Vieira seeks peace and happiness

Jorvan Vieira sets his sights on the Asian Cup quarter-finals and harmony in Iraq.

    Jorvan Vieira: A very happy man [AFP]


    Jorvan Vieira has managed teams around the globe from his native Brazil to Kuwait, Morocco to Malaysia, along with a string of clubs around the Middle East.

    Perhaps his most challenging role has been to take the job as coach of the Iraq national team little more than one month before the start of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup tournament.

    The 54-year-old was instated as coach of Iraq after Akram Salman, former manager, led the side to a disappointing first round exit in the Gulf Cup in January.

    The pressure was on Vieira as Iraq have qualified for the quarter-finals in the last three Asian Cup tournaments, and there is much expectation from Iraq football fans who are looking for a positive outlet from the depressing news of daily bombings and killings.

    "Not a magician"

    A draw against hosts Thailand in the opening match of the tournament and a big win over highly fancied Australia have put Iraq in a great position to qualify for their fourth successive quarter-finals and to go even further at the continental competition for the first time.

    "The congratulations should not go to me. It should go to my players, my staff who are working behind me," a humble Vieira told a press conference after his side's stunning 3-1 victory over the Socceroos.

    "Because without these people I can not do anything.

    "I'm not a magician."

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    Whatever Vieira claims, his brief spell with the Iraqis has conjured up a squad that is playing with discipline, character and teamwork, which is a great credit to the coach whose side often play and train outside their country due to ongoing civil unrest.

    "There is one reason to be happy for me personally, because today they are going to take their guns and shoot to the air," the coach said of football fans in Iraq.

    "This is usual in Iraq when the national team wins.  They take their guns and they shoot to the air.

    "It's much better than shooting someone else, and maybe we have 90 minutes of peace, maybe a few more days of peace, and we are here for that."

    Confidence building

    Iraq need just a point from their final group match against the winless Oman on Monday to ensure a place in the second round, and can still top Group A which would mean a quarter-final match at the Rajamangala National Stadium in Thailand.

    "This is the first step. We have our own confidence since we came here," Vieira said.

    "There is a long way to go, we have a right to dream but we have to keep our feet on the floor. We have to be realistic."

    Vieira is easily one of the most amicable and approachable coaches at the Asian Cup.

    His down to earth demeanour, humility in victory and easy going nature have surely rubbed off on his youthful team, something he clearly takes pride in as he sets about bringing hope through football to a troubled nation.

    "I'm very proud, and I think if we can help Iraq in this way to bring peace and happiness, I'll be a very happy man in my life," an emotional Vieira told Al Jazeera.

    If peace and happiness are the results of Iraq's footballing success, many others around the globe will be more than happy with Jorvan Vieira.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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