As the captain of the Czechoslovak team, he experienced the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and in the role of coach and chairman of the football association, he did not bring the Czech team to the 2010 championship in South Africa. Now Ivan Hasek is fighting for the championship for the third time – on the bench of Lebanon, which is fighting in the second phase of the Asian qualifying zone.
After six matches out of ten, Lebanon is in fourth place, a point from the draw. Is the union management satisfied with the placement of the national team?
Not only the management, but me too. We feel that we have a chance to get into the playoffs, which no one believed at the beginning of the second phase of qualification, the mood in the team is combative. Above all, the players feel a chance, but we could have been even better.
Iran and South Korea bounce off the others. Are they really level up?
Definitely. These teams are made up of players who play in advanced European leagues, so they are of quality elsewhere. You can succeed with them in one match, but in the long run they are much better and are clearly advancing directly to the championship.
In the second group, however, there are three advanced teams: Saudi Arabia, Japan and so far the third Australia, which would go to the playoffs. Are you glad Lebanon isn’t in it?
First of all, it is much worse to travel. Not only Australia, although it played a match in Qatar, but also Japan, China, Vietnam. And in a covid situation, it’s even more complicated. The Lebanese Union does not have such funds, we do not fly specials, we do not have business tickets, it is more complicated for us. We made it a little easier by swapping a match with Korea, where, according to the lot, we were supposed to play in January, when it could be below zero. The opponent agreed, in September in a pleasant warmth we lost 0: 1 in Suwon, and it was very difficult for us. The other matches were and will be within reach, in addition, we played with Iraq in Qatar and with Syria in Jordan, because both countries cannot play at home for security reasons. Unfortunately, covid made it impossible for spectators to come to our home matches. It would be sold out.
You complained that Lebanon could have had more points. At home with the favored Iran, he led 1: 0 in the last minute, two goals in the setup and a loss. How did you offend luck?
Nothing. Our three best players had to take turns due to health problems or exhaustion, we do not have such a wide staff to fully replace them. The opponent was better, he put us under pressure, but we defended well, in an organized manner. We scored a random goal when the balloon stopped in the wind and returned to the field. Just a happy coincidence. We kept the condition, but after the replacement we lost the quality. The goal hit us in the first minute of the setting, the opponent sensed that he was on top and pushed the second one. Too bad, even a point against such an opponent would be a huge success. Iran is really somewhere else.
In a direct battle for the draw, you lost a penalty to the United Arab Emirates at home five minutes before the end. Bad luck too?
It wasn’t bad luck, but a scam, I’ll say it directly. I still bite badly because we were better. Only the referee saw her, he didn’t even go to see the video. VAR was at the match, but then they told me that there were fewer cameras to assess than usual.
Do you not feel that Lebanon, which is currently going through an economic crisis, is not welcome at the World Cup?
I don’t want to rate it that way, nor do I. We are not in the Czech Republic… The judge made the mistake of not going to watch the video, he would find that there was no contact there. We don’t feel any help from the judges, but we don’t want to either. There were no similar problems before that and I believe that the conclusion of the qualification will be fine.
How do you live in a country that is going through a difficult period?
I live at the hotel with my assistant Mír Jirkal, a short distance from the federation, we have it close to work, that’s fine. Beirut is a beautiful city, I understand the people who return to it. In recent years, the number of beggars has increased, a lot of migrants from Syria, these are unpleasant views. The crisis is evident when we arrived, the dollar was fifteen thousand of their lira, now twenty-eight. Inflation is huge. But the queues for petrol have already disappeared, there is enough of it, it just costs ten times more. It’s a chirp.
Is the national football team coach paid in Lebanese lira or US dollars?
In dollars. But it’s not like I took Lebanon for money. I would earn more at a club in the Czech Republic.
Did you fly home for Christmas, or are you looking for something more lucrative?
I’m not looking for anything, I believe we will reach the barracks. Already at the turn of February, we will have two important matches in Korea and at home with Iraq. In March, Syria and Iran. We have a chance and we will fight for it. That’s why I’m not thinking about anything else.
Do you have a contract bound to advance to the barrage?
We have an appointment by the end of March, but I can leave earlier. But I won’t go away, I enjoy it and the goal is clear – to catch up and try to play. It would also be foolish for me to leave a divided job. And most of all, I believe that there will be spectators in the stadiums. Our fans are fantastic, they stand by us, if they could be in the fall, I am convinced that they would make the players better against Iran and the Emirates.
The fasting month of Ramadan will come in March. Won’t that be a complication?
We will face Syria and Iraq, the Muslim countries. So we’ll be similar. Beware – in Lebanon, forty percent of the population professes Christianity, almost all faiths in the world are represented here. It will not be our disadvantage.
It is still questioned that the championship is hosted by Qatar. Are you close to how you view these views?
We personally tested the atmosphere in Qatar at this year’s tournament, they clashed with Egypt, Algeria and Sudan. Stadiums beautiful, fifteen thousand spectators at each match, how the areas are covered, the sound resonates, chanting is heard. There is no mistake. It is worth it, I believe that the Czech national team will deny participation and will experience it too.
If you penetrated the complex of the barracks – in addition to the Asian part, the winner would still have a representative of Oceania – would you like to run into a Czech team in the group?
I wish anyone just to get there. It would be a lifetime achievement for me too. And wishing specific teams would be a rude of me, when we are only in the second phase of the Asian qualification and we have a few points.