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Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Eight - 01 March 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Eight - 01 March 2023 - Page 5

Mansourian named new Foolad manager

Former Esteghlal and Tractor manager Alireza Mansourian was appointed as the new head coach of the Persian Gulf Pro League club Foolad Khuzestan on a year-and-a-half contract.
Mansourian, 51, will be replacing Javad Nekounam, who unexpectedly stepped down from his role after the 1-0 victory over Saudi club Al Faisaly in the AFC Champions League round of 16 last week for what is believed to be a dispute with the new club board.
Hamidreza Rajabi, an assistant to Nekounam, took over as a caretaker for the game against defending champion Al Hilal in the quarterfinals last Thursday, which the Saudi giant won 1-0 thanks to a Moussa Marega’s 87th-minute strike.
The club was willing to continue with Rajabi for the remaining 10 fixtures in the Iranian top flight and the Hazfi Cup fixture against Golgohar Sirjan on March 17 but the coach declined the offer “out of loyalty” to Nekounam.
Expectations were high of Nekounam – who led Foolad to Hazfi Cup and Super Cup trophies during his four-year spell – following the acquisition of some high-profile players during the summer and mid-season transfer windows.
However, a run of only five wins in 20 league outings – including three successive defeats before heading to Doha for the ACL knockouts – has seen Foolad lagging in ninth place of the 16-team table before this week’s fixtures.
Mansourian’s first game on Foolad bench comes against Malavan FC, which is two points adrift of Foolad in the table, today in Ahvaz’s Foolad Arena.
Foolad is Mansourian’s fourth top-flight club after Tractor, Aluminium Arak, and San’at Naft Abadan over the past two-and-a-half years.
Last season, Mansourian led San’at Naft to nine wins in 30 games and a 10th-spot finish in the league.
His best stint came with Naft Tehran between 2014 and 2016, when he steered the club to a third-spot finish in the league and the domestic cup final.
A successful spell at Naft saw the ex-Iranian international – a fans’ favorite during his playing career with Esteghlal – named manager of the Tehran-based Blues for the start of the 2016/17 season, which Esteghlal finished as the runner-up.
Mansourian, who was a part of Carlos Queiroz’s staff during his first spell in charge of the Iranian national team, was shown the exit door at Esteghlal following a shaky start to the 2017-18 campaign.

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