Cambodia welcome Iraq to the National Stadium this evening for the fourth game of their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Preliminary Joint Group Stage qualifier eager to avoid a repeat of last week’s 14-0 thrashing in Tehran by Iran.
“Iran deserved to win. They have stronger players, a stronger team, and that’s why they’re the top in Asia,” said Cambodia’s Argentinian head coach Felix G. Dalmas.
“Perhaps [Cambodia’s] performances against Pakistan, Bahrain, Hong Kong made [fans] misunderstand, he added.
“Like [General Manager] Keisuke [Honda] said, and what I said after those games and what I will say after this game is the same – we explained the way that we play. We need to improve and we do that by challenging. We went against one of the top teams in the world and it’s no coincidence that they [Iran] tied against Portugal and lost only 1-0 against Spain. It’s not a coincidence.”
Dalmas said that while he was concerned with the difference in physicality between Iran and Cambodia last Thursday, he felt his young Cambodian starlets had other attributes he hoped to nurture.
“For Cambodia, height, speed and strength are not our strengths but we have different talents, he said. And that’s what we are trying to bring out. And those sparks are what we saw when we played against Hong Kong, Pakistan, Bahrain. That’s what we are trying to achieve,” said Dalmas.
Cambodia are an outside bet for tonight’s match facing the former Asian champs and the 79th best national team in the world.
Iraq, currently second in the group, captured a remarkable 2007 AFC Asian Cup, widely regarded as one of the greatest upsets in sporting history as the war-torn nation became regional champions.