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Group C: Matchday Two Preview

Friday, January 12, 2018

Saudi Arabia coach Daniel Teglia is confident the determination his side showed to fight back for a point against Jordan in their opening game of the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship will ensure success against Iraq when they meet in the next round of games in Group C on Saturday.

Teglia’s team fought from two goals down to draw 2-2 with the Jordanians thanks to a pair of goals in the final minutes, and the Argentinian was encouraged by his players’ never-say-die attitude.

“Our group is a tough group,” he said. “The teams work well, they have an outstanding collective and physically they are so strong.

“We will try to play football our way, to maintain the ball on the ground and to infiltrate the space. I saw Iraq’s game against Malaysia and they’re a strong team and only the team who will impose his playing style on the game will win.

“As always in the first match, it leaves a stamp of identity on the tournament and we showed that the Saudi team have great heart and identity, that we’ll never surrender and play with a lot of personality.”

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Teglia’s team take on an Iraqi side that started the campaign with a comfortable 4-1 win over Malaysia, but despite the nature of the win coach Abdulghani Shahad is taking nothing for granted.

“In each match we will play our own system and the important thing is that we have three points and we have some players in this system who have grown together,” he said. “In general, we achieved the most important thing from the first game and now we are going to work out our tactics for the game against Saudi.

“We are thinking step-by-step and this group is not easy. It’s difficult and it’s open for all the teams.”

That defeat inflicted on Malaysia in their debut appearance at the tournament could have a demoralising effect on the Southeast Asians side, but Ong Kim Swee refused to be downhearted and vowed his team would fight to put on a positive performance against Jordan.

“It’s only one game that we have played, so we’re not going to throw in the towel just yet,” he said. “The positives that we had from the first game, we want to make sure we can do those more regularly and we will try to get something from the second game.”

Jordan’s Iain Brunskill will also be looking for his players to bounce back when they take on Malaysia after seeing them squander a two-goal advantage against Saudi Arabia.

“The first thing is to get a positive result,” said the English coach. “The way the group is looking now we need to win the next game. We’ll be getting the message to the players that we need to win and Malaysia will look to make that difficult for us.

“First we want an improved performance, even if a 2-2 draw against a nation like Saudi for us would be a good result for a country like Jordan. Hopefully we can get a positive performance and result to follow.”

Photos: AFC

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