Iranian Afshin Ghotbi became Iran's third coach in a month when he was named as successor to Mohammad Mayelikohan, whose reign lasted just two weeks, the ISNA news agency reported.
Mayelikohan resigned on Tuesday over a row which erupted after a match between his former club Saipa and another Tehran side, Esteghlal. Mayelikohan was appointed to try and revive Iran's faltering 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying campaign after former coach Ali Daei was sacked following the team's defeat against Saudi Arabia in an Asian qualifier in late March.
"As our most crucial priority in the football federation, we have appointed Afshin Ghotbi. He will coach the team in its three remaining (qualifying) matches," Mehdi Taj an Iranian Federation official was quoted as saying. "A dutch trainer will assist him," he added without naming him.
With Ghotbi as a coach, club side Persepolis were crowned Iranian premier league champions last year. He previously worked in the USA before a long stint assisting successive Dutch coaches Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat and then Pim Verbeek with the Korea Republic national team.
Despite spending most of his life in the United States, Ghotbi has insisted he is first and foremost an Iranian. "If you are born in a country and spent your childhood there you are from that country. I am always an Iranian," he said in June.
South African aims
Iran are trying to reach their fourth FIFA World Cup finals, but they are currently in fourth place in Group B qualifying. Korea Republic top the section with 11 points from five games, followed by their northern neighbours, Korea DPR, on 10 points from six games with Saudi Arabia in third, also on 10 points from six.
Iran are fourth with six points from five matches after only one win and three draws. The so-called Team Melli have an uphill road in securing a place in the South African finals, with two away matches on the Korean peninsula and a home match with the UAE. But they are banking on Ghotbi's tenure in Kore to make it through.
Asia has four automatic berths in the finals in South Africa while the third-place teams in the two final Asian qualifiers will play each other for the right to take on Oceania zone victors New Zealand for a place at the finals. Iran appeared at the 1978, 1998 and 2006 FIFA Cup finals.