AFC Asian Cup: Iraq set sights on sealing berth in last eight stage


AFC Asian Cup: Iraq set sights on sealing berth in last eight stage
Iraq's players celebrate their opening goal during the group stage match against Yemen at the Sharjah Stadium.

Abu Dhabi - Coach Katanec says the players need to show the right attitude

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Mon 21 Jan 2019, 9:06 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Jan 2019, 11:12 PM

Iraq coach Srecko Katanec is confident his players will play with the right attitude to beat Qatar and qualify to the quarterfinals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Katanec, who took charge last September, said he has seen some splendid performance from his players so far. "I am a new coach. I still don't know how they will react to a particular situation but till now I am pretty satisfied with their performance. I am confident. We are ready."
The coach noted the players need to show the right attitude to win in the knockout stage.
"Most of them are very talented. They just need to have the right attitude on the field. I know they are good players but maybe lack experience. We need experienced players to mix with young ones and play with passion. They need more organisation and responsibility. The players are strong on the ball but during the game some of them forget their job. I will be happy if they do their job. They need to leave the field happy that they have given everything," Katanec said in terse message to his players.
He said the often-made comparison with the team that won the Asian Cup in 2007 is uncalled for and puts undue pressure on the players.
"This is a new generation of players. My message to players is to go out, fight, play football and then we will see. I don't put pressure on them to win."
The coach said his players were prepared to tackle Qatar. "They played three games with 12 players. They play with many systems."
Iraqi midfielder Bashar Resan said all players were aware about their responsibilities. "We know it will be a difficult game. We aren't complacent but remain confident."
He added that football is the only source of happiness for Iraqis back home. "When we lifted the title in 2007, it was joyous occasion for all. We have promised our people about a positive result. I thank the UAE government for facilitating entry of as many fans as possible."
Meanwhile, Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said Iraqis were tough opponent and had competed very well so far in the tournament.
"Iraq got very talented players with lot of strengths. We respect them. We have to play a very good game to stand a chance to qualify into the next round. We got good results in the group stage and the players are confident."
Sanchez has analysed Iraq's strengths and weaknesses, and said his players were ready. "We have played them last year and have reference. We have different options for each game. We change few things according to our opponents."
We can field any of the 23 players depending on the situation," the coach said.
Experienced midfielder Ali Hassan Afif noted most players were a young but learning fast.
"We need to focus on ourselves. Our level in this tournament has shown that we can compete against Iraq," Ali Hassan added.

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