JOHANNESBURG - Bora Milutinovic might well return to the World Cup in South Africa next year even though Iraq, who he has coached at the Confederations Cup, have been eliminated from the qualifiers and will not be back. The 64-year-old Serbian-born Milutinovic, the only man to have coached five teams at the World Cup finals, was not ruling out a sixth after the end of his short-term contract with Iraq following their Confederations Cup exit on Saturday. His team needed to beat New Zealand to stand any chance of pipping hosts South Africa to runners-up spot in Group A and reaching the semi-finals but they drew at Ellis Park to finish third behind Spain and South Africa but ahead of the Kiwis. Asked at a news conference if he would accept the invitation from Iraq's FA president to remain as coach, Milutinovic replied: "As far as my future is concerned, I am a coach and it depends if there are any offers for me. "We will see but you cannot rule anything out. But I think the World Cup here next year will be fantastic and we all need to do everything we can to make it a success. "As far as Iraq is concerned, I wish the boys all the best for the future, they have shown they have a lot of talent and tactical awareness, but what I really wish them is freedom and the chance to live happy and peaceful lives." Milutinovic, in charge of his eighth national side, only took over the Iraq squad last month with a brief to guide them through the Confederatons Cup tournament. However, they failed to score in three matches, played ultra-defensively against South Africa and Spain and, although they went for a win against New Zealand they could not find the net. That was partly due to New Zealand goalkeeper Glen Moss who had an outstanding match, saving with his feet and head as well as his hands to the delight of coach Rikki Herbert. "It was a milestone for us tonight," said Herbert, who played for New Zealand during their only appearance at the World Cup finals in 1982. "We proved a few doubters wrong with a magnificent performance and I was disappointed we were not 2-0 or 3-0 up at halftime. "We have learnt a lot from this tournament and have had a great time here and, hopefully, we will be back for the World Cup finals next year." New Zealand, as Oceania champions, face a two-legged playoff against Bahrain or Saudi Arabia with the winner qualifying for the World Cup finals.
21 June 2009
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