12/30/2018 9:36:46 PM (GMT+3)

I took this job as a challenge because Iraq has a great past: Katanec

I took this job as a challenge because Iraq has a great past: Katanec

DOHA: Srecko Katanec has taken charge of Iraqi team just four back, but within such a short time the Slovenian has managed to forge a strong bond with the players and turned them into a fighting fit.

“Our preparations have gone well, very well, actually. Everything is ok. The team is ok. We have been in Qatar for 10 days now. The facilities have been excellent. Everybody is in fine spirits. We have no injured players,” Katanec told the-afc.com. “I took this job as a challenge because I know Iraq has a great past. They have a lot of talented players. I thought this was my chance for me to do something good for those guys.”

Katanec, who represented Yugoslavia at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games besides the European Championship in 1984 and the FIFA World Cup in 1990, is confident that Iraq will have a good tournament at the AFC Asian Cup.

“I don’t talk about chances because football is a very strange game. It has been just four months since I have been with them. But what I know is that they are a very happy group and they are fully committed,” said Katanec, considered one of the greatest players from Yugoslavia.

He has also played for Slovenia, besides coaching them for more than eight years in two stints.

Iraq is clubbed with Iran, Yemen and Vietnam in Group D and, Katanec said that it will be a challenge to advance to the next round.  

“Every match is difficult these days. You can have a bad day and lose what on paper should have been an easy match. That is why I respect all teams. For me, as a coach, the more difficult matches are against Yemen and Vietnam. They are also here to show they belong. They will fight. We will fight. Nothing is easy,” said Katanec.