Iran’s new head coach Dragan Skocic believes the Asian powerhouse is not “on the right track” in its campaign to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup but he eyes a sixth qualification for Iran to the biggest stage of international football.
The 51-year-old Croatian replaced Belgian Marc Wilmots on February 6 who parted ways with Iran following a 2-1 loss to Iraq at the World Cup Asian qualifiers last November.
“I think Team Melli are not on the right track and I want to change the situation. From now on, I will be in contact with the clubs 24 hours a day to reach our goal. I am familiar with the Iranian players and know the way they think,” Skocic said in his first press conference as the Iranian manager on Saturday.
Former San’at Naft head coach also said that he wants to “bring an injection of positive energy – something the team and players desperately need. We want to celebrate qualifying for the World Cup for the sixth time, that’s why I am here.”
Skocic will be facing a tough task in leading Iran to the final round of the qualifiers as his side currently sits third in Group C of the qualifiers with six points, trailing Iraq and Bahrain by five and three points respectively, albeit with a game in hand.
“The team need more organization but all of us must help the team advance to the next stage. I am not here for personal gain and if Team Melli qualify for the 2022 World Cup, it will a big honor for all of us,” added the Croatian.
When asked about his tactical approach in his new job, Skocic said, “I am a hyperactive coach and like attacking football but we also are ready to play defensive football. Before that, we need good relationship between the players and coaching staff. The good relationships will help boost team morale and improve collaboration at work.”
In Skocic’s first official match on the bench, Iran will face Hong Kong at home on March 26 before playing away to Cambodia five days later.
However, Skocic’s two decisive contests will come in early June when his team squares off against top-two teams of the group Bahrain and Iraq at home.
Eight group winners plus best four runners-up will advance to the next round of the qualifiers.