With the the spot atop Group D on the line, Iraq coach Srecko Katanec is optimistic ahead of their pending clash against Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iraq are currently second behind IR Iran in the standings but both have won their first two matches – with Iraq beating Vietnam 3-2 before notching a hard-fought 3-0 victory over Yemen.
After their win in the second match of the competition, Katanec was happy with how his team performed.
Speaking to AFC, he said: “We played such a good game, I congratulated all the players, they did the job well. So now we know we are through (qualified for the knockout round) from this group.. and that is the most important thing.
“We still have a game to play against Iran. We played good football (against Yemen), we scored early and that was difficult for Yemen after being two goals down. We should have scored more but I’m very satisfied with my team’s performance.
“Maybe we could have scored more and played more aggressively in attack but you also must know how to play the game when you’re leading by two goals.”
The Iraqi coach hailed his striker Mohanad Ali Kadhim for his performances, but also believes the team need to perform better in the coming matches of the competition.
“Mohanad played a solid game today. He showed great character on the field. I know we can play better than this and we should play better if we want to win matches.”
Speaking about the match on hand, Katanec said: “You can’t compare the match we had with Vietnam and against Yemen. Vietnam played very fluid football for the first 45 minutes and we came out on top. Against Yemen, were a little complacent and maybe that’s why we need to play a strong team, on paper, like Iran.
“Maybe I’ll give chances for the other players in the next game. We will see. I can’t say for sure what my tactics will be against Iran, maybe three at the back, four or even five.”