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Iraq hand opening blues to Qatar


Doha, Nov 27 - Asian champions Qatar suffered a shock 2-1 loss against Iraq at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Tuesday in the opening match of the 24th edition of the Arabian Gulf Cup tournament. Mohammed Qasim was the star for Iraq as they earned full three points after a tough match against the hosts in front of a sizeable Qatari crowd. The fight back by Iraq surprised Sanchez’s boys and despite Qatar’s domination in the first 15 minutes, Iraqi striker Mohammed Qasim netted the two important goals within 10 minutes. The Qatari fans who numbered more than 37,000, were stunned in the 18th minute when Qasim’s long cross into the box went directly into the Qatar net as the defenders and the goalkeeper missed it completely. Qasim increased the lead when his strong shot gave no chance for Qatar goalkeeper in the 26th minute to make it 2-0 for Iraq. Coach Sanchez entered the second half with slight changes in players and tactics. Qatari players registered a strong comeback as they reduced the deficit when substitute Abdulaziz Hatim found the target. But then on, Iraq players managed to defend well and denied Qatar strikers including Akram Afif, Almoez Ali and Hassan al Haydos.


Iraq coach Srecko Katanec appreciated his boys efforts in the field to win a crucial three points in the first round. “Despite our weak start in the first 10 minutes of the match, we were able then to score two goals. Congratulations to the players and it is a nice win,” Katanec said.

Katanec said that you have to score from the chances in football. “Qatari players missed many opportunities and then received two goals. However, Qatar netted a early goal in the second half which allowed them to put more pressure on us. I did slight changes with the tactics and players. We were lucky as many scoring chances were missed by the hosts,” Katanec added.

Felix Sanchez, head coach of Qatar, reasoned his team defeat to the series of missed scoring chances. “We had a strong start by attacking in the first 15 minutes. Iraq team scored from their first chances. We are in a strong group. However, we have to be much better in the next match and learn from our mistakes,” the Spaniard said.

With the upset win, Iraq have staked claim as one of the favourites in the tournament. Iraq picked their first three points in the showpiece tournament and boosted their chances of making to the semifinals. The Asian Cup Champions will have to win their next match to stay in the tournament.

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