, and based on this, the cooperation between the two sides will continue,” FFIRI said.
With Skocic now clinching the job as coach, the federation has appealed for unity.
“We ask that the national team players, the media, ex-players and everyone unite for the common goal to elevate the name of Iran,” member board of directors at the Iran Football Federation Ehsan Osuli said.
During the lead-up competitions to the Group B games due in approximately four months, Osuli said after a meeting of the FFIRI board of directors that there had been a “change of heart,” as per AP’s reports.
“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.”
The federation voted to sack off Skocic, who assumed his role in early 2020, on 11 July following a friendly game defeat to Algeria in June as well as reports of “divisions” within the team.
Local coaches such as Ali Daei, Javad Nekounam, Amir Ghalenoi and Afshin Ghotbi had been shortlisted to manage Iran past the group stage and into November’s World Cup.
The Croatian manager was appointed in early February 2020 to replace Belgian Marc Wilmots, who left in December 2019 due to a dispute with the federation following two consecutive defeats.
Wilmots left while the team was taking part in the second round of Asian World Cup qualifiers.
Skocic raised Iran to first place in its group, taking the national team to its sixth ever World Cup since 1978.
He bagged 15 victories out of 18 games while in charge, however dropped two of his last three games, including a 2-1 friendly loss to Algeria in Qatar last month.
Iran will kick off its FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 campaign with a game against England on 21 November, before then facing off with the United States and Wales.
The ‘Persian Leopards’ became the first Asian country to qualify for the World Cup with a 1-0 win against Iraq on 27 January in Tehran.
This year’s participation in the World Cup will be the nation’s third time in a row.