The real Asia Cup starts now, says Iran coach Queiroz
Carlos Queiroz was happy with the way his team fought against Iraq
Dubai - Carlos Queiroz says 0-0 draw with Iraq was a fair result
By Rituraj Borkakoty
Published: Wed 16 Jan 2019, 10:56 PM
Last updated: Thu 17 Jan 2019, 12:59 AM
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz was never as animated in the dugout as his counterpart Srecko Katanec during the intense battle for the Asian Cup Group D top spot between arch-rivals Iran and Iraq at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Wednesday night.
But the Portuguese manager didn't shy away from admitting that the hard-fought goalless draw left him drained.
"I have no energy now. It was so intense, but it was played in good spirits. There was lot of excitement in both teams," Queiroz said after his team clinched the top spot in Group D on goal difference as both sides finished with seven points.
The draw, according to the former Manchester United assistant coach, was a fair result.
"We controlled the game. In the first half, we played better. We created two chances. The second half, it was 50-50. At the end of the day, for the commitment and the effort from both teams, I think the draw was a fair result," he said.
As the tackles kept flying, referee Ravshaan Irmatov was under immense pressure, but the Uzbek official earned praise from Queiroz.
"Today, we saw three great teams. The third team was of the officials. The referee was fantastic. The referee has lot of experience. Some of the decisions were not easy. But he showed why he is a great referee," Queiroz said.
After having scored seven goals in their first two games against Yemen and Vietnam, Iran faced their toughest opponents in Group D. And their coach was happy with the way they fought against Iraq.
"We played a very good game against a very tough team. My players came out with great character," Queiroz said.
"When it's necessary to play, they play. When it's necessary to fight, they fight. Now they must be ready to play the game that is in front of them."
In the Round of 16, Iran will face the third-placed team from either Group B, Group E or Group F on Sunday.
"We will try to be mentally fresh for the next game because now the real Asian Cup starts. From now on, only the team that wins will survive," the Iran coach said.
"For us, our goal was to qualify. After the first two games, we felt that we could be top of the group. Another goal was to give opportunity to some players against Iraq. We made five changes. All of them showed that they are ready to compete."