Asian Cup 2019: Lebanon ready to impress after four-year journey

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Lebanon coach Miodrag Radulovic insists his team of dreamers are not at the Asian Cup to just make up the numbers.

Prior to this year’s breakthrough, Lebanon had been the only Asian country alongside Yemen to have never successfully completed a qualification stage for the tournament, having been hosts in 2000.

Since Radulovic’s appointment in 2015, however, Lebanese football has enjoyed something of a rebirth, having gone 15 matches unbeaten until defeat to Jordan last September.

And the Montenegrin is confident his players will not freeze on the big stage at the conclusion of a wonderful four-year journey.

“Everybody in Lebanese football is dreaming about this competition for 20 years and we’re proud that we’re in this company,” he said. “We’re living the dreams of the players and the football fans of Lebanon.

“Our focus is on the first game, it’s a very important game, not decisive, but important. I know very well what to expect from such a level but I’m sure my players will have the possibility and the quality to make a performance.

“We are together almost four years and we built a good team. We have our system and we have tactical discipline and I’m optimistic about the game.”

Lebanon take on Qatar in a tricky group that is also home to Saudi Arabia and North Korea, but Radulovic is confident he has got his squad right.

“After the amazing qualifying that we did over this period we have tried to extend our group and we have found some players to improve our performance,” he added.

“I believe in my players, my captain Hassan Matouk, my strikers. We’ve come here with a strong mission to make one step forward on the football map of Asia.”

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