CANBERRA: Radhi Shenaishil said Monday that he had taken a huge risk to his reputation by agreeing to fill in at the last minute as Iraq’s coach for the Asian Cup.
Hakim Shakir was sacked as Iraq boss just weeks before the start of the continental showpiece, after the Lions of Mesopotamia finished bottom of their group at the Gulf Cup.
With the Iraq Football Association scrambling to find a replacement, Qatar Sports Club agreed in mid-December to loan head coach Shenaishil for the tournament in Australia.
“Every coach here has pressure on them,” Shenaishil told reporters ahead of his side’s crunch Group D clash with Palestine, where they will try to reach the last eight.
“(But) there’s actually more pressure not having a contract. Being on loan with the Iraq national team means a lot of pressure to make things work in a very short period of time.
“A negative result in this tournament could actually destroy your name as a coach,” added the Iraqi former defender.
But Shenaishil added that the call of duty had been too strong to ignore.
“I put all the disadvantages I thought of aside,” he said in Canberra. “I’ve been called for my country and I’m here to serve my country and hopefully I can produce something.”
Iraq defeated Jordan 1-0 in their opening game before losing by the same score line to defending champions and favourites Japan.
With Japan expected to beat Jordan Tuesday, an Iraqi win against Palestine would send them into the quarter-finals where they would meet either arch-rivals Iran, or surprise package United Arab Emirates.