Clemente focused only on football

Iran's new coach is unconcerned by the political situation in the country.

    Javier Clemente attends the Syria-Iran  qualifying
    match at Tehran's Azadi stadium [AFP]
    Newly appointed Iran coach Javier Clemente said he is not concerned with the country's political situation, and that his sole aim is to get the team to qualify for the World Cup.

    Clemente announced the agreement with the Iranian soccer federation from the northern Spanish city of Bilbao, close to the town of Zarautz where he lives.

    No financial details were disclosed.

    "Russians, Chinese, communists, capitalists, blacks or whites are all the same to me. I'm a soccer coach and I don't understand, nor want to understand, anything else," Clemente told Spanish sports daily AS.

    "I'm going there to try to qualify Iran for the 2010 World Cup and I couldn't give a hoot about anything else."

    Clemente coached Spain from 1992-1998 and Serbia during the past two years.

    He left the Serbia post last December after failing to qualify for the European championship.

    With Iran, he replaces Amir Ghalenoei, who led the team until it was eliminated from the Asian Cup quarterfinals in July.

    Iran is in a World Cup qualifying group with Kuwait, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.

    The 57-year-old Clemente also coached Spanish teams Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Real Betis and Espanyol along with French side Marseille.

    His most successful period was with Bilbao, where he won two league titles and a Spanish cup in the early 1980s.

    Clemente's first game for Iran will be against Kuwait on March 26.

    Live in Spain, coach in Iran

    As with the Serbian post, he said he would not live in Iran, but only travel there days before a match.

    "To be a coach of Iran you don't have to live there," he said.

    "Even if you did you could only go to one match and see the rest on video. And videos work just as well in Tehran as they do in Zarautz."

    He added that he had received an offer from an unnamed Spanish first-division side for next season, but that he was unsure whether a deal could have been completed.

    Clemente said he planned to use Osasuna's Iran international Javad Nekounam to communicate with his new players.

    His first impression of the Iranian side was that they are "very technical but a bit slow. They like passing and playing build-up soccer," he said.

    "There's work to be done but they were Asian champions and so there are possibilities."

    Asked whether he had met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Clemente said, "I haven't had the chance to greet him but when they introduce him to me I will salute him with all respect as he is the president of the country."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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