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Iranian-American coach quits after triumph

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 May 2008

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Iranian-American football manager Afshin Qotbi quit as coach of Iranian side Persepolis, just a week after guiding the club to the league title in his first year back in Iran, officials said Friday.

Qotbi, who returned to Iran last year after spending much of his life in the United States, is set to leave the country in the next few days with his South Korean wife.

“After talking it over with his family, Qotbi officially told us that he does not want to remain in Iran any longer and to work with Persepolis,” Habib Kashani, the director of the Persepolis, told the student agency ISNA.

“The reason for Qotbi's departure, according to him, is special family circumstances and has nothing to do with financial differences,” Kashani also told state news agency IRNA.

Qotbi took Persepolis, traditionally one of Tehran's top two clubs, to its first league title in six years despite being docked six points mid-season on a technicality.

The team clinched the title on the last day of the season on May 17 with a thrilling 2-1 win over rivals Sepahan.

During his one year in charge, Qotbi endeared himself to Iranian football fans with his tactical thinking, smart dressing and animated comments to the media.

His return to Iran provoked great interest given Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations for almost three decades and remain arch-enemies.

He was seen as a leading candidate to become national team manager until the football federation stunned observers by suddenly naming the relatively inexperienced former striker Ali Daei.

Qotbi, born in Tehran, attended university in the United States and won an engineering degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He later worked with the US national team and football academy before working with Guus Hiddink when the Dutchman was coach of South Korea's national team. Qotbi has also worked with LA Galaxy and South Korean club sides.

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