Clemente inspired by Iran challenge

MADRID (Reuters) - Newly appointed Iran coach Javier Clemente has said he is inspired by the task of trying to steer the team to qualification for a fourth World Cup.

“For me it is a really great challenge,” the 57-year-old Spaniard told sports daily AS on Tuesday. “They live football there with exactly the same emotion as here. It’s really beautiful.”

The former Spain and Serbia coach accepted the offer from the Iranian Football Federation on Monday, agreeing to take charge of the three-times Asian Cup winners during the qualification phase for the 2010 World Cup.

Clemente, who visited Iran last week, said he believed the team had a real possibility of making the tournament in South Africa.

“The players are very skilful, but a little slow,” he said. “They play a patient passing game and there is plenty of work to do, but they have been Asian champions and they have potential.”

Clemente confirmed he would continue to live in the Basque Country on the north coast of Spain and would travel to Iran in order to prepare for matches.

“I will live in my house on the beach in Zarautz and travel to Tehran a week or two before the games and whenever is necessary,” he said.

“To be coach of Iran you don’t have to live there. You can only see one match live at a time and the rest you have to study on the video and as far as I know the video works the same in Tehran and Zarautz.

“Iran is just like Spain in that there are only 30 or so players that really need to be followed and that isn’t such a difficult task. You compile reports about each one and the squad will develop from that.

“My aim is to get Iran into the 2010 World Cup and I’m not concerned about anything else.”

Iran have played at three World Cups in 1978, 1998 and 2006.

Reporting by Simon Baskett; Editing by Sonia Oxley