Former Iran coach Ghotbi is keen to join a K League club

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Former Iran coach Ghotbi is keen to join a K League club

Former Iran national football team head coach Afshin Ghotbi is looking to land a job in Korea, his agent said on 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 Korea representative said without revealing the teams’ names. If he seals a contract, Ghotbi will return to the country where he developed his coaching career.

“Korea is my home away from home,” 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 reinvent itself for future global success.”

Ghotbi is one of the foreigners who are familiar with Korean football. He first made ties with Korea in 2000 after he joined Guus Hiddink’s national football team as a video analyst. Under Hiddink, he helped 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 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 Korea’s sports history.

“For me, the social and cultural impact of the Korean national team’s 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.”

After working with the Korean national team, Ghotbi became head coach for the Iranian club Persepolis and took the helm of the Iranian national team from 2009 to 2011.

His Iran team faced 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.”

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