Monday, March 20, 2023 | Sha'ban 27, 1444 H
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Iraq coach hopes players can step up further


Despite Iraq’s 2-0 win against UAE on Friday, coach Sercko Katanec, head coach of Iraq team, was not satisfied with the performance produced by the players during the game.

“We reached six points and registered a second successive win. This is the positive part but we have to work hard to eliminate the individual mistakes occurred in the match,” the Slovenian coach said.

Iraq players booked their direct ticket to the semis after their crucial wins against the hosts Qatar 2-1 n the opening match and 2-0 against UAE at Khalifa International Stadium on Friday. One more match is pending for Iraq which is expected to be easier than the previous matches. The Group A topper will take on Yemen on Monday while Qatar will meet UAE.

Ali Mabkhout and his team-mates failed to break the tough Iraqi defence to score the goals.

Katanec said during the post match press meet that the team did not receive any goals in the match. “We need to develop the team for the upcoming matches. There was some weakness in some pace of playing with individual technical mistakes. The physical fitness need to be improved in better conditions,” Sercko Katanec added.

Commenting on the next game against Yemen, he said: ‘‘The team secured their qualification to the next round. I need to do some changes in the squad for the next match. I am respecting the Yemeni team but the technical aspect required to do some quite changes in the starting list of the match”.

“In same, it is a golden opportunity for the players to get rest and to join some new faces and allow them to provide their best efforts,” Katanec concluded.

Coach Van Marwijk’s boys fall back in the second match after their strong start against Yemen with a comfortable 3-0 win in the opening match. Marwijk reasoned his team’s loss to the lack of effectiveness at the box zone and creating less scoring attempts.

“The players delivered a good match especially in the second half. The opponent players were under pressure. However, we missed presence of real activeness and the right ability to create opportunities to score,” the Dutchman added.

The UAE coach said there were some plans for the players during the break to bring the team to the original position. “The team as mentioned were better in the second half but without any changes in the result and we could not score due to the absence of the scoring chances,” Van Marwijk told the reporters in the press conference.

Coach Marwijk said the team is featuring many new young faces. “We have to give them the encouragement and they have the capability to perform better in the next matches. We are looking forward for a better performance against the hosts Qatar in the next match,” Marwijk concluded.

After the completion of second round matches of Group A, Iraq is topping the group by six points. The hosts are placed in the second position and possess three points with a goal preference than the UAE team. Yemen team are at the bottom of the group without any point.

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