By Shoubhik Mukhopadhyay,
AIFF Media Team
DOHA: Air Force Clu, Iraq is going to be the sixth Iraqi team to feature in the Final of a continental club competition when they take on JSW Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup final at the Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium (Qatar Sports Club) on November 5, 2016.
A day prior to the big day, Coach Basim Qasim commented the Official pre-match Press Conference: “We’re very much aware of what damage they can do and we’re working on our potentials to clinch the AFC Cup silverware tomorrow, first Iraqi Club to do so.”
He added: “Obviously, there have been disturbances and we’ve coped well with them. I personally thank FIFA and AFC from the bottom of my heart for letting us play here. We’ve to keep the momentum going on to finish off the business.”
Nevertheless, Air Force Club, as commonly known amongst the Football fans, are the last team from the famous ‘Baghdad’s Big Four’ quartet to feature on the continental stage final.
Al Shorta reached the Asian Club Championship finals in 1971, Al Talaba and Al Zawraa fought for Asian Cup Winners’ Cup glory in 1995 and 2000. But, none of them could finish at the Winner’s podium eventually.
On being asked whether this fact is going to put his Team under any pressure before the final, the Coach negated: “Not really.”
“Back in our national league, everyone is our rival. But here it’s different and we have to play up to our potential to let the monkey off our back.”
Referring to a question as to whether physically superiority would play as an advantage for them, Skipper Ali Al Said stated otherwise. “I don’t think so. We are aware of the fact but that doesn’t mean you’ll become champions. At the end of the day, we have to play the game perfectly to outplay them on the ground.”
Bashar Resan, who scored the winner in the second leg of the semi-final will be missing the final miss because of second booking in the knock-out stage, while Samal Saeed will also be sitting out for the double booking in the knock-out stage.
Qasim, although lamented their exclusions, sounded affirm on overcoming the Indian outfit without these two pawns.
“Whoever will play tomorrow against Bengaluru FC, have to deliver and all the boys are ready to do so. We’re working on our strategies likewise.”