Iran Appoint Afshin Ghotbi As National Team Coach

Team Melli have a third boss in the space of a month - and this time it's former U.S. and Los Angeles Galaxy assistant coach Afshin Ghotbi.
Afshin Ghotbi has been named as the new coach of Iran.

The 45-year-old takes over from Mohammed Mayeli Kohan, who resigned from the post on Monday after just two weeks in the job following a row between his league team Saipa and rivals Esteghlal.  

Ghotbi, an Iranian-American, led Persepolis to the league title in May 2008 before leaving the Tehran giants in September.

The former assistant of South Korea, the U.S. national team and the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, was a frontrunner for the job a month ago after Ali Daei was fired following a home defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia. 

"As our most crucial priority in the football federation, we have appointed Afshin Ghotbi. He will coach the team in its three remaining [World Cup qualifying] matches," Mehdi Taj of the Iran Football Federation (IFF) said, according to AFP.

 "A Dutch trainer will assist him," he added. 

Ghotbi has been handed a short-term contract until mid-July in which he is charged with leading Team Melli to South Africa. 

It won’t be easy. Iran are languishing in fourth place in their group, four points behind Saudi Arabia and North Korea in third and second respectively – though Iran have three games remaining, one more than their rivals.

Only the top two automatically progress to the World Cup, and the team that finishes third faces a play-off.  

Ghotbi’s first test is a tough trip to Pyongyang on June 6, where defeat would virtually end hopes of automatic qualification.