By Reza Hamidi
The Iranian national football team could qualify for the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup, which is due to be held in Qatar in December, the team’s new manager Dragan Skocic has said.
In comments reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency, Mr. Skocic, who was appointed as the Iranian national football team’s manager in February, said: “I hope to return to Iran before the start of the premier league matches. However, we have to wait and see how things develop. I am still waiting for my visa.”
Before being appointed manager of the national football team, Skocic coached several Iranian teams in the Premier League and the First League, including Malavan Bandar Anzali Football Club (2013-15), Foolad Khuzestan Football Club (2014-16), Khooneh Be Khooneh Football Club (2018-19) and Sanat Naft Abadan Football Club (2019).
“It is easy to draft and schedule a training program for the Iranian national football team, but the conditions have to be right,” Skocic, a former member of Croatian Football Club Rijeka, noted. “The COVID-19 lockdown has disrupted the training program, but the players will not have serious problems once we return to a good practice regime.”
“I know very little about Iran’s opponents in its group, especially Iraq’s national football team. The head coach of the Iraqi team is an old friend of mine,” Skocic explained. “Most teams are in the same situation right now. We have time to prepare for the match against Iraq. I also know little about the Bahrain national football team. However, that is not important. We have plenty of time to prepare for all the forthcoming matches.”
“At first everyone in Croatia was concerned about the coronavirus pandemic,” Skocic, who lives in Rijeka, said. “However, the situation has improved significantly. I live only 70 kilometers from Italy, which is one of the worst affected countries in the world. However, we have had only four reported cases in Croatia in recent days.”
“I have only been in touch with the Iranian Football Federation,” Skocic explained. “I know everyone expects a lot from the team. The players also believe they will qualify for the cup. We have a talented team, and despite its two losses, it can reach the 2020 FIFA World Club Cup.”
This article was translated and adapted from Persian by Fardine Hamidi.