Tag: Croatia

Tractor Snatches Up Skocic as New Head Coach

In a move aimed at bolstering the team for the upcoming season, Tractor Club of Tabriz has appointed Dragan Skocic, the former Iranian national team coach, as their new head coach. The announcement follows successful negotiations led by Tractor’s acting CEO, Saeed Mozafarizadeh.

Skocic emerged as the favored candidate after the club considered a number of options for the head coach position. This experienced Croatian manager boasts a distinguished resume, including stints with Croatia’s U-21 national team, clubs across the Middle East and Iran, and most notably, Iran’s senior national team (Team Melli). His trophy cabinet includes two championship titles from Slovenia and Croatia.

Skocic’s tenure with Team Melli was particularly impressive. He compiled a remarkable record of 15 wins, 1 draw, and only 2 losses – a testament to his tactical prowess. However, his successful World Cup qualification campaign with Iran was unfortunately cut short due to reported internal politics within the Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI), who opted for the return of Carlos Queiroz despite Skocic’s achievements.

Skocis was a victim of backstabbing by several senior Team Melli members who were pushing the FFIRI for a return of Carlos Queiroz even though Skocic led Iran to the FIFA World Cup 2022 with relative ease and with three matches to spare.

Dragan Skočić, appointed as Croatia’s U21 head coach.

The former Team Melli coach Dragan Skočić has been appointed to Croatia Under 21 Football Team.

According to  Croatian Football Federation officially announced on Friday afternoon that Dragan Skocic’s contract with the under-21 football team has been signed.  The  statement said :

“Skocic’s last work was leading the Iranian national team, which successfully led the team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and by scoring 25 points in 10 games in the third qualifying round of the World Cup, a new record for the national team. Iran registered. Skocic didn’t have the chance to lead Iran to the finals despite the great results. Before coaching Iran’s national football team, Skocic coached Rijeka, Interblock Ljubljana, Al Arabi, Nasr, Malavan, Foolad, Rayka Babol, and Sanat Naft, and his coaching successes include winning the Croatian FA Cup with the Rica team and winning the Slovenian FA Cup and Supercup pointed with Interblock. He reached the final of the Crown Prince Cup with Al-Arabi and led Al-Nasr and Foolad in the AFC Champions League. Skocic was nominated for the 2021 World Coach Award by the IFFHS. Skocic, who has to participate in the European Championship with the Croatian team in less than 70 days, said about accepting the leadership of the Croatian under-21 team: Skočić said: I take on this role with great pride, ambition, and optimism, and to Mr. Kostic, the president of the Croatian Federation. Thank you for your trust.”

He added: Igor (former coach of the Croatian youth team) did a very good job in this team. My wish is to finish the European Cup with the best possible performance and then start gathering and building the new generation. We have really talented and quality players. I look forward to the challenge of using my knowledge and experience to help them realize their potential”

teamelli.com wishes Dragan Skočić the best in leading his country’s youth team.

Dragan Skočić feeling of relief and pride after Croatia wins third place.

Croatia ended their World Cup campaign with the pride of claiming third place in a 2-1 win against Morocco, which marked the end of a journey but also promised a bright future, coach Zlatko Dalic said on Saturday.

Croatia, runners-up in 2018, prevailed with goals by Josko Gvardiol and Mislav Orsic to end their World Cup on a high as Luka Modric possibly bid farewell to the soccer extravaganza.

Croatia beat Brazil in the quarter-finals, but for Dalic, Saturday’s bronze medal game was the highlight of their tournament.

“It was a difficult, great match. I want to extend my congratulations to Morocco, they put up a great fight until the last minute, despite the fatigue.

“They can be proud, they remind me of us four years ago. We’re among the best teams in the world.”

Croatia can now look forward to the future with confidence.

“It’s the end of a cycle for us, the end of a journey. Tonight’s match and the win is the moment of the tournament for us,” said Dalic.

“Yes, this is the last World Cup for some of my players today due to their age. But we have young players in the team and it is great for Croatia,” he added, referring to  man of the match Josko Gvardiol, but also Lovro Majer and Borna Sosa.

“We have many of the players on the bench, too.”

Dalic, however, is still counting on his old guard for the Nations League and the Euro 2024 qualifiers.

“We would not have been that far without our older players. We have a great future, Croatia has nothing to fear. Is it the end of an era for a generation? Well, we still have the Nations League and the Euro qualifiers. All I know is that Croatia has a bright future.”

While the proud nation of only 3.8 million people is meager compared to the 9 million living in Tehran only, its football pedigree is something to be proud of. Finalist in the last tournament and third-place winner in the current 2022 edition, the Croats must be feeling elated and proud of their achievements. One person who was robbed of being a happy and proud man is non-other than Dragan Skočić. The Croat former head coach of Team Melli was unceremoniously removed from his post following the return of Mehdi Taj. After taking Iran to the World Cup finals, his reward was dismissal. The win for his country must at least have given Skočić some sense of justice and relief, while Mehdi Taj and his failed team are pondering what to do next, perhaps figure out a trick to reinstate the perpetual failure coach to ruin Iranian football again, this time in Asia Cup 2023.

Dragan Skocic undergoes successful operation

Team Melli head Coach has undergone a successful operation after suffering from a gastrointestinal complication. Dragan Skocic was already under treatment for his ailment before the surgery was mandated.

Skocic , was in his home country Croatia for a vacation, when he underwent the operation. He returned to Croatia after the draw of the national team matches in the World Cup.

Skocic’s recuperation period is only a few days and the head coach will have no problem returning back to his duty. At the moment, there is no indication at all if the FFIRI has managed to engage any team for the friendly matches.

Dragan Skocic confirmed as head coach of Team Melli to the World Cup.

Following Team Melli’s successful qualification to the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and also qualification to the finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2023, there were ambiguities about the status of Dragan Skocic’s post as the head coach.

After the squad returned from Bahrain, Shahab Azizi Khadim, the head of FFIRI announced that the contract with Skocic has expired with the conclusion of the second round of the preliminaries and his federation’s Board of Directors will meet to discuss the future of Head Coach post of Team Melli.

On the other hand, in an interview with a local TV station, the incumbent coach Skocic, refuted any claims of expiry of the contract as he clearly mentioned that he has a contract up to the end of the World Cup.

On Sunday, the Football Federation eventually decided to continue with the services of the Croatian coach. “The Football Federation reached a joint agreement with the head coach of the national team until the end of the third qualifying round of the World Cup,” Shahabuddin Azizi Khadem confirmed the news. The president of the football federation added: “After the draw of the third round, it was decided to make proper plans for this stage and the football federation will put all the necessary facilities for the preparation of the national team and a strong presence in the third round on the agenda.”

The draw for the final qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be held on July 1st in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Iranian national football team is seeded no 2 as head of a 6 team group drawn from two pots.

Dragan Skočić, left Tehran early morning Monday for a one-week break in Croatia.

Third test for Dragan Skocic

Team Melli and will face Syria in an international friendly today (Tuesday) at 17:30 in Azadi Stadium as part of the preparation for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.
In recent years, Iran and Syria have faced each other in various competitions. The matches between the two teams in the World Cup qualifier in Russia in both round-trip matches ended in a draw, but with the change of Iran’s training cadre and the arrival of Wilmots, Team Melli inflicted a heavy 5-0 defeat to the Syrians in a friendly match.
Since then, the coaches of both teams have changed and now Syria is in a much better position than Iran in the World Cup qualifiers.

Iranian national team
Dragan Skocic will have his third coaching experience with Team Melli against Syria. He has already managed to achieve a perfect record with two victories in two matches defeating Uzbekistan and Bosnia. The Croatian coach’s whole effort is to prepare a team of the best Iranian players to claim a place in the World Cup qualifiers next round and defeat both Iraq and Bahrain in order to clinch one of the places.
With the exception of a few players who were unable to accompany the national team due to injuries or travel restrictions during the spread of the Coronavirus, Skocic has invited most of the top players inside and outside Iran, although as always there have been criticisms in some posts.

However, the return of Taremi, Azmoun, Beiranvand, etc. to the national team in this camp compared to the earlier one is good news for the fans of Team Melli who always want to see a full-strength team in action. As in previous camps, the Croatian coach has invited several young and lesser-known players, and it remains to be seen what the consequences of their presence in the national team will be.

Given Bahrain hosting the third qualifying group for the World Cup in Asia, Skocic and his team are working very hard to advance to the next stage and must use the same friendly games to increase the quality and preparation of the national team.

Syrian national team
The Syrian national team recently played a friendly match against Bahrain, and lost 3-1, with some Syrian media and fans criticizing their coach. However, Nabil Maaloul, who has a track record of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with the Tunisian national team, has achieved brilliant results in the first group of the World Cup together with Syria and is in first place above China.

Syria has almost reached the third round of the World Cup and is now preparing for the toughest stage of the tournament to complete the unfinished work of the previous round. They lost four years ago in their last World Cup qualifier against Uruguay and failed to qualify for the World Cup.
Omar Al-Suma (due to injury) and Omar Al-Kharbin (lifelong suspension from the national team) are not present in this match as two prominent strikers, but other main Syrian players have come to Tehran. This meeting is very important for Syria in terms of results and readiness.

Dragan Skočić appointed as Head Coach of Team Melli

The Croat coach Dragan Skočić has been appointed as the new head coach of Team Melli on Thursday.

The 51 years old Croatian has just resigned from his post as head coach of Persian Gulf League club Sanat Naft after a long dispute with the Abadani club for their failure to respect the contract and failure to provide proper support for the team.

A day after Dragan Skočić announced his departure from Sanat Naft Abadan, he was appointed as Team Melli head coach.

Skočić first arrived in Iran in 2013 where he coached Malavan Anzali where he could not have much success with the team. Next season he was recruited by Foolad Khuzestan where he remained for two seasons and managed to improve the results of the team but still could not win them any trophies. He left Iran in 2016.

In 2018 Skočić turned up again in Iran where he took over the coached of Azadegan league side Khooneh be Khooneh. A season later 2019 he was coaching  Sanat Naft Abadan in July before he resigned his post on 4th February 2020.

Zlatko Kranjcar with Dragan Skocic in a league match encounter
Zlatko Kranjcar (left) with Dragan Skocic (Right) in a league match encounter

During his long managerial career, in Croatia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, Skočić managed only a single achievement with his home club Rijeka, winning the Croatian Cup for the 2005–06 season.

Team Melli is the first National Team coaching experience of Dragan Skočić

Hrvoje Milić : “Never felt safer in my life like walking in Tehran”

Hrvoje Milić the Esteghlal Croatian player expressed his disappointment and surprise by the decision of AFC to ban Iranian clubs from playing at home.

“I have never felt vulnerable on the streets of Tehran,” he said, stressing that Iran was safe.  “I have never felt safer while walking in Tehran”. “The way Iranians treat foreigners is remarkable, very friendly and hospitable. They go out of their way to help or guide you. I have always told my family that the Iranian people are courteous and  hospitable”

Hrvoje Milić the Estghlal Croatian player

The 30 years old Croatian footballer continued: “Life in this country is like any other country. People go to their workplaces and kids go to school. Personally, I would not have gone back to Iran if I felt that Iran was an unsafe place or there is a risk to my life.  I would have loved to play against the Kuwaiti team in front of 100,000 supporters, but this decision by AFC has deprived and surprised me from such experience.”

Esteghlal was scheduled to play Al-Kuwait Club in Azadi in the preliminary rounds of the AFC Champions League before AFC shocked Iran football by banning Iranian teams from hosting their matches.

Persepolis, Sepahan and Shahr Khodro have collectively refused to give up their legal rights of playing and hosting games in Iran.

Ivankovic’s pre-condition to coach Team Melli.

Branko Ivankovic is claiming 960,000 Euro arrears from Persepolis Club.

While the Croat coach is negotiating the possibility of coaching Team Melli with FFIRI and has met with the Iranian Ambassador in Croatia regarding this matter, he insists on settling the accounts with the Iranian Champions. The former Persepolis and Team Melli coach has given two conditions to the Iranian authorities, one of which is the financial settlement, while the other is the settlement of the contract with current coach Wimots before he can officially negotiates terms & conditions to coach Team Melli. It is an unwritten law between coaches that negotiating a job will not be carried out unless the post is vacant, which is not the case with Team Melli as Wilmots is still in charge, although remotely.

Meanwhile, Perspolis has acknowledged the receipt of an official letter from FIFA legal department reference Ivankovic’s claim and ordered to pay the full amount to their former Croatian coach. Failure to pay would result in sanctions on Persepolis and interest accumulation on the amount until it is fully paid.

Meanwhile, in true tradition Persepolis club on the receipt of the warning from FIFA, is seeking a discount from Branko Ivankovic! Persepolis must have thought to pull a quick one by taking advantage of Black Friday!

FFIRI has remained tight-lipped on the negotiations with Ivankovic and the contract with Marc Wilmots, whose future with Team Melli seems to be doubtful after the poor results that threaten Iran’s qualification for the FIFA Wolrd Cup 2022.

Iran chances at FIFA world Cup 2018 draw

On 1 December, the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place at the State Kremlin Palace in the heart of the country’s capital. The tagline of the event is “Where the stars align”, which refers not only to the glow of the best footballing nations in the world but also perfectly alludes to the idea of destiny as the road to the coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy is unveiled.

Iran will be represented in the ceremony by Mohammad Reza Saket and the head coach Carlos Queiroz.


By tomorrow, all of the 32 teams would have been identified and the pots will be filled as seen in the table below.

Team Melli will be in POT 3 and as customary , the draw attracts wide attention across the globe. Looking at the possibilities  for Team Melli, the best draw would be a group formed as follows. Most probably it will be Group A


   Russia  Croatia    Iran    Panama

The worst possible draw for team Melli will be :

   Germany    Spain    Iran    Serbia


The List of Qualified Teams

Ranks Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
1 Russia (Hosts) Spain (8) Denmark (19) Serbia (38)
2 Germany (1) Peru (10) Iceland (21)* Nigeria (41)
3 Brazil (2) Switzerland (11) Costa Rica (22) Australia (43)
4 Portugal (3) England (12) Sweden (25) Japan (44)
5 Argentina (4) Colombia (13) Tunisia (28) Morocco (48)
6 Belgium (5) Mexico (16) Egypt (30) Panama (49)
7 Poland (6) Uruguay (17) Senegal (32) South Korea (62)
8 France (7) Croatia (18)* Iran (34) Saudi Arabia (63)