confederations cup

Pressure is on South Africa, Iraq coach claims

June 12, 2009

All the pressure will be on hosts South Africa in Sunday's opening match of the Confederations Cup, giving Iraq a good chance of an upset win, the underdogs' coach said on Friday.

"We don't feel any pressure, the question is for who is the real pressure? For me, normally the pressure is on the local team," said Bora Milutinovic. "That is good for us."

Serbian-born Milutinovic, who holds the record for the most appearances as a coach at World Cup finals, only took over Iraq in April.

"I don't want it to sound like excuses. We are so happy to be here and we've had enough time to get ready for the games. This is an excellent opportunity for us to represent Iraq and to give pleasure to the Iraqi people," he said.

The much-travelled Milutinovic, who has previously coached Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Nigeria and China, said Iraq had no set target for the tournament.

"But we dream. I know it's very difficult, it's a tough competition but you need to believe always."

Iraq meet South Africa in the opening Group A match at Johannesburg's Ellis Park of the eight-nation competition, a dress rehearsal for the World Cup in a year's time.

They qualified for the Confederations Cup after their upset win in the 2007 Asian Cup, but failed to make it to the final stages of the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup.