Ahead of final, Iraq’s Katanec already has what he came for
Karbala: Iraq are 90 minutes away from claiming the 2019 WAFF Championship title on home soil, but head coach Srečko Katanec says his objective from the tournament has already been achieved.
Unbeaten in the group stage, an Iraq side comprised primarily of youngsters and players from the Iraqi Premier League will go into Wednesday’s final against Bahrain as favourites.
But despite having the opportunity to win silverware, Katanec says his to-do list for the competition – which several teams have used as preparation for next month’s Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 – has already been ticked off.
Karbala: Hosts Iraq sealed their place in the 2019 WAFF Championship final with a 2-1 win over Yemen, while Palestine prevailed in a seven-goal epic against Syria as Group A concluded at Karbala Sports City on Sunday.
Iraq’s win sets up a meeting with Group B winners Bahrain in Wednesday’s decider, where the Lions of Mesopotamia will target their first WAFF title since 2002.
Ibrahim looking to deepen Syria’s pool ahead of Asian Qualifiers
Karbala: Fajr Ibrahim wants results at the 2019 WAFF Championship, but the Syrian head coach is also using the tournament as an audition process for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers.
Having gone closer than ever to reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals in Russia, Syria have cause to be optimistic about reaching Qatar, despite a largely disappointing run of results in 2019.
While star Saudi-based attacking duo Omar Al Soma and Omar Khribin were instrumental in the previous campaign, Ibrahim is using the 2019 WAFF Championship to give a number of fringe and home-based players the chance to press their case for selection.
Erbil: Kuwaiti stalwart Bader Al Mutawa hopes his side’s 2019 WAFF Championship campaign will be the first step on the road back to the top table of Asian football, after they began their campaign with a 2-1 win against Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Romeo Jozak’s side made what most would consider a dream start to life in Erbil, recovering from the concession of an early Rabee Sufyani goal to beat a youthful Saudi side, with Faisal Ajab emerging as the matchwinner.
The win was Kuwait’s first against a national team in 2019, and first outside of their homeland since 2015 after they spent nearly two years out of the international game.
Ould Ali’s Palestine building towards Asian Qualifiers
Karbala: Their bid for a first WAFF Championship title is far from over, but Palestine head coach Noureddine Ould Ali has one eye on his side’s Asian Qualifiers campaign for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, which begins in September.
A 1-0 opening match win against Yemen in Group A was followed up by a late 2-1 defeat to hosts Iraq on Friday in a mixed start to the regional championship, giving the Palestinians little room for error if they are to advance to the final on August 14.
But even if Palestine’s WAFF Championship tilt ends at the group stage, Ould Ali sees the competition as important preparation for the crucial Asian Qualifiers to come.
Renard targets teamwork and success for Saudi Arabia
Jeddah: Newly appointed head coach Hervé Renard has declared that a sense of unity will be key if Saudi Arabia are to have a successful future.
The Frenchman joined the Green Falcons ahead of their imminent FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers campaign, which begins in early September.
Renard - who became the first coach in history to win the Africa Cup of Nations title with two different nations when he led Zambia to glory in 2012 and succeeded again with Côte d’Ivoire three years later – was appointed following his resignation as Morocco national team head coach last month.