Iraq coach Chitheer dedicates first U-17 World Cup win to country

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Kolkata, Oct 12 (IANS) Iraq coach Qahtan Chitheer has dedicated the team’s first win in a FIFA Under-17 World Cup to the people of the country, stating it was more of tactics that won them the battle against Chile in a Group F tie on Wednesday night.

Iraq blanked a rudderless Chile 3-0 to register their first ever win in an Under-17 FIFA World Cup and stayed firmly in contention for a knockout berth in the competition.

“I would like to congratulate Iraqi people. Chile are a strong side. We played very well against Mexico and this match as well. We are Asian Under-16 champions and played very well there as well. We knew Chile’s strengths and weaknesses and we used that to our effect,” Chitheer told reporters at the post match press conference.

Iraq were crowned the 2016 AFC u-16 champions in Goa last year. Chitheer said they have been working with the boys for the last 2-3 years and that the emphasis was on tactics which, he said, wins you games in modern day football.

“We have been working with this team for more than 2-3 years. We have been working with tactics which are very important in modern football, even with the U-17 team,” Chitheer emphasised.

“The important thing is that the players know their duties. As you saw against Mexico, we played long balls behind the defenders using the speed of (striker) Mohammed Dawood. In this match, we played short passes and this strategy has been achieved by training and now it was in the match.”

Iraq and Iran, who beat heavyweights Germany by a whopping margin of 4-0 to pull of the tournament’s biggest upset so far in group C, were the finaists in the AFC U-16 meet.

Iraq edged past their Asian counterparts on tie-breakers after the two teams could not be separated in regulation and extra time.

Asked if playing in India a year before the World Cup gave the two teams an added advantage, coach Chitheer said: “We work with these team for 2-3 years. Both Iraq and Iran played some matches in AFC Championships in India last year. Iraq and Iran are the two finalists of this championship. We are playing the team that will take part in AFC U-19 championship next year.”

Iraq are second in Group F having four points from two matches. WIth one foot on the quarter-final berth, how will they approach a strong England side in their last engagement on Saturday?

“England are a very good team and have talented players. Each match has its own circumstances and we will play differently to the way we played against Mexico and Chile,” the coach said.

The star of the match between Iraq and Chile was Dawood, who scored a brace (sixth and 68th minutes).

He missed out on a hat-trick when his penalty was blocked by goalkeeper Rodrigo Cancino in the dying minutes of the tie.

“We play as a team. Dawood is good and talented. Each player has own skills. Dawood is good in free kicks and we have some players who can take these kicks too,” the coach said when asked about the Baghdad lad’s searing pace and skill on the ball, besides he being the free kick taker of the team.

Iraq, who had lost all their three group matches in their only previous appearance in the tourney in 2013, managed their first point on Sunday when they warmed their way into the fans’ hearts by holding two-time champions Mexico to a 1-1 draw.

–IANS

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