Preview - Group D: Iraq v Vietnam
Abu Dhabi: Iraq may be a top side but a confident Vietnam fancy their chances going into Tuesday's AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Group D tie at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
A spectacular 2018, said head coach Park Hang-seo, will see Vietnam giving the Continental showpiece their all as the Southeast Asians look to better the quarter-final finish achieved in their last appearance in 2007.
Iraq head coach Srecko Katanec was equally bullish, citing a solid preparation for his confidence.
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"Our group is hard with three tough teams but we have worked hard and will do our best to get a result," said Hang-seo, who has worked wonders with Vietnam since taking over.
The Under-23 side emerged runners-up in the 2018 AFC U23 Championship and fourth in the 2018 Asian Games, while the squad in the UAE are coming from a successful AFF Cup campaign where Vietnam defeated Malaysia in the final.
"Obviously, we had a very good 2018 and the confidence in the team is very high. The people of Vietnam are also expecting more from us which means pressure as well as confidence for the team.
"However, we have worked very hard since the AFF Cup. Our focus has been on the AFC Asian Cup and the players are highly motivated.
"Iraq will be a challenge, as will (Islamic Republic of) Iran and Yemen. They are all good sides but so are we and we are looking to have a successful AFC Asian Cup."
Iraq head coach Katanec, at the helm for just over three months, is also satisfied with his team's preparation.
"What I can say is that we are prepared. Our (training) camp was good and the players are where I want them to be."
The Slovenian refused to be drawn into setting a target for his team even as comparisons are made with the title-winning side of 2007 and the one that finished fourth four years ago.
"The first match is always very important and that is what our focus is on now. If you ask me for a target, I will tell you that it is to win every game and if we do that, you know what it mean at the end."
Katanec was coy when asked about his the starting line-up, only saying: "I know the lineup, I'm fully convinced by my team, but as I said, we prepared very well but you never know as every game is a different story.
"We have qualities and if our players give everything, we will play a good game. About the result, you never but I am very confident with the team."
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