AFC Asian Cup: Iraq shock Australia, Japan overcome UAE

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

2007 AFC Asian Cup Group A
Team Pts Pld W D L GF GA GD
Iraq 4 2 1 1 0 4 2 +2
Thailand 4 2 1 1 0 3 1 +2
Australia 1 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2
Oman 1 2 0 1 1 1 3 -2
2007 AFC Asian Cup Group A table as of June 14, 2007.

Iraq has defeated Australia 3-1 in their 2007 AFC Asian Cup Group A match at the Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand.

Iraq took the lead after twenty-three minutes when midfielder Nashat Akram scored. He curled in a free kick from around thirty yards out, and Salih al Sadwn rushed towards Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. Al Sadwn's presence sufficiently distracted Schwarzer, who dived the wrong way.

The score remained at 1-0 until half time. Two minutes after the break, Australia equalised through striker Mark Viduka. The Australian captain managed to head a curling cross by midfielder Brett Emerton back across Iraqi Noor Hassan's goal and into the top corner.

A confrontation occurs after an Iraqi player is pushed to the ground by an Australian.
Image: AsianFC.

However, Iraq scored twice to win the match, the former through a defensive error by Australia. Hawar Mulla Mohammed was played through with a lovely ball from a teammate, who had attracted the Australian central defence out-of-position. Mohammed slotted the ball home from 15 yards to re-take the lead.

Iraq sealed the three Group A points when Karrar Jassim Mohammed scored in the eighty-sixth minute. He managed to get on the end of a deflected shot and calmly tap the ball into an empty net, after goalkeeper Schwarzer had dived to defend the initial shot.

The win puts Iraq on equal-top of the group with hosts Thailand. If Iraq defeats or draws with Oman in their final Group A encounter, they will progress through to the quarter-final stage. Australia must defeat Thailand to remain any chance of progressing through to the next stage.

In the event that Australia win (ie. are on four points) and Iraq win or draw (ie. are on seven or five points), Australia will progress through to the next stage on head-to-head rather than Thailand despite having a possibly-worse goal difference. Goal difference (goals for minus goals against) is only used to separate two teams if they drew in their head-to-head match in the group stage.

Small band of Australian supporters at the Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok.
Image: AsianFC.

If Iraq lose to Oman and Australia win, all four teams will end up on four points. It is unclear how the head-to-head rule will be applied by the AFC in this situation, and it is probable that goal difference will be used.

In Group B, Japan defeated United Arab Emirates 3-1 at the My Dinh National Stadium, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Defending champions Japan took the lead when Naohiro Takahara scored after twenty-two minutes. Takahara doubled their advantage five minutes later when he sent a lovely volley into the right-hand side of the net after twenty-seven minutes, leaving Emirates goalkeeper Majed Maqdemi stranded.

Shunsuke Nakamura made it 3-0 before half time when he converted a penalty kick awarded to Japan on forty-two minutes. The Emirates scored a goal after sixty-six minutes through Saeed Alkas, but no comeback eventuated and the final score was 3-1 top Japan.

It leaves Japan equal on top of the Group B table with Vietnam on two points, with the teams locked on four points each. The winner of the match will take top spot in the group. In the event that the Japan-Vietnam match is drawn, both teams have a goal difference of +2. However, Japan have scored one more goal than Vietnam, and will take top spot in the group on that basis.

Qatar, the other team in Group B, must win against UAE and hope for a winner in the Japan-Vietnam match to progress, or else defeat the Emirates by three goals or more. Qatar drew both matches with Japan and Vietnam, meaning it will come down to goal difference if two sides are equal on four points. The UAE cannot reach the quarter-finals stage.

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