TEHRAN – Iranian football expert, Jalal Cheraghpour, believes that Dragan Skocic made Iran national team qualification to the 2022 World Cup look easy, however he questioned the Croatian coach’s ability to handle complex issues of the World Cup.
There are discussions that the football federation must replace Skocic with a big name on the bench of the ‘Persian Leopards’.
“In the second round of the World Cup qualifying matches, Iran were in such a bad situation that no coach, not even the Iranian ones, was willing to accept the leadership of this team,” said Cheraghpour in his interview with Tehran Times.
“In a situation where it was not at all clear what the fate of the national team would be and whether there was a possibility of success for the team or not, the football federation took Skocic from the Sanat Naft Abadan team overnight and selected him as the national team coach. He did his job in the best way possible.
“Now the question is why at that time no one accepted the risk of coaching the national team? And why today a lot of people are criticizing Skocic?
“Contrary to many of Skocic’s current critics, I believe that the national team are no bigger than Skocic, because we qualified for the 2022 Qatar World Cup for his charisma, patience, intelligence, and tactical decisions,” he added
Iran have been drawn in Group B along with England, the U.S. and either Ukraine, Wales or Scotland.
Cheraghpour then talked about the World cup.
“The big question is whether Skocic is capable of facing the complexities of the World Cup. In Asia, we faced teams such as Bahrain and Iraq, but in the World Cup we should face England and European teams.
“We struggled in both games against South Korea in the qualifiers. This is a warning sign that if a team are a little better than South Korea, how will we face against them?
“In the current situation, we can say that teams like the United States, Wales /Ukraine/Scotland are better than Korea, and this is a big challenge for the Iranian national team. The correct question is this: is the size of our national team coach in line with these complexities?
“I believe that Skocic should stay in the national team because he has lived with this team for two years and is familiar with the players and their spirit. Bringing in a new coach means wasting time,” he concluded.
Iran, No. 21 in the current FIFA world rankings, will kick off the 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar against fifth-ranked England on Nov. 21 before facing Wales/Scotland/Ukraine on Nov. 25. The Iranians will close out Group B play on Nov. 30 versus the U.S. (No. 15 in FIFA ranking).