Sunday, June 4, 2023

U-17 WC: Iran coach rues lack of international exposure


Kolkata, Oct 9 (IANS) Following his team’s impressive 1-1 draw against two-time champions Mexico in their Group F match here, Iraq coach Qahtan Chitheer has lamented the missed opportunities to train in Europe ahead of the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup for better preparations.

“Our facilities were not that good. Also we are not well organised and don’t have high standards. We played matches against average teams (in the run up to the tournament). I wish we played in Europe against very strong teams. But due to our financial shortage, this is what we have and this is what we did,” Chitheer said after the Asian U-16 champions rode star striker Mohammed Dawood’s 16th minute strike to hold Mexico to a draw on Sunday evening.

On their next opponents Chile, who were put to bed by a strong England side in Sunday’s first header with a 0-4 verdict, Chitheer said: “Chile is not an easy team. They have good players and are strong physically. They have good tactics as well. So, we will give our best against them.”

Having lost all the group matches in their only other appearance in the U-17 World Cup four years ago, the Iraqis have got their first ever point in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Mexico coach Mario Arteaga lauded Iraq’s performance, backing his statement a day ahead of the match that Iraq are the most balanced side in Group F.

“We have a draw. We tried to win but this is football. Defensively Iraq is really strong, they have two lines. We are looking forward for the next match,” Arteaga said at the post-match media interaction,” he said.

Asked whether Dawood caused them a lot of problems with his pace and the fact that Mexico played a high line in defence, the coach said: “Dawood has great skills. He is fast and really smart. He can switch the game at many different levels. Iraq has a game of long balls and they use the speed of this good player to surge ahead.”

“To begin a World Cup is not easy. There are a lot of nerves.

“For us, the first 20-25 minutes to be down with a goal was difficult. At half-time, we knew we had to attack and draw level. The first objective was to get a draw if not a win. And finally, the team did not reach the goal of victory but it was a good match,” Arteaga said reflecting on the match.

Mexico take on a star-studded England next who looked impressive in their 4-0 win against Chile.

“It’s a very tough match. As I mentioned yesterday, they have really good players. They are fast. It’s not a surprise to us the England win. We have to think of victory when we meet them. We have to attack and show the good things of Mexico,” Arteaga said.

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