Iraq defeated Yemen 3-0 in their second game of the 17th edition of the AFC Asian Cup, guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Round of 16. Although Vietnam and Yemen are not two of Asia’s top sides, the squad can still take pride in it being the first time Iraq have won their opening two Asian Cup matches.
Iraq took the lead early, with Mohanad Ali scoring an incredible solo goal in the 11th minute after Yemen gave the ball away deep in their own half. The new attacking star has been outstanding so far, with 8 goals in just 13 official appearances for the Lions of Mesopotamia. Wearing the number 10, Mimi has been the perfect player to carry on the legacy of former captain Younis Mahmoud.
Only eight minutes later, Bashar Resan was able to double Iraq’s lead with a shot from outside the box, in part due to a deflection off of Yemen’s centre-back, giving Iraq a comfortable lead going into the second half. Finally, to put away any doubt, the 2007 champions were able to seal the win in the 90th minute, with Ahmed Yasin heading back a cross for the substitute Alaa Abbas to finish off, giving him his first goal for Iraq in just his second appearance.
The wins against both Vietnam and Yemen have given Katanec’s squad the confidence they need ahead of their toughest opponent yet – Asian Cup favourites and Asia’s top ranked team, Iran. A win against their rival will allow the Lions to top the group table and have the easier opponent in the next round.
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