0456 GMT December 05, 2021
Iran Football Federation ruled out rumors surrounding reappointment of ex-Persepolis manager Branko Ivankovic as the head coach of Iran.
Some reports in Iranian newspapers in recent days had suggested the Iranian football’s governing body is considering the Croatian, who led Iran to the World Cup finals in 2006, as a replacement for his compatriot Dragan Skocic ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in June.
In an Instagram post on Friday, the Iranian federation labeled the reports as “false and baseless.”
Offering full support for the current manager, the federation added, “With 27 days to go until the World Cup qualifiers, the last thing on federation’s mind would be a change in the national team’s technical staff.”
Ivankovic, who steered the Iranian Reds to three consecutive Persian Gulf Pro League titles and a place in the 2018 AFC Champions League final, parted ways with Persepolis in 2019 to take charge of the Saudi club Al Ahli.
However, a three-month spell at the Saudi club saw Ivankovic sacked before he was named Oman head coach for the World Cup qualifiers, where his team is second in Group E.
Iran will resume its qualification campaign in Bahrain, where the Asian powerhouse will be taking on Hong Kong, Cambodia, Bahrain, and Iraq in the space of 12 days in Group C, starting June 3.
Skocic will be facing a tough task in securing a place in the final round of the qualifiers as Iran is third in the group with six points, trailing Iraq and Bahrain by five and three points respectively, albeit with a game in hand.
Under then manager Marc Wilmots, Iran got off to a flying start in its bid to secure a third successive berth in the finals, beating Hong Kong 2-0 before thrashing Cambodia 14-0 in Tehran.
However, back-to-back defeats against Bahrain (1-0) and Iraq led to the Asian powerhouse parting ways with the Belgian manager.
Eight group winners plus four best runners-up will progress to the final round of qualifiers.