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Ciobotariu wants Lebanon to hit the ground running against DPR Korea


Beirut: Head coach Liviu Ciobotariu has been drumming into his Lebanon side the importance of their opening Asian Qualifiers Group H match against DPR Korea on Thursday.

Lebanon face DPR Korea in Pyongyang and Romanian Ciobotariu wants a positive result to set Lebanon up nicely for their bid to advance to the third round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

With Korea Republic, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka also in the group, Ciobotariu wants points on the board as quickly as possible.

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"All the players must be ready in order to celebrate through all obstacles. I believe that you should take responsibility and have a family spirit among you," said Ciobotariu, who took over as head coach in June replacing Miodrag Radulovic.

Former professional footballer Ciobotariu, 48, has already seen Lebanon in competitive action as he guided them during the recent 2019 WAFF Championship, where The Cedars failed to progress from the group stage.

Ciobotariu, however, won't be too concerned about that as the target is the Asian Qualifiers, where a top two finish in the group will mean early qualification for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 and a tilt at making the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.

The West Asians second appearance at the AFC Asian Cup Finals ended in heartbreak at UAE 2019, with Lebanon failing to advance to the knockout stage on the Fairplay Rule and Ciobotariu is determined they will be in China 2023.

Lebanon leave for Pyongyang on Monday and Ciobotariu named a 22-player squad for the opening match, with first choice goalkeeper Mahdi Khalil (pictured below) left out.

Al Ahed's Khalil suffered a head injury in an Arab Club Championship tie against Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad on Saturday and Ciobotariu said the player's steadying influence will be missed.

Lebanon Squad

Goalkeepers: Mostafa Matar, Ali Daher.
Defenders: Nour Mansour, Mootaz Jounaidi, Mohamed Zein Tahan, Kassem El Zein, Hassan Chaito, Alexander Michel Melki, Hussein El Zein.
Midfielders: Mohamad Haidar, Nader Matar, Adnan Haidar, Samir Ayass, Felix Michel Melki, Hussein Monzer.
Forwards: Hassan Maatouk, Hassan Chaito Moni, Rabih Ataya, Hilal El Helwe, Omar Chaaban, Mohamad Kdouh, Ahmad Hijazi.

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