Iraq need to play 'perfect' match to beat Jordan in Asian Cup last-16 clash

Manager Jesus Casas warns his side they must not underestimate opponents as they aim to repeat 2007 glory

Iraq coach Jesus Casas, right, celebrates with his players after their Asian Cup Group D victory over Indonesia. Reuters
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Iraq manager Jesus Casas has played down his side’s favourites tag in their Asian Cup last-16 encounter with Jordan, saying they need to be “perfect” if they are to keep alive their chances of winning a second continental title.

The 2007 champions have been one of the standout sides in Qatar this month, with their 2-1 victory against supposed tournament front-runners Japan the most notable result of the group stages.

Iraq progressed to the knockouts not simply as winners of Group D, but as one of only three teams to do so with a 100 per cent record. Jordan, meanwhile, won one of their three matches to advance as one of the four best third-placed sides.

The two teams meet on Monday at the Khalifa International Stadium, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.

Speaking in Doha on Sunday during the official pre-match press conference, Casas said: "It’s the same as the other days. I’m sure tomorrow will be a very difficult match – we are very similar in our style – and I hope to win, obviously.

“We can win all matches, but it doesn’t depend on us. We need to give 200 per cent in our matches. If we make a perfect match, it is possible to win. But if we make one mistake in this tournament, you say 'bye bye'."

Iraq, the current Arabian Gulf champions, are being tipped by many to go deep in the competition, and possibility even emulate their famous side of 2007. That Asian Cup title success is widely considered the country’s greatest international footballing achievement.

Casas, though, was keen on Sunday to temper expectation.

“We are in the same position as at the beginning,” said the Spaniard, a former assistant to Luis Enrique with Spain's national team. “Obviously we are very confident after three matches, but it’s not enough.

“OK, it was amazing when we beat Japan, but it was only one match. If we win the Asian Cup, we have to win four matches more. So it won’t be easy.

“We have possibilities to win the cup, but a little possibility. Because Japan, South Korea, Iran, Australia, Saudi, Qatar – there are very, very strong teams if you compare with us.

“But we fight to win this tournament. But I don’t know what will happen.”

Casas added: "We are very happy with our tournament until now and I think the Iraqi people are very proud of the players and their performance.

"But tomorrow we have a very, very, very hard match against a very, very good team.

"In any match, all is possible – one red card, one penalty, one mistake, nervousness, so we aren't favourites."

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Updated: January 28, 2024, 11:18 AM