Iraq have qualified to the semi-finals of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup after finishing top of Group B, ahead of Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen.
Iraq kicked off the campaign with a draw against Bahrain. The Reds controlled most of the match and were heading towards a victory but an 88th-minute header by Mohannad Abdul-Raheem from Hussein Ali’s cross salvaged a point for the Lions.
In the following game against defending champions Qatar, Iraq once again went behind, however they managed to fight back and earn a deserved win. Iraq equalised through a brilliant free-kick by Ali Faez, while the winner came in the second half through Ali Husni, who flicked the ball into the net from Humam Tariq’s well-placed cross.
The two Alis combined again in the following game, each scoring a goal against Yemen to put Iraq 2-0 up. Al-Shorta teammates Alaa Mhawi and Mahdi Kamil combined brilliantly to score the third and put the cherry on top of the cake as Iraq sealed top spot in the group.
One player who impressed throughout the tournament was young playmaker Hussein Ali. His dribbling and passing skills impressed fans as he picked up the man of the match award in all three games.
Iraq finished top of the group with seven points, two ahead of Bahrain. They will face the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, in hopes of reaching the final like they did in 2013. If they do manage to eliminate UAE, they will face either Oman or Bahrain in the tournament’s decider.
As always, you can follow all the Gulf Cup action on our Twitter account @SoccerIraq.