TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran on Wednesday kept faith with coach Afshin Qotbi agreeing a new 18-month contract despite the team's failure to qualify for next year's World Cup finals in South Africa. The Iranians, a traditional powerhouse of Asian football, were dumped out of the World Cup qualifiers in the closing matchday of Asia's qualifying final round last month, only managing a 1-1 draw against South Korea. Iranian-American Qotbi vowed to resurrect the team's fortunes in the forthcoming Asian Cup after the Iranians' disappointing performance in the World Cup campaign. Speaking after signing an 18-month contract with the Iranian Football Federation, Qotbi said: "I will harness all of our football human wealth and my coaching knowledge to make Team Melli Asia's champion," the ISNA news agency reported. Qotbi was brought in after the Iranian football federation sacked two home grown coaches, Ali Daei and Mohammad Mayelikohan, in quick succession due to poor performances and disputes over tactics. The American-trained coach previously worked with the US national team before a long stint assisting Dutch coaches Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat and then Pim Verbeek with the South Koreans. The Iranians' hopes for the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar are looking bright: they head group E ahead of their next fixtures against Singapore, Thailand and Jordan. Qotbi blamed poor preparation for the lack of success in the World Cup effort. "I talked to the football federation to furnish us a special plane for our away matches, prepare the ground for friendly matches with worthy teams," he said. "These items were on my mind when I was negotiating with the federation and my salary as coach was my least concern," he said. "We should plan in a way so when we are in Brazil (2014 World Cup) we should be able to make it to the second round," he added. Iran are hoping for a return to their heyday they enjoyed in the late 1970's and early 1980's when they were Asian champions three times. The Iranians managed to reach two World Cups after the 1979 Islamic revolution: in France (1998) and in Germany (2006). Team Melli's only win in the event was at the French tournament when they overcame arch foes United States 2-1. Following the South Korea match, two leading players - Ali Karimi and skipper Mehdi Mahdavikia - resigned from the national team amid rumours some of the squad were being punished for wearing green armbands in support of the political opposition. Iranian authorities dismissed the claims as "lies and mischievous acts."