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Iran reinstates national soccer team coach fired 6 days ago

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Just six days after dismissing Dragan Skocic as head coach, an Iranian Football Federation (IFF) spokesman announced Sunday that the Croatian will lead Iran into November’s World Cup after all.

In the latest episode of a chaotic build-up to Group B games against England, the United States and Wales, Ehsan Osuli said after a meeting of the IFF board of directors that there had been a change of heart.

“The outcome of the meeting is that Dragan Skocic is the head coach of Iran’s national team and will continue to be so,” Osuli said. “He has a contract until the end of the 2023 Asian Cup.”

The federation voted to fire Skocic, who took the job in early 2020, on July 11 after a friendly defeat to Algeria in June and reports of divisions in the team.

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Local coaches such as Ali Daei, Javad Nekounam, Amir Ghalenoi and Afshin Ghotbi had been shortlisted to lead Iran past the group stage in its sixth World Cup appearance.

With Skocic now remaining in the job, the federation has appealed for unity.

“We ask that the national team players, the media, ex-players and everyone unite for the common goal to elevate the name of Iran,” Osuli added.

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