0702 GMT September 18, 2021
Iran Football Federation is closing in on appointing legendary midfielder Mehdi Mahdavikia as the manager of the under-23 side, the federation chief said.
“The federation has reached a general agreement with Mahdavikia,” Shahabeddin Azizi-Khadem said on Sunday, adding, “We will be waiting for his comprehensive plan for the under-23 and youth-level teams in the coming days,” IRNA reported.
However, Azizi-Khadem added that ex-Iranian international will first have to gain the permission of German club Hamburger SV, where he is under contract as a youth coach, before he can take Iran’s job.
Having become an ultimate fan favorite during his eight seasons in Hamburger SV, Mahdavikia has dedicated his career to grassroots football since he hung up his boots in 2013, founding his own Iranian youth academy, FC Kia, in 2016.
Should Mahdavikia take the job, he will be tasked with leading Iran at the preliminary round of the AFC U23 Asian Cup in October.
Iran is pitted against host Tajikistan, Lebanon, and Nepal in Group B of the qualifiers.
Also a former player of Iranian giants Persepolis and Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt, Mahdavikia made 111 appearances in the Iranian outfit, having 13 international goals under his belt.
Considered by many as one of the best players in the history of Iranian football, former right full-back and winger was part of the Iranian team that famously qualified for at the 1998 World Cup in France, where he was on the score sheet in a memorable 2-1 victory over USA.
The Asian Footballer of the Year in 2003 also represented the country at the AFC Asian Cup in 1996 and 2004 – finishing third on both occasions – and the 2006 World Cup in Germany.