On their 3rd (public) attempt, the Iranian volleyball federation has finally found the new head coach for their men’s team: Igor Kolakovic. He takes over the post vacated by Raul Lucia Lozano after the Olympic Games.
The 51-year old Montenegrin Kolakovic signed a two year deal with the IRIVF that carries a further two-year option.
“IRIVF’s primary objective is to dispatch a competitive and strong team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” IRIVF President Mohammad Reza Davarzani said. “The consensus of opinion among members of the IRIVF Presiding Board was that Kolakovic is capable of achieving that goal.”
Kolakovic’s prior coaching stop was with France’s AC Cannes from 2013-2016, where he was replaced by club legend Arnaud Josserand this season. The club is currently near the bottom of the French table while under investigation by the French federation for payroll violations.
Kolavic has one other international appointment on his resume: from 2006-2014, he served as the head coach of the men’s national team of Montenegrin rival Serbia for 9 years. In that time, Serbia landed on the World League podium 3 times and took bronze at both the 2007 and 2013 European Championships.
He takes over an Iran team that qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio in their first-ever Olympic start in men’s volleyball. They were 6th at the 2014 World Championships as well. The team is aging – over half of the Iranian roster at the Olympics will be over the age of 30 by the end of 2017, and only one will be under the age of 25 (Milad Ebadipour is 23, to be 24 in October). The club is captained by Saeid Marouf, a 31-year old setter who is one of the best in the world at his position.
The Iranians previously held discussions about the position with both Bulgarian coach Radisotin Stoychev and Italian coach Andrea Anastasi. Stoychev told the federation in late December that he was “not interested” via email, while negotiations with Anastasi broke down at the last minute after he refused to leave his position with club team Gdansk to take over Iran’s squad.