Quarter-final Preview: Lebanon v Iraq
Taipei: Lebanon and Iraq square off in an all West Asian affair in the AFC Futsal Championship 2018 quarter-final tie on Thursday, and both are anticipating an intriguing and thrilling match.
Group D winners Lebanon began their campaign with a draw against Kyrgyz Republic but went on to upset Thailand and Jordan to claim top spot, while Iraq bounced back from two goals down to beat China PR in their opener and secured a 3-2 win over Myanmar, before falling to defending champions Islamic Republic of Iran 5-3, to finish as Group C runners-up.
Despite ending their group stage with a loss, head coach Haitham Abbas said the match against Iran served as preparation for their tie against the Lebanese.
“The game against Iran was a really difficult game for us,” said the former Naft Al Wasat coach.
“Both of us had already qualified, so the goal of that game was to sharpen our players for the quarter-final with Lebanon, and unfortunately we lost, but it was still a good experience.”
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The two sides recently met in Beirut in friendlies, where Iraq suffered two losses against Lebanon (5-1 and 3-2), but Abbas claims that his charges has performed better in an official tournament.
“Lebanon are a really good team, and we know it will be a difficult match.
“We had a camp in Lebanon and it was really important. And although we lost both friendlies, we have to acknowledge that those results were just preparation.
“There is a big difference in playing a friendly and an AFC Futsal Championship match. Everything is different, and we have improved since.”
Lebanon head coach Shahab Sofalmanesh agreed with Abbas on the difference of intensity, but the former Tasisat Daryaei FSC coach took the friendly as a medium to examine his team and said: “There’s a difference between a friendly and an official tournament, no doubt.
“We faced each other recently, but what we took from that friendly wasn’t just to know more about each other, but about ourselves, and how we can improve on our mistakes.
“We know Iraq have shown great qualities, especially in their game against Iran. Their players are experienced, tough and aggressive, but with confidence on our side, we will look for the best result.