(AFP) – Mar 4, 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran's world record scorer in international football Ali Daei on Tuesday admitted he was surprised by his shock appointment as the coach to rescue the flagging fortunes of the national side.
"Choosing me for the post of Team Melli coach was a surprise," Daei told his first news conference after his appointment on Sunday, the ISNA news agency reported.
"You all know how I left the Team Melli and now I have returned this way," Daei added, reiterating his bitterness over being dropped after Iran's humiliating first round exit in the 2006 World Cup.
"I love my reputation more than anything. God loves me, now I am where another coach would be in 10 years time," said the self-confident ex-Bayern Munich striker.
Daei's appointment ended a months-long coaching vacuum at the head of one of Asia's top sides which Iran had until now failed to fill despite mooting a dozen top foreign names and twice seemingly appointing a new coach.
It had been widely expected that Iran would appoint Spanish trainer Javier Clemente and when those talks fell through amid a wrangle over living conditions attention turned to Iranian-American Afshin Qotbi.
Iran's next World Cup qualifier is away agains Kuwait on March 26 and Daei will be hoping for a better performance than when the team could only manage a goaless draw against minnows Syria in their last game.
"Unfortunately discipline, which is a principle for a team, has distanced itself from the Team Melli."
"We have a big and difficult work against Kuwait. It is one of the important matches for Iran," he said.
Daei -- one of the biggest celebrities in Iran who also has his own sportwear business -- said he was open to crticism from the press as long as it was fair.
"After the World Cup some papers said that 'Daei is enjoying time on sandy beaches of Las Vegas'. But every one knows that Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert!"
Daei said he would employ two foreign assistant coaches and two Iranian ones, without revealing their names.
Copyright © 2014 AFP. All rights reserved. More »