Iran's results in the 2014 FIFA World Cup regressed for all three of their Group F matches, as they registered just one point. Despite inspiring his side to compete hard on the big international stage, manager Carlos Queiroz announced Wednesday that he wouldn't return to man the sidelines.
The Daily Mail's Joe Bernstein reported the news, along with what Queiroz had to say regarding his departure:
I've shown my commitment to this project, but I haven't received any new contract offer. It's been an honour for me to work for Iran, I've fallen in love with the country. But you can't have a marriage when only one side wants to commit. I waited for them to make an offer, but I haven't received anything, so today I've come here to say "thank you" to those who gave me the opportunity to do this job. I will always have Iranian football, my players and the fans in my heart.
Queiroz evidently felt somewhat bitter about not even being extended a renewed contract offer, particularly with the passion he brought to the pitch. Team Melli's best performance had to be in the second fixture against group winner Argentina, where Iran played to what was looking like a second straight scoreless draw.
The Times' Tony Barrett praised Queiroz for rallying his players to rise to the occasion against the Group F favorite:
Unfortunately for Iran, it wasn't long after that when Argentina superstar Lionel Messi asserted his will, delivering a perfect, long-range strike in stoppage time to hand Queiroz and Co. a heartbreaking defeat. There appeared to be a hangover effect in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to a far less formidable foe in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Owen Gibson of The Guardian wondered whether England boss Roy Hodgson was feeling the heat after Queiroz's exit:
In the FIFA world rankings, Iran are No. 43, which suggests they had a long shot just to get to the knockout stage of the World Cup. The fact that they nearly got a point off Argentina alone should have been enough for Queiroz to at least warrant consideration for a new deal.
Then again, managing just one point in three matches and capping it off with by far their worst effort of the World Cup didn't help Queiroz's cause to stay. Based on the potential Iran flashed versus Argentina, though, Queiroz has at least left a foundation in place for future success for Team Melli.
What will be key for Iran is finding a successor that can build on the positives found in Brazil. That may be easier said than done in light of how Queiroz commanded attention. There is also no questioning Queiroz's tactical knowledge and brilliance, which Iran will likely find hard to replace.
As for Queiroz, several of the sides that were eliminated from the World Cup prior to the round of 16 could do worse than to land him as their next manager. The next tournament is far off in the future, so there are bound to be plenty more opportunities for Queiroz to explore. With better personnel to work with, he may be the proper fit for an alternative national team.
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