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Preview MD3 - Group A: Thailand vs Iraq

Bangkok: With a place in the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 quarter-finals at stake, head coach Abdulghani Shahad has called on Iraq to produce an improved performance when they face Thailand in Tuesday’s crucial Group A encounter at the Rajamangala Stadium.

After coming from behind on Matchdays One and Two to secure draws against both Australia and Bahrain, Iraq head into the encounter knowing that a win would take them through to the last eight at the expense of the hosts.

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However, the competition’s inaugural champions have undoubtedly been far from their best in Southeast Asia, indifferent form which has led Shahad to demand more from his charges as they look to maintain their bid for a second title at this level.



“The next match will be decisive for us,” said the former defender who assumed his current role with Iraq in 2015.

“We have to review our whole situation and [wherever possible] try to avoid repeating all the mistakes that we were committing in our first two matches.

“We also have to work on making the most of the chances we get in front of goal so that we do not repeat what happened in our opening fixtures.”

#AFCU23 - MD2 Group A: Bahrain 2-2 Iraq

Although he has yet to decide on Iraq’s starting eleven for the game, Shahad is adamant that there are plenty of options available to him ahead of the decisive showdown.

“We have several choices as regards to the players that we can use in the match against Thailand,” he said. “But we only have a short time to fix things and work on getting three important points from the match, a game which is our last hope.”

Meanwhile, Thailand head coach Akira Nishino has called on his players to raise the bar once again as they go in search of the one point that would take them through to the knockout phase.

“After overseeing our preparations for the tournament, I think the players have done better than I expected,” declared the Japanese tactician.

#AFCU23 - MD2 Group A: Australia 2-1 Thailand

“As of now, we only have three points but I believe that the players are doing their absolute best. Perhaps more than that, the players are challenging themselves. They are identifying their own weaknesses and improving them.

“For the next game which will decide whether we go through or not, we will in all likelihood focus on improving once again. Of course, we have to assess the fitness and recovery levels of the players but we will do our utmost to be ready for the game.”

Thailand v Iraq
Venue: Rajamangala Stadium (Bangkok)
Kick-off: 20:15 (UTC +7)

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