After steering Iraq into
the next phase of Asia's World Cup qualifiers, Zico plans to
widen his search for players until June when the team will play
for a berth at the 2014 finals in Brazil.
Former Brazil midfielder Zico said that on taking charge as
Iraq's coach in late August he had had to build his team quickly
because the qualifiers were upon them and he could not call up
all the players he wanted to.
Zico told Reuters he and his coaching staff knew little
about Iraq's players when they started and picked the team from
a squad of 27 that included 17 semi-professionals from the
"We lost our first match and won the other four and
qualified ahead of time," said former Japan coach Zico, whose
team went through alongside Jordan in Group A with a match to
"Now we'll have plenty of time to see other players, watch
championships... and widen our scope and the range of players,"
the 58-year-old said.
"I had to make practically the same call-ups [each time].
I'm going back to lead the team in the Arab League, I'm going to
bring on many reserves and Olympic-age players."
Zico said the challenge in Iraq was similar to the pressure
he experienced in the big clubs he coached like Fenerbahce in
Turkey or Olympiakos of Greece.
He said Baghdad had not recovered yet from the destruction
of war and could not stage international matches.
"We are aware of what football means to Iraqis and we want,
if possible, to continue giving joy to a suffering people," he
Zico was confident Iraq would qualify for the finals in his
home country, saying: "We're working for that and we have
qualities to fight for a place. We won the first stage."
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