The tension between Team Melli coach and the League clubs coaches are continuing unabated. The latest episode involves Carlos Queiroz and FFIRI on one side and Branko Ivankovic and Persepolis on the other. Queiroz is known to be at odds with the league club coaches as in the past, he started a series of verbal battles with the likes of Daei and Ghalenoei on the matter of his continual demand to interrupt the league during the season on the pretext of Team Melli’s preparations.
Iran’s Persian Gulf Football League has the highest number of breaks amongst the Asian leagues.
This time, his battle is with Branko Ivankovic. The Croat is a seasoned campaigner in Iranian football. He started his work in the country as an assistant to Miroslav Blazevic in 2001 and ended up as Team Melli’s head coach leading the squad to Asian Games Gold Medal in 2002, third place in AFC Asian Cup 2004 and then leading the Team to the FIFA World Cup 2006 in one of the easiest qualifiers since the seventies.
Ivankovic returned to Iran as the head coach of Persepolis while the team was struggling last season and desperate for success that has abandoned them for years. A mid table finish was all that Ivankovic could do with the limited time and resources available but this season he is at the top of the league and has built a young energetic competitive unit that is bringing back the Red Army’s glory days and challenging for the title.
Ivankovic , however, believes there is one big stumbling block in his road map for the championship title. The untimely break in the league followed by compressed scheduling to complete the league matches, is a serious threat. The Croat had enough of Queiroz’s never ending demands for Team Melli camps and accuses the Portuguese of interrupting the whole league system by his uncalled for demands for setting up camps before the World Cup qualifiers. “If Persepolis falters this season and fails to win the title, you should question Mr. Queiroz for continuously interrupting the rhythm of a winning team.”
Branko’s latest outburst with the backing of his club management forced the head of FFIRI , Mehdi Taj , to act and even ask Queiroz to consider sending Persepolis players back to Tehran to join their clubs for training!
It is obvious that the aggressive head coach of Team Melli does not have time for compromise and it is his way or the highway. With such style, he does not have many friends to exchange seasons greeting with in Iran. Lots of discontent is generated amongst the clubs leading to several sharp protest or exchanges between Queiroz and the others. Some even accused him of holding the league clubs and the nation at ransom. Branko Ivankovic has mentioned that as a former Team Melli head coach, he realizes very well how important Team Melli is to the nation and the football in Iran. However, he adds that Team Melli program must be discussed amongst all the stakeholders and not be the result of one person’s decision and particularly a person that has very little regards to other people’s opinions.
The battle is still raging