September 6 – With 75 days left until the World Cup kicks off, Carlos Queiroz has returned to coach Iran for a second spell, spelling the end of Dragan Skocic’s tenure, according to Iranian state media.
Last week, Mehdi Taj was elected as the new president of the Iranian Football Federation (IRIFF) for a four-year term on Tuesday. He ran on a ticket promising to bring back Queiroz to the national team and Taj delivered within days.
The Portuguese will once again lead Team Melli at a World Cup with Iranian state media reporting on Tuesday that the IRIFF have reached an agreement with the Portuguese.
Queiroz will succeed Dragan Skocic, who was fired and then rehired in July in a sign of the turbulence at the IRIFF. The uncertainty and political manoeuvring complicated Iran’s World Cup preparations with the IRIFF’s financial resources limited and difficulties in planning warmup friendlies because of the country’s isolation.
Queiroz however is immensely popular in Iran after leading the team to two consecutive World Cups in 2014 and 2018. They finished bottom of Group F, garnering a single point from a draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina but four years later Team Melli almost reached the knockout phase after defeating Morocco 1-0 in the opening game and drawing 1-1 with Portugal.
In Doha, Queiroz and Iran will face England, Wales and the United States. It is the group with the highest average FIFA ranking. The fixture against the United States will draw global attention because of the political tension between the two nations, much as it was at the France 98 World Cup in Lyon.
Queiroz has precious little time to prepare his team. The September window will offer the opportunity to stage friendlies but the Winter World Cup means that teams will hardly have any training time before the global finals kick off in Doha.
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