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Ex-Iran football head coach eyes S. Korea return

All Headlines 10:56 November 30, 2018

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- Former Iran national football team head coach Afshin Ghotbi is looking to land a job in South Korea, his agent said Friday, as he believes his abundant experience in Asia can help the country's pro football league.

Ghotbi is in talks with several K League clubs, his South Korea representative said without revealing names of the teams. If he seals a contract, Ghotbi will return to the country where he developed his coaching career.

"Korea is home away from home for me," Ghotbi said through his agent. "I believe Korean football needs to be updated, and I believe I can offer the experience, innovation and the new ideas to help Korea to reinvent itself for future global success."

This file photo taken on Jan. 20, 2011, shows then-Iran national football team head coach Afshin Ghotbi at the AFC Asian Cup in Doha. (Yonhap)

Ghotbi is one of the foreigners who are familiar with South Korean football. He first made ties with South Korea in 2000 after he joined Guus Hiddink's national football team as a video analyst. Under Hiddink, he helped South Korea to reach the semifinals at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Ghotbi went on to serve as an assistant coach at the K League 1 outfit Suwon Samsung Bluewings from 2002 to 2004. He then returned to the South Korean national team as an assistant for Dick Advocaat and Pim Verbeek from 2005 to 2007.

Ghotbi, an American citizen born in Iran, said he feels proud of being part of "one of the greatest sporting achievements" in South Korea's sports history.

"For me, the social and cultural impact of the Korean national team success exceeded the footballing impact," he said. "To see Koreans around the world united, proud and beaming with confidence, meant a great deal to me."

This file photo taken on May 15, 2006, shows then-South Korea national football team assistant coaches Afshin Ghotbi (L), Pim Verbeek (C) and head coach Dick Advocaat at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

After working with the South Korean national team, Ghotbi became head coach for Iranian club Persepolis and took the helm of the Iranian national team from 2009 to 2011. His Iran faced South Korea at the 2011 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in the quarterfinals but suffered a 1-0 loss.

Ghotbi later had stints with Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse and Thai giants Buriram United before moving to China's Shijiazhuang Ever Bright in 2017. He left Shijiazhuang this September.

"I feel happy to be one of the few coaches in the world who has worked in the Korean, Japanese and Chinese leagues," he said. "The K League is physical, dynamic and based on transition from defense to attack and vice versa. The J. League is technical, high tempo and organized. (The) Chinese league is physical, and foreign players play a major role in teams' success."

Although coaching jobs in the K League have been predominantly taken by homegrown coaches, there are signs of change. On Thursday, reigning K League 1 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors announced that they've hired Jose Morais of Portugal as their new head coach. Daegu FC are currently with Brazilian boss Andre Luiz Alves Santos.

"The K League's quality will directly affect the Korean national team's success, so it is important to hire the best coaches regardless of their nationality," Ghotbi said. "Having coaches with different experiences and tactical priorities will help create a more exciting league for both players and fans."

kdon@yna.co.kr
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