JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Coach Segrt makes Tajikistan dream at Asian Cup

Coach Segrt makes Tajikistan dream at Asian Cup

Monday, January 29, 2024, 09:34 GMT+7
Coach Segrt makes Tajikistan dream at Asian Cup
Soccer Football - AFC Asian Cup - Round of 16 - Tajikistan v United Arab Emirates - Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - January 28, 2024 Tajikistan players celebrate with coach Petar Segrt after the match. Photo: Reuters

DOHA -- Tajikistan coach Petar Segrt is warm and affable with a booming voice but after gaining popularity for his charm at the Asian Cup, he is now turning heads after his side's dream run to the quarter-finals.

The only team making their debut at the tournament in Qatar, Tajikistan were the competition's minnows and were barely given a second look when the 24-team group stage got underway.

But they shocked the continent by first reaching the knockout stage before delivering the upset of the tournament by eliminating the United Arab Emirates on penalties in the last 16 on Sunday.

"We are now the dark horses in this tournament. Nobody knows how far we can go. I have no limits for my players, they've surprised me again," the 57-year-old Segrt told reporters.

A well-travelled coach who has taken charge of teams such as Georgia, Afghanistan and Maldives, the Croatian has become a national hero in Tajikistan in the past week.

His demeanour and showmanship came across as a ploy to shift the limelight away from his young squad, and the tactic has clearly worked.

"It's like when you have children, you must wait for the right moment," Segrt had said when he was asked whether his personality protected his team during the group stage.

"Now they are ready... I will still try to put all the pressure on me, but they must work like adults and do it themselves."

Conceding only one goal against Qatar, a comeback win over Lebanon and nearly beating UAE in 90 minutes before dumping them out in the shootout is proof that his team is perhaps better than their ranking of 106 would suggest.

"We are among the eight best teams in Asia," said Segrt, whose side will next face either Iraq or Jordan.

Center of attention

Croatia's Segrt makes a point of shaking everyone's hand in the room before his press conferences.

It is something he says he has done out of respect for 27 years.

"I come from a very poor (background), a very difficult situation in old Yugoslavia and in Germany. I learned to respect everybody because for me, as a child it was very difficult," he said.

"I never forget where I come from... I think I have an honest soul, this is my most important thing."

His style of management has clearly struck a chord with his young players, who engulfed him and broke his glasses when they qualified for the last-16.

"He's very positive every time, very kind. But he knows when he has to be friendly and kind, and when he has to be hard and strict towards us," Tajikistan defender Zoir Dzhuraboev said.

When some players sat on the turf in the dugout before the shootout against the UAE, Segrt sternly asked them to get back on their feet and present a united front, standing shoulder to shoulder.

"I think the most important thing is to make harmony between people," he said. "A coach who can make and bring harmony to the people, this is a good coach and a successful coach."

Segrt's contract runs out after the Asian Cup but there is no question where his loyalty lies.

"We'll see in the next few days but I must say that Tajikistan is my first country," he said.



Read more

Defiant Man City to fight 'flawed' two-season European ban

'The Adjudicatory Chamber has imposed disciplinary measures on Manchester City Football Club directing that it shall be excluded from participation in UEFA club competitions in the next two seasons (ie. the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons)'

4 years ago



‘Taste of Australia’ gala dinner held in Ho Chi Minh City after 2-year hiatus

Taste of Australia Gala Reception has returned to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnamese woman gives unconditional love to hundreds of adopted children

Despite her own immense hardship, she has taken in and cared for hundreds of orphans over the past three decades.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta celebrates spring with ‘hat boi’ performances

The art form is so popular that it attracts people from all ages in the Mekong Delta

Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Latest news