Saudi Arabia or Qatar? 'It doesn't matter' who Iraq face in Asian Cup last 16, says Srecko Katanec
Manager in bullish mood after draw against Iran ensures Iraq finish second in group but also unbeaten in tournament
Iraq manager Srecko Katanec says he does not care who his side face in the last 16 of the Asian Cup as they bid for a deep run in the tournament.
The 2007 champions, semi-finalists at the most recent Asian Cup four years ago, concluded their Group D campaign on Wednesday night with a 0-0 draw against Iran in Dubai.
The result at Al Maktoum Stadium ensured Iraq’s unbeaten start to the event continues, although they still had to settle for second in the group because of their inferior goal difference to Iran.
They next take on the runner-up of Group E in the last 16 at Abu Dhabi’s Al Nahyan Stadium on Tuesday, with their opponent to be either Saudi Arabia or Qatar. Those two teams meet on Thursday in the capital in the final round of matches to decide who advances as pool winners.
Katanec, though, is happy to go up against whoever eventually ends up finishing second.
“I talked about this also in the last press conference, I think,” the former UAE manager said. “I really don’t care who we will play against. We have six days to the game, so we have time to prepare for the game. They will have one day less.
“We will see tomorrow who it will be, we will prepare the team and let’s go. If we want to win the title it’s not important who you play against. If you want to come to the end you have to beat every team.”
Asked how confident he is of Iraq going all the way this month, Katanec said: “I said before, we will go game by game, so we will see the next game, which we want to win, and then also the next game and we will see if we are successful.
“Every game is different: a different story, different teams, different circumstances, different referees. You never know what can happen. But we will recover and then prepare well. But yeah, it doesn’t matter, Saudi or Qatar. We will be ready on January 22.”
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Updated: January 17, 2019 08:45 AM