BANGKOK (AFP) - Iraq are thrilled to be staying in Bangkok to face Vietnam in their Asian Cup quarter-final and avoiding defending champions Japan in Hanoi on Saturday.
The Iraqis won group A after securing a point in a scoreless draw with Gulf rivals Oman at the same time as Australia finished second in the pool with a 4-0 win over Thailand across town.
The Socceroos now face the challenging assignment of moving camp to Vietnam to take on Japan.
Vietnam, playing in their first Asian Cup finals for 47 years, have caused an upset by reaching the last eight and a trip to neighbouring Thailand.
Their quarter-final berth came despite losing 4-1 to Japan after the United Arab Emirates ended Qatar's chances with a 2-1 win in group B.
It will be the first meeting between Iraq and Vietnam, with the Iraqis sensing they have a great chance of making the semi-finals.
"The most important thing for us is we are staying in Bangkok regardless of who we are facing in the quarter-final," Iraq's Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira said Tuesday.
"Vietnam is a strong team with very fast players, but meeting them in Bangkok is different from Hanoi where they have great home backing."
Hussein Saeed, head of the Iraq FA, said the team had been gearing to stay in Bangkok for its quarter-final.
"We were planning from the beginning to head the group so to avoid the hassle of travelling and getting used to another environment," he said.
"By doing so we also avoided playing Japan in the second round which is a relief as well.
"We did well in the first round considering the difficulties we had before the tournament and the icing on the cake was the 3-1 win over Australia".
It continues a wonderful tournament for Iraq, whose progress at the Asian Cup has been greeted with wild celebrations on the streets of the team's strife-torn homeland.
"I would love to be celebrating in the streets of Baghdad with the Iraqi people and share their happiness," Vieira said.
|26||Ali Al Habsi|
|6||Issam Al Sinani|
|8||Bader Al Maimani|
|20||Emad Al Hosani||45'|
|15||Ismail Al Ajmi|
|Coach: G. Calderón|
for Ismail Al Ajmi 67'
for Fawzi Bashir 69'
for Ahmed Hadid 81'
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