We probably could have scored more: Iraq coach
Iraqi players celebrating a goal against Yeman.
Sharjah - This victory came after their dramatic 3-2 win over Vietnam in their opening game
By Rituraj Borkakoty
Published: Sat 12 Jan 2019, 9:52 PM
Last updated: Sat 12 Jan 2019, 11:55 PM
Having booked their place in the Round of 16 with a their second straight win in Group D, Iraq's Slovenian coach Srecko Katanec hinted that he might rest some of his players in their final group game against arch-rivals Iran on Wednesday.
The winners of that game will take the Group D honours - even a draw will help Iran finish on top due to their better goal difference.
But Katanec, the former UAE coach, says there is no shame in finishing second in the group.
"Against Iran, maybe, we will play some new players. I haven't decided yet, but yes, there is a chance that you could see some new players in that game. Maybe some players need a rest. Maybe it's better to be second (in the group)," Katanec said at the post-match press conference at the Sharjah Stadium on Saturday night.
Brilliant individual goals in the first half from Mohanad Ali Kadhim and Bashar Resan Bonyan and a 91st minute goal from substitute Alaa Abbas Abdulnabi gave the 2007 Asian Cup champions a comfortable 3-0 win over debutants Yemen on Saturday. "We played a good game. The players did their job well. We have now qualified for the knockout round. And that is the most important thing. We probably could have scored more, but I am happy overall with the performance," Katanec said. This victory came after their dramatic 3-2 win over Vietnam in their opening game. "Vietnam was the first game of the tournament for us. There was a bit of pressure, of course. Also, Vietnam played 45 minutes of top class football. They were very fast and very strong. It was a very difficult game for our team," Katanec said.
"You can't compare these two teams because Vietnam is a better team. Vietnam scored two goals, but one of them was an own goal and the other goal we could have prevented with better level of concentration." Meanwhile, Yemen coach Jan Kocian said it was difficult for his inexperienced team to compete with strong teams like Iran and Iraq in a tough group. "We tried our best. We have very strong opponents in our group. Iran is probably the number one team in the tournament ," the coach said.
"After 20 minutes if you are losing 2-0 to Iraq and after 30 minutes if you are losing 3-0 to Iran, it's very difficult. I told the players before the game today that they should put up a performance that will earn them respect. I think they played better in the second half today," the coach added.