After parting ways with the Serb Slobodan Kovac, Iran is putting its fate back in the hands of an Argentinian. The federation chose Raul Lozano, former coach of Poland and Germany, who is currently working with a polish club Czarni Radom.
Lozano, who was one of the rumoured choices alongside another Poland’s former coach Andrea Anastasi, takes the team at a critical time, 9 months before the Olympic Games.
Iran, the new member of the volleyball elite, began its road with the legendary Argentinian Julio Velasco, surprising everybody at the World Cup in 2011. The team failed to qualify for London 2012, losing in the qualifier against Australia, but remained a threat to the powerhouses. Velasco resigned from coaching Iran to take over his country-mates Argentinians in 2014, while Iran signed Slobodan Kovac. Under his command Iran advanced to Final Six of the World League for the first time in their history, but finished 6th at the World Championship later that year. The team saved the season by winning the Asian Games, but failed to maintain success next year in both 2015 World League and World Cup.
Raul Lozano is one of the most experienced coaches from Argentina, with a highly successful career in his domestic league and Italian Serie A. He was coaching Spain in years 1994-1997 and 1999-2000, and then made a short pause in his international career to come back to lead the national teams 2005 when he signed a contract with Poland as their first foreign coach ever. Lozano led the current world champions to a silver medal at the World Championship in 2006, but the team could not repeat successes in the following years. In 2009 Lozano moved on to work with the German team for two years. He is now back to coaching, leading a Polish League club Czarni Radom.
Argentinian coach takes over the Iranian team with a huge load of expectations on his shoulders, as his first goal will be to win the Olympic qualification at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan where his new team will face Australia, Japan, Korea and second and third team from the European qualifier as well as the second teams from the NORCECA and South American qualifiers. Will the team deliver under his lead? We will find out in a few months.