AFC Asian Cup: 2007 tournament commences; Thailand and Iraq draw 1-1

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Opening ceremony fireworks at Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok.
Image: AsianFC.

The 2007 AFC Asian Cup has begun in South-East Asia, with Thailand drawing 1-1 with Iraq in the opening match of the tournament.

The Asian Cup is the premier international competition for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The 2007 tournament will run from July 7 to July 29, featuring a group stage and then four progressive knock-out rounds.

The 2007 Asian Cup is the first in its' 43-year history to be co-hosted by four nations. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam will each host one of the four groups, and will take two games each in the knockout rounds. The final is scheduled for Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 29.

Heavy rain caused the opening ceremony of the Cup, held at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok prior to the Group A match, to be delayed.

Hosts Thailand took the lead in the sixth minute when referee Kwon Jung-Chul awarded them a penalty kick. Striker Kiatisuk Senamuang was deemed to have been fouled when brought to ground by Iraqi defender Ali Rehema.

Iraq nearly equalised in the sixteenth minute after a spectacular overhead 'bicycle kick' by Salir Sadwn was saved by Thailand goalkeeper Kosin Hathairattanakool, who pushed the ball onto the post and eventually cleared.

Iraq equalised in the thirty-second minute when captain Younis Mahmoud headed a ball over 'keeper Kosin and into the net from a free kick by Sadwn. Despite dominating the first half, Iraq went into half-time level at 1-1.

The opening ceremony, including a traditional Thai longboat which circled the stadium.
Image: AsianFC.

Both teams tired in the second half, but the three best chances to take the lead fell to the hosts. Therdsak Chaiman and Datsakorn Thonglao both shot just wide either side of the hour mark, and substitute Teeratep Winothai forced a save out of Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Hassan with an effort from outside the penalty box five minutes from the end.

The game ended at 1-1, however, and means both Thailand and Iraq move to one point each in the Group A ladder after one match played. Oman and Australia are the other two teams in the goup. Australia will make their Asian Cup debut later today after moving from the Oceania Confederation to the AFC at the start of 2006.

The Australians are considered favourites, along with defending champions Japan, to win the tournament in their first outing, following their impressive show in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. They reached the second round after qualifying from Group F, including a 3-1 win over Japan, before losing by the single goal - an injury time penalty - to eventual champions Italy.


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.