Iran fired head coach Dragan Skocic four months prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, according to their state news agency. Skocic has only been in charge since February 2020 after the Croatian manager took over for Marc Wimots. The Iranian Football Federation, in search of a replacement in short time, may not have a clear-cut frontrunner, but there are several domestic candidates in line to replace Skocic, with a replacement set to be announced within a few days, according to Reuters.
Given the amount of time remaining, it makes sense for a manager with knowledge of the Persian Gulf Pro League to take charge because they will have knowledge of the players on the squad. With the league season beginning Aug. 11, the new manager would only have the September international window and the lead-up to the World Cup to instill their style.
As Iran are in Group B with the United States, this could be a boon to Gregg Berhalter’s side. When coaches change this close to a World Cup, issues can arise. Unfortunately, the Iran-USMNT matchup will be part of the third matchday on November 29. By then, Team Melli would either have any chemistry kinks resolved or are already eliminated from knockout stage contention.
Skocic was successful in charge of the team, winning 15 of 18 games in charge but losing two out of his last three, which led to his exit despite Iran qualifying for their third consecutive World Cup. For a team with rising expectations, this has been a tough summer as the players had their coach dismissed and a planned June friendly in Vancouver against Canada canceled due to political tensions surrounding the shooting down of an Ukrainian International Airlines flight on Iranian airspace.
It has been reported that some of the players in the side were against Skocic, which made the 2-1 friendly loss to Algeria an easy time to part ways. If the new manager is able to keep a similar playing style while also uniting the players, it could make Iran a tougher out as the team is already stout, but there is a fair amount of risk in moving on at this juncture.