A spirited Iraq side were defeated 3-0 by Tunisia in La Plata in their second group match at the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup.
Iraq dominated large spells of the game and looked threatening almost every time they came forward, testing the Tunisian ‘keeper numerous times and even striking the woodwork. However, three goals in the second half from Tunisia sealed Iraq’s fate.
After a relatively quiet opening half-hour, the game sprung into life and the energetic Youssef Amyn saw a good effort saved by the Tunisian ‘keeper. Tunisia had the ball in the net soon after, but the goal was rightly chalked off for offside by the linesman.
Iraq continued to pile on the pressure, as Abdul-Qadir Ayoub and Hayder Abdul-Karim both had long-range efforts saved either side of a Youssef Amyn effort that went wide. It was clear that Emad Mohammed’s young Lions understood the magnitude of the game as they continued to control proceedings, with Kadhim Raad going close before the break with a header that sailed just past the post.
Iraq started the second half in the same manner as they finished the first, and Youssef Amyn almost gave the Lions the lead when his excellent strike was tipped onto the post by the Tunisian goalkeeper. It was a brilliant save and one that would prove to be crucial, as Tunisia soon took the lead against the run of play via Youssef Snana’s clever finish in the 55th minute.
Less than two minutes later, Tunisia were on the break again and Chaïm El Djebali poked the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-0, sending the Tunisians wild. The Iraqi players seemed to be in disbelief as they found themselves staring the prospect of defeat in the face despite being much the better of the two sides.
Emad Mohammed attempted to swing the game in his side’s favour, bringing on workhorse Abdul-Razzaq Qasim to try and take back some control of the midfield and switching Youssef Amyn to the left side of the attack. Iraq were given some hope when Tunisia went down to ten men after Rayan Nasraoui kicked out at Kadhim Raad, but Iraq were unable to break down the Tunisian defence. Tunisia added salt to the Iraqi wounds late on by making it 3-0 through a Mahmoud Ghorbel penalty.
The young Lions of Mesopotamia will be looking to get some points on the board in their final group game on Sunday against European giants England, who have already secured their passage to the knockout stage.