Iran sacked its national football team coach Ali Daei after its defeat by Saudi Arabia in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier. The announcement of the dismissal of Daei came in response to his lacklustre performances as coach. Iran, seeking a fourth appearance in the finals, are fourth in Group 2 with six points from five games, managing only a win and three consecutive draws.

"Ali Daei was sacked from coaching the national team in response to people's demands for his negligence in fulfilling his duty and the team's poor results in World Cup qualifiers," according to an unnamed source.

Daei's dismissal became imminent after the national team's 2-1 defeat in a home game against Saudi Arabia in front of almost 100,000 enthusiastic fans on 28 March. Daei reacted angrily when afterward local reporters questioned whether he would resign due to his poor performance to date as Iranian coach.

The former star was appointed to lead the national team in March 2008 after a months-long search for a new coach which involved a dozen top foreign names. Daei, whose career included spells at Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin, was unquestionably Iran's most famous footballer ever. He only retired fully from playing last year and until now has coached Tehran club side Saipa, who he led to the Iranian league title as a player-coach.

Daei scored a record 109 international goals in 148 appearances, outstripping greats like Pele and Ferenc Puskas, although admittedly against less demanding opponents. Daei played a part in Iran's greatest match - the 2-1 win over the United States at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™ - and was once named Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year.