Iraq coach vows to attack Iran in World Cup qualifier

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Arab News – DOHA, Dick Advocaat’s first match in charge of Iraq resulted in a vital point against South Korea in Seoul.

Both teams look to maintain their unbeaten starts in the third round of Asian Football Confederation qualifiers

Iraq and Iran will aim to maintain their unbeaten starts to the third round of Asian Football Confederation qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup when they clash at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Tuesday night.

Dick Advocaat’s first match as coach of Iraq brought a commendable goalless draw against South Korea in Seoul as the Dutchman set up his side to absorb the home team’s pressure.

It was a frustrating night for the Koreans who held a majority of the possession but could not break down the Iraqi defense.

Iran, on the other hand, produced the only win in Group A on Matchday 1, thanks to captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s strike against Syria. The win propelled Team Melli atop the group with three points, two clear of the four other sides that drew in the previous round of matches.

Advocaat has vowed to take a more attacking approach against Iran on Tuesday.

“We played really well defensively in the last game,” said Advocaat, whose team has not advanced to the World Cup since 1986.

“We will play a lot more offensively in the next game, which will be an extremely important one for us. We only started preparing for the games two weeks ago and half of our squad consists of new players.”

Iraq and Iran split their previous two meetings. The Lions of Mesopotamia recorded a 2-1 home win on Nov. 14, 2019, while Iran won the return leg at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran on June 15, thanks to a winner by Sardar Azmoun. After he missed Matchday 1 due to suspension, Azmoun will return to the Iran lineup for Tuesday’s cross-border clash.

Azmoun is back but Iran coach Dragan Skočić continues to recover from COVID-19 as the team will once again be overseen by assistant Marijo Tot.

“We saw how Japan was defeated at home by Oman and the Korean Republic and Iraq drew in Seoul,” said Tot, whose team is trying to make a third consecutive World Cup appearance.

“This shows that the teams are close and winning requires hard work.”

Tuesday’s fixture will be the sixth World Cup qualifier between the two sides as Iran has an edge in the series, 3-2.

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