JOHANNESBURG - Iraq coach Bora Milutinovic is optimistic the team can make the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup after holding hosts South Africa to a goalless draw in the opening match on Sunday. Milutinovic said the effort of the Asian champions had proved their potential to progress through to the top two places in the group. "We now have a chance to go through. It wasn't easy for my players because it's a new competition for them and I didn't have much time to prepare them, but if we can get another good result we can progress," the Serbian told reporters. Midfielder Nashat Akram added: "Of course we now have a chance. We played a good team and they had the all the advantages, like having the crowd behind them, and we still got a point. This we can build on." Iraq play European champions Spain on Wednesday in the eight-team tournament but it is their final group match against New Zealand at the weekend that their coach is eyeing. "We know the quality of Spain and the way they play with flair but you have to believe in your team. We need to be more optimistic," said Milutinovic, who has coached five different teams at the World Cup finals. "What was important for me is my players made a real effort, they tried to do what I told them. We are delighted that we have made the Iraqi people happy."
14 June 2009
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