Soccer America's Paul Kennedy reports that Iran has hired its third national team coach in less than a month, and it is an Iranian-born and U.S.-educated coach.
Afshin Ghotbi has mostly recently been coaching in Iran for Persepolis in 2007 and 2008. Ghotbi, who attended UCLA and was credited for discovering John O'Brien while working as a youth coach in Southern California, replaced Mohammad Mayely-Kohan, who resigned after only two weeks on the job. Mayely-Kohan had replaced former Iran star Ali Daei after the team's 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in Tehran jeopardized its chances of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
Ghotbi, 45, had briefly been an assistant coach with MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy and spent eight years in South Korea working with the national team program and Samsung Bluewings.
"I've had success with Persepolis," said Ghotbi. "I know the players. I think I'm the best candidate. That I'm an Iranian-American, maybe at times that is not very interesting."
Steve Sampson is the only American-born coach to manage a national team program outside of the United States team, having managed Costa Rica. Where Ghotbi is not a US citizen, it is encouraging to see another coach with a US pedigree getting a chance to manage a national team.