It was a music to the ears of many Iranian football fans; Miroslav Blazevic, the 76-year-old experienced Croatian manager returned to – what he described as - “his second home” after 10 years.
In a bold move by Iranian Pro League outfit Mes Kerman, former Team Melli coach Blazevic sealed a one-year contract with the relegation-threatened club.
Blazevic will also receive a bonus should he secure the team’s qualification to Asian Champions League.
However as always, a prominent foreign coach’s presence in Iran, stirred controversy among football officials.
A day after Ciro arrived in Iran, through a widely controversial decision, Iran Football Federation (IFF) committee officials set a new rule, banning any football coach’s activity over 65-years of age.
In effect, leaving the Croatian’s move in jeopardy. The new rule instantly sent shockwaves through media among the football-crazy nation.
Most evidently, in popular sport TV program 90, in which IFF officials trying to justify their “too old to coach” approach belittled Ferguson’s remarkable coaching honors, with comments such as “but old Ferguson’s team lost to 39-years old Guardiola’s team”.
The odd comments went viral within seconds, with huge negative publicity for the Federation, to the point that IFF officials delayed the enforcement of the rule. Shortly after, Blazevic officially signed his commitment to Mes club.
There are mixed reactions, albeit mostly positive, towards Ciro’s return to Iran after 10 years, even though Iranian team failed to reach the 2002 World Cup with him at helm.
His stint at other clubs may have justified Mes Kerman’s decision, considering his record in saving Croatia’s NK Osijek from relegation; the same problem Mes officials face these days.
Securing an Asian Champions League spot for the southern Iran team may be too far-fetched at this point, but the Croat can prove his worth should Mes Kerman team record a respectable season.