Carlos Queiroz, Srecko Katanec optimistic over Iran, Iraq clash

January 15, 2019 - 19:28

The battle for top spot in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will see Iran and Iraq facing off to keep their undefeated record when they clash at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Wednesday, with both head coaches are expecting a ‘good game’. Both sides booked their place in the Round of 16 after wins over Yemen and Vietnam, with Iran currently ahead on goal difference.

Iraq have also been impressive, coming back from a goal down twice to beat Vietnam 3-2 in their group opener, before confirming their spot in the knockout phase with an emphatic 3-0 win over Yemen.

Iraq head coach Srecko Katanec, while admitting his side is not the finished product, are confident of winning against Iran.

“We need grow together more as a team, to be more compact, and I know of many things that we need to do to improve.

“We are a good team, I have good guys and good atmosphere now (ahead of) game and I hope we will win.”

The former Slovenia boss his players are now burden-free, having secured their place in the knockout phase, but he has demanded for a good performance.

“It will be easier because we are already in the second round, so the players can play without pressure. I didn’t put any pressure (on them), they just need to try to do the things which we have talked about the past few days. If they do it, I am sure we will play a good game.

“We want to win, but my philosophy is like this; with good performances, I look forward to good games with good skills and many chances. When I see the team playing well, I am happy.”

Adding spice to the clash is the fact that four years ago, the two met in the quarter-finals, with Iraq winning on penalties.

Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz isn’t bothered about the past and is eagerly anticipating the match with the 2007 champions.

“We are excited for the game because I am sure it will be a great game for both teams, and for the fans of Iran and Iraq. So let’s enjoy and have some fun," said Queiroz.

“Nothing in football comes again. You never play the same two games, never the same competition twice, never make a simple training session two times in your life.

“So the match is a new beginning, a new story, a new game. Something that the players, coaches, the referees must be ready to write another script about in the game.

“Of course we can’t forget that we’re in the Asian Cup, a difficult competition. Everybody comes here with dreams, and now it’s time for us to express ourselves."

“What happened in the past doesn’t win and lose games. It doesn’t have any influence on our state of mind in this game, we’re just here to enjoy good games.

“All of us need to know why we are here. We are here to play for the people, the values that I have shared with my players; do it with full commitment, honesty, good fighting spirit and be loyal to the team.

"This will not be different, doesn’t matter if we play Iraq, who we respect, or Argentina. It’s always to respect the team that’s in front of us.”

(Source: the-afc)

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