Vieira returns as Iraq coach
Brazilian will sign a one-year contract to coach Iraq's national football team.
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2008 12:15 GMT

Iraq pulled out a surprise win at the Asian Cup last year [GALLO/GETTY]
Jorvan Vieira claimed that only a madman would take his job when he quit as Iraq coach last year after leading the side to an unlikely Asian Cup triumph.

Thirteen months and two failed coaches later, the Brazilian journeyman is back in charge of the same disorganised, rag-tag team he steered to a fairytale victory in Jakarta.

In May 2007, the 55-year-old Vieira inherited a team in total disarray, with slapdash preparations, no kit, few available players and ugly religious rifts between members of the squad.

Although the Asian Cup win made Vieira an instant hero in war-scarred Iraq, he rejected a lucrative contract extension, saying he feared he would need to be admitted to a mental asylum.

"Maybe I am crazy, I don't know," Vieira said.

"But everything I've asked for has been guaranteed. I believe the situation is different this time."

He had better hope so.

New conditions

"They're doing it the right way this time," Vieira said after a meeting with the country's sports minister.

"They promised no more headaches. I have set my conditions, my budget.

"I will decide how this team will be run. If not, I'll walk," he added.

However, little has changed since the "Lions of Mesopotamia" won the biggest prize in Asian soccer.

Rocky road

Three months ago, they narrowly escaped an international ban for political interference in sport, and their hopes of reaching their first World Cup in 24 years were buried when they conceded a late goal in their final qualifier against Qatar.

"It's a shame, it was a huge disappointment for the Iraqi people," said Vieira, who watched that match from the terraces of the Al Ahli stadium in Dubai, Iraq's makeshift home.

"They have always asked for me to come back, everyone, the kids, the fans, even the people in the street.

"This is why I have returned.

"When you feel that emotion, there is only one thing to do."

Challenges ahead

Although there will be no World Cup to contest, Vieira wants to win the upcoming Gulf Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup, a tournament for the champions of Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Concacaf region.

Despite being based in Dubai, Vieira wants to train the team and recruit new players in Baghdad, as well as other parts of the besieged country.

"This job will be exciting," he said.

"I will be reunited with the players and thousands more youngsters who want to play for their country now.

"They need a leader and I believe that person is me."

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