Queiroz ends contract saga by signing Iran deal

(Reuters) - The long running saga over Carlos Queiroz’s future with Iran finally ended on Tuesday with the former Real Madrid and Portugal manager agreeing a four-year extension to stick with the Asian side.

Iran's coach Carlos Queiroz gestures during their 2014 World Cup Group F match against Argentina at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte June 21, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Queiroz had said he would step down from the position upon their World Cup exit in June, complaining of a one-sided relationship with the Iranian Football Federation.

The former Manchester United assistant manager U-turned on that move a month later, but numerous negotiation hitches dragged out the contract renewal process before he finally signed an agreement in Tehran on Tuesday.

The protracted talks have delayed preparations for January’s Asian Cup but Queiroz was confident the three-times winners could at least finish in the top three in Australia.

“First, we are going to win a medal in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia. Because of that, we need to work hard,” the 61-year-old told reporters.

“As you know me, I am not the kind of the person who just promises. We will have to reach our goal with hard work.

“Our second goal is clear and easy. We want to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Our programme is clear.”

Queiroz has enjoyed solid success with a limited Iranian side, guiding them to their fourth World Cup finals this year but their bid for a first appearance at the knockout stages ended after defeats by Argentina and Bosnia following a draw with African champions Nigeria.

The Iranians came within minutes of snatching a draw against eventual finalists Argentina, only for Lionel Messi to score a superb stoppage time winner to end their resistance.

Queiroz earned plaudits for his work with the team and was applauded by local media during news conferences in Brazil but he has had an uneasy relationship with federation boss Ali Kafashian.

The Mozambique-born coach, who succeeded Afshin Ghotbi after the 2011 Asian Cup, has long complained about the amateur set up in Iranian soccer and put the contract delays down to Kafashian.

The pair embraced at the contract signing ceremony but Queiroz will know his side will need a strong showing at the Asian Cup in order to stay on.

Iran have been drawn in Group C of the Asian Cup alongside West Asian sides United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar as they look to lift a first continental title since 1976.

Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Greg Stutchbury