Vietnam a tough team to play against: Iraq coach

By Lam Thoa   January 24, 2024 | 06:24 pm PT
Vietnam a tough team to play against: Iraq coach
Coach Jesus Casas during the press conference after the Iraq-Vietnam match in Asian Cup on Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Coach Jesus Casas admitted that Iraq faced difficulties in their 3-2 win over Vietnam in the final round of Asian Cup group stage on Wednesday night.

"The match against Vietnam was very difficult, especially in the first half when the opponent defended well," Casas said at the post-match press conference. "We had possession but didn’t create many opportunities."

After securing the top spot in group D, Casas still wanted to defeat Vietnam in the final round to finish the group stage with three wins. However, replacing eight key players in the lineup did not help Iraq create many chances in the first 45 minutes and they let Vietnam lead 1-0. It wasn't until the second half, when the key players came on that Iraq turned the game around and won 3-2.

"We made many changes in the second half after conceding and turned it around," Casas added. "Based on the game and the opponent, I made different adjustments to the lineup and tactics. Vietnam are not easy to play against and we had to struggle to win."

Iraq let Vietnam take the lead when Bui Hoang Viet Anh scored in the 42nd minute. However, Iraq had an advantage when Khuat Van Khang received two yellow cards and was sent off in the fourth minute of injury time in the first half.

In the second half, Iraq scored two goals from headers in the 48th and 73rd minutes, from defender Rebin Sulaka and striker Aymen Hussein.

Iraq had a chance to score another, but Hussein missed a penalty in the 83rd minute. They almost had to accept a draw when Nguyen Quang Hai equalized in the first minute of injury time. It wasn't until the 12th minute of injury time that Hussein completed his double, with a successful penalty to help Iraq win 3-2.

The hard-fought victory in the last minute also helped the Spanish coach realize things that need to be improved in Iraq.

"What happened shows that every match is difficult," Casas said. "We have to stay focused against every opponent, but it’s not always easy to do that.

"Of course, you always dream about winning the championship. We are not rated as highly as the other title contenders but hopefully, Iraq can succeed in this tournament."

Talking about the possibility of winning the Asian Cup, coach Casas said South Korea, Japan, Iran and Australia are the top contenders, followed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, then Iraq. In the round of 16, Iraq will face the third-placed team in group E or F, most likely Bahrain or Oman.

2023 Asian Cup: Iraq 3-2 Vietnam

go to top