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Former Iraq boss Vieira marks 10th anniversary of Asian Cup triumph

Former Iraq coach, Jorvan Vieira in 2007
Iraq won their one and only Asian Cup title under Brazilian Jorvan Vieira, third from right, in 2007.

On the 10th anniversary of Iraq's shock 2007 AFC Asian Cup triumph, then-coach Jorvan Vieira says tea drinking, and sleepless nights of checking on his players, were the keys to the football success of a war-torn nation.

Iraq stunned Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final, having beaten South Korea on penalties in the semifinals, and Vietnam in the quarterfinals.

In the group stage, they upset Australia 3-1 and drew with co-hosts Thailand and Oman.

"The secret was not to sleep. Even early in the morning, I would be looking around the floors to make sure everything was okay," Brazilian-born Vieira told "I would go in the players' room and drink tea with them to give them confidence. This is my way, but with this way I have won many titles."

Iraq had been given little chance of going far in the tournament after heavy defeats to the Koreans and Uzbekistan in pre-tournament friendlies. 

The ongoing war in Iraq had made a proper preparation for his squad almost impossible. 

"I knew we could do something at the Asian Cup, and, by luck, I chose the right group of players," Vieira said. "But every day, some players lost relatives. It was tough to prepare the team in these circumstances, but it was a great experience and gave me a chance to grow too."

Iraq striker Younis Mahmoud
Younis Mahmoud scored the winner for Iraq in the 2007 Asian Cup final against Saudi Arabia.

In the final in Jakarta, a 73rd-minute header from striker Younis Mahmoud from Hawar Mulia Mohammed's corner was the difference between the teams in front of 60,000 fans.

It was Iraq's first final while Saudi Arabia were three-time winners of the tournament, having beaten defending champions Japan 3-2 in the semifinals.

Vieira had been in charge of Iraq for only two months before the tournament, and was something of an unknown quantity.

"My memory is that last minutes when victory nearly escaped our hands when [Saudi striker] Malek [Mouath] headed and the ball went over the bar," he said. 

"I was shouting at everybody and wanted to go on the field, but when the ball went over, I knew we were champions."

In recent years, Vieira served as head coach of Kuwait (2013-14), before becoming manager of Egyptian side Smouha Sporting Club in 2016.

The former defender, now 63, played for Vasco da Gama, Botafogo and Portuguesa in his native Brazil in the 1970s.

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