Iraq coach Zico critical of Singapore pitch

Singapore: Iraqi head coach Zico has slammed the artificial turf at Singapore`s Jalan Besar stadium, deeming it unprofessional ahead of their Asian World Cup qualifying clash on Tuesday.

The Brazil great told reporters on the eve of the match that the pitch was not suitable for World Cup qualifying matches and suggested it would be more appropriate for schoolboy soccer.

"I don`t like the field, the grass. I think the good game is on natural grass," the 58-year-old former midfielder said.

"Maybe for schools, for the youths, it is ok, but not professional (soccer). Qualifiers for the World Cup need natural grass," he added.

The synthetic surface at the interim soccer arena was approved for competition by FIFA as the city-state awaits the 2014 completion of it`s National Sports Hub, which will include a 55,000-seater stadium with a retractable roof.

Zico, often referred to as the `White Pele`, was also unhappy with the lack of recovery time between matches following Friday`s 2-0 loss to Jordan in the opening Group A encounter in the third round of Asian World Cup qualifying.

"After the game, (it is) not possible to relax, the players are tired, they have to take a flight, a long flight," he complained.

"The last day`s travel was difficult for us, 30 hours from Iraq to here.”

"It is difficult for the players, (they are) not machines. Two games in four days, in this moment, for Iraq (it) is very bad."

China, who beat Singapore 2-1 on Friday, and Jordan top the standings on three points apiece ahead of their clash in Amman on Tuesday, with the top two teams from the group advancing to the final stage of qualification for the 2014 finals in Brazil.

Bureau Report

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