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Iran's U.S. Connection: Coach Afshin Ghotbi

Afshin Ghotbi, the former Los Angeles Galaxy assistant coach, has a shot at completing one of soccer's all-time quick fix projects with his new team, Iran. Appointed Iran's head coach in April, Ghotbi and Iran need to avoid defeat Wednesday night in Seoul against South Korea to keep their hopes of World Cup qualification alive.

Born in Tehran, Ghotbi moved to southern California with his family in 1977. He was a soccer standout at Glendale and attended UCLA. In 1997, Steve Sampson brought Ghotbi onto his U.S. national team staff as a technical advisor and scout.

That job saw Ghotbi use computer technology and expertise to analyze opponent's tendencies, breaking new ground that would earn him a reputation as a soccer innovator. After a disappointing performance at France '98, in which the USA lost 2-1 to Iran, Ghotbi joined Guus Hiddink's South Korea staff at South Korea/Japan in 2002, a team that made a historic run to the semifinals. Ghotbi has spent the majority of his pro coaching career in Korea working for two of Hiddink's Dutch compatriots, Dick Advocaat and Pim Verbeek.

This experience should serve Ghotbi well against South Korea on Wednesday. Iran trails Saudi Arabia and North Korea by one point for the second automatic qualifying spot in Group B. South Korea has already secured a place in the competition.

 

Read the whole story at MLSnet.com »

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