ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) - Iran forward Karim Ansarifard has called for the country’s football authorities to convince coach Carlos Queiroz to extend his stay after the side’s dramatic last-gasp 1-0 World Cup victory over Morocco on Friday.
Queiroz led Team Melli to their first World Cup win in 20 years — and only the second in the country’s history — when Aziz Bouhaddouz’s own goal deep into added time gave the Iranians all three points in their Group B opener.
The win is the highlight of a seven-year stint in Iran for the Portuguese coach, who announced before the tournament that he would stand down from his role after only being offered a six-month extension to his contract.
Ansarifard, however, wants the Iran Football Federation to reconsider the situation and convince the 65-year-old to remain in the role long after the tournament in Russia concludes.
“We hope he will stay and we will pray that he will stay because now after seven years he’s one of us and he has tried to give everything to our national team,” the Olympiacos striker told reporters.
“He deserves to stay with us and make all of the Iranian people proud.”
Former Real Madrid coach Queiroz was handed the Iran job in April 2011 and has qualified the country for the last two World Cup tournaments, the first time they have appeared at back-to-back finals.
But the former goalkeeper has had a fractious relationship with football authorities in Iran and has threatened to resign on a number of occasions throughout his tenure.
Just weeks before the start of the finals in Russia, Queiroz told Reuters he would stand down from his post after being offered a contract that would only take him through to the Asian Cup finals in the United Arab Emirates next January.
“We have one of the most fantastic coaches in the world,” Ansarifard added. “He has been in Iran for the last seven years and he has supported us all of the time.
“He fights for us and he teaches us and we learn something from him every day, and for sure it’s a good opportunity if we can keep him in our team because still we are learning from him.
“He’s fantastic for us and, as you saw in the game, we had a great chance to win the game, to make it possible to make our fans happy.”
Iran continue their Group B campaign against Spain in Kazan on Wednesday before concluding the pool phase against Portugal in Saransk on June 25.
Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by John O'Brien