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Iraq´s coach Vieira not taking Vietnamese lightly

20 July 2007 10:24

BANGKOK (AFP) - Iraq's Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira insisted Friday his side will not be taking Vietnam lightly when the teams meet here in the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

Iraq topped group A and are seen by most independent observers as the clear favourties to ease past plucky Vietnam on Saturday and qualify for the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur.

But Vieira is guarding against complacency in a tournament that has already seen its fair share of shock results.

"I think people are a little bit wrong because I have been talking with many people these last two days and they have asked me if this is an easy match," he said.

"I don't believe in this kind of thing. Football is decided on the field, not off the field or in the newspapers.

"We respect the Vietnam team. If they got to this stage of the competition we know they showed some qualities. They beat the UAE who won the Gulf Cup a few months ago."

Vieira is looking forward to some passionate support from hardcore Iraqi fans who have made the trip to Bangkok from Australia and Abu Dhabi.

Around 100 fans came from Australia to support the team before their impressive 3-1 victory over the Socceroos in the group stages and a chartered plane load of 300 fans is due to arrive on Friday from Abu Dhabi.

Defender Ali Hussein Rehema said the support of the fans has made a big difference.

"This is very important for us, especially the fans here in Bangkok," he said. "They have shown great support for us."

Vieira said the Iraqi diaspora has really got excited with the team's progress.

"Even in Morocco there is a big Iraqi community and my family told me that they go out into the streets in their cars and with flags," he said. "This is the best salary you can get as a coach."

Vieira also had some words of support for his Vietnam counterpart, Austrian Alfred Riedl, who had a kidney transplant earlier this year -- such is his popularity in Vietnam that more than 80 fans offered to donate their kidney.

"Riedl is a very good coach who I respect very much," said the Brazilian.

"After what happened to him a few months ago I am happy that I had the opportunity to meet him yesterday (Thursday).

"I'm happy to play against him but I won't give him a chance. He is a nice man and I respect and admire him."

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