We are in a tough group, says Katanec

DUBAI — The UAE head coach Srecko Katanec believed his boys could do very well in the Asian Cup even though his team had been placed in a tough group.

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Published: Tue 27 Apr 2010, 1:14 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:54 AM

Speaking to local media following the AFC Asian Cup draw in Doha on Friday, the Slovenian commented: “Group-4, which includes besides UAE, defending champions Iraq, Iran and North Korea, is the toughest.”

The UAE group includes defending champions Iraq and North Korea, which qualified for the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa in addition to Iran, one of the football powerhouses in the Asian continent.

But, Katanec is still confident that all teams have equal chances, and is counting on his team’s past experience with their competitors to take them through.

“We have played against Iran and North Korea in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. The Iraqis are not strangers to us. We have met Iraq in a friendly game recently.”

Katanec is of the opinion that the first game in the finals against North Korea is key to their campaign. “A victory in the opening game will increase the chances of the team to make it into the second stage.

“We will start preparations for the competition from Austria on May 21, followed by the Gulf Cup in Yemen and few international friendlies,” he said.

On the same note, team manager Ismail Rashid said there is nothing for the team to worry about.

“There’s nothing easy in football and if you want to win the cup, you should beat the strongest sides,” he said.

Rashid noted that UAE have qualified easily for the finals, and they must remember and realise this fact.

“We have to improve and show the best of us. Let’s take it step by step and think of advancing to the knock out stage and thereafter we will see what to do. We will work hard and honestly with the boys during the preparations and our immediate concern is to keep the players focused. There’s no particular team which worries us most. We will enter the finals without any fears,” he added.

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