BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa - Iraq have been inspired for their mission impossible against Spain on Wednesday by Egypt's superb performance against Brazil in their opening match of the Confederations Cup. Egypt came from 3-1 down to score twice in a minute against the five times world champions on Monday and were seconds from a shock 3-3 draw before conceding a late penalty and losing 4-3. Iraq face a task more monumental than Egypt's appeared to be when they play the European champions at the Free State Stadium. Spain are unbeaten in 33 matches since November 2006 and will equal the all-time FIFA record of 14 successive wins if they beat Iraq in their second Group A game. The Spaniards beat New Zealand 5-0 in their opener and will reach the semi-finals with another victory. Even if Iraq lose they could still reach the last four from a group that also includes South Africa who meet New Zealand later on Wednesday. Iraq's Serbian-born coach Bora Milutinovic, whose negative tactics helped secure a 0-0 draw against the South Africans in their opening match at Ellis Park on Sunday, said Egypt's performance had inspired his squad and they will fear no-one. MORALE LIFTED Milutinovic, in charge of his eighth national side for only a month, told the eve-of-match news conference: "The morale of my players and the whole country has been lifted by what Egypt achieved. OK in the end they narrowly lost, but they played some fantastic football -- and I have a team that can do the same. We will try and follow their example. "Iraqis never have fear. We will face them with pride, with the right attitude, controlling our emotions. "Spain are one of the best teams in the world. They have always promised but never delivered and now they have a great generation of players with superior talent who can win things. "They won the Euros last year playing some great football, and people like them which you don't get very often. They seem to be perfect." Milutinovic also said he would consider playing even more defensively than he did against hosts South Africa if he thought it would bring his team success. "If I thought it would ensure us a point I would be happy to do that but you always go into a match wanting to win. It will be hard against Spain but look at what Egypt did. You must always have belief."
16 June 2009
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