Maulings put Vieira job in doubt
Iraq coach gets lukewarm message from boss as beaten side go into last Gulf Cup tie.
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2009 19:25 GMT

Vieira lifts the Asian Cup in 2007 after a string of stunning victories [AFP]
When you're hot you're hot.

And when you're not...well, you're Jorvan Vieira.

The Iraq coach met with astounding success just weeks after taking over the national team, winning the Asian Cup for the first time in the country's history in July 2007.

Vieira masterminded a 3-1 hammering of favourites Australia and a shootout win over South Korea on the way to beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final.

One of the greatest achievements in the story of Asian football came after Vieira had found the Iraqi team in disarray, with no kit, a squad divided along religious lines and with the backdrop of the country's savage war.

But the much-travelled Brazilian – who has already left and been reinstated in the post since that victory – now finds his job in doubt after his side's early exit from the 19th Gulf Cup in Oman.

Leaking goals

With seven goals conceded in their two group A matches, one scored and three players sent off, the 'Lions of Mesopotamia' have not lived up to expectations.

The best teams can be exposed under the microscope of international competition, and despite Vieira's bristling defiance at press conferences in Muscat, his bosses have failed to come out and support him.

"When the players produce this low level of performance, we have to study why. This is normal," Dr Samir Moslet, president of the Iraq Olympic Committee, said on Friday.

"We now have to find solutions.

"The coach is reponsible for part of it but so are the players and the federation.

"Nothing has been decided about the coach's future – it has to be discussed by the federation.

"Whether we decide to keep him or lose him, it's the federation's decision."

Home sweet home

Ibrahim shows the lads how it's done [AFP]
With the elation of Oman's 4-0 drubbing of Iraq fading into a satisfied lull in the Sultanate, Claude Le Roy's team return to the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Saturday for a match with Bahrain in which a draw will be enough to see them through.

The unbeaten Omanis are a point ahead of Bahrain, who need a win to be sure of qualifying for the semi-finals.

A draw will be enough for the islanders, however, if Kuwait – who also have four points – are beaten by Iraq.

Despite the tumble that his opponents have taken, Kuwaiti coach Mohammed Ibrahim – who has worked with Vieira at club and national level – refuses to be complacent as his side go for their 10th Gulf Cup title.

Class war

"I think that the student will beat the teacher," he said with a smile on Friday.

"Up to now Iraq didn't show their true performance.

"In the first game (3-1 to Bahrain) they had a red card in the first half and that made it very difficult for them.

"Now the players will fight to show their real face."

Ibrahim also had words of support for his mentor, calling him "a good coach and a great professional."

Vieira, visibly angry at previous press conferences, failed to show after the thrashing against Oman.

Wounded pride

He can only hope that his team's pride is equally wounded if they are not to travel home pointless from this competition.

Oman kick off against Bahrain at 14:00 GMT, with Iraq facing Kuwait at the Royal Oman Police Stadium at the same time on Saturday.

Qatar play Yemen while defending champs UAE face Saudi Arabia in the last matches in group B on Sunday.

The winners of each group will play the runners up on January 14, with the final taking place on January 17.

Al Jazeera
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