Clemente mulls Iranian offer despite reluctance to make move

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The former coach of Spain's national side, Javier Clemente, has been offered the job of training Iran's soccer team.

28 January 2008

MADRID - The former coach of Spain's national side, Javier Clemente, has been offered the job of training Iran's soccer team, but with a key condition: he cannot live in Spain and travel to Iran in the run-up to international matches, according to Iranian Football Federation (IFF) president Ali Kafashian.

"His trips to Spain would be limited to once or twice a year, but he would have to stay in Iran most of the time," said Kafashian on Saturday.

Kafashian also rejected earlier claims by the IFF that Clemente had already signed a three-year contract in Spain, and denied that final terms have been agreed.

Kafashian said that the IFF and Clemente had only inked a draft agreement in Bilbao, and that he was due to travel to Tehran this week.

"Iran wants me to be the national coach, we've talked and they've offered me the job but the agreement is dependent on what happens when I go there next week," the former Spain coach told Reuters on Friday, adding: "Nothing has been signed yet."

"The offer is for me to take them through the qualification to the [2010] World Cup but if I don't like the set-up, the way of life, the installations or their project for the national team, then I won't take it," he said.

Clemente was quoted in the Iranian press as saying that when he coached Serbia, he lived in Spain and only travelled to the country for coaching. He said the same arrangement would have to apply for Iran, as he had no interest in living in there for three years.

Under the agreement, Clemente would work with two Iranian assistant coaches, but would be able to appoint his own fitness and goalkeeper trainers.

The IFF initially wanted to hire a German coach and initially short-listed Christoph Daum and Lothar Matthäus to take up the vacant Iran national team post, but IFF deputy president Mehdi Taj said the committee settled on Clemente because he had lower financial expectations.

One of Spain's most successful coaches, Clemente led Athletic Bilbao to two Spanish league titles and one King's Cup title in the 1980s. Between 1986 and 1989, he led Espanyol in its most successful season to date, including a third-place finish in the league and a UEFA-Cup final. His spell with the Spanish national team may not have led to any titles, but he went 31 games unbeaten and managed to get the side to the quarterfinals in both the 1994 World Cup and the 1996 European Championship, losing each time on penalties. He took over the Serbian national football team in 2006, but was sacked after the side failed to reach Euro 2008.

If he does decide to make the move to Tehran, Clemente's first task will be to steer Iran to the next round of World Cup Qualifiers in Asia. Iran starts its campaign on 6 February in Tehran against Syria, followed by games against UAE and Kuwait in May.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / Nuria Limón 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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