Iraq were beaten by a single goal in a friendly match with South Korea at the New York University Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The game represented Iraq’s final test-run before kicking off their AFC Asian Cup campaign next week against Indonesia in Qatar. Jesús Casas opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Mohanad Ali leading the line and 18 year-old Montader Madjed being handed his debut on the right wing.
Iraq, wearing their new white Adidas kit, almost took the lead very early on when Ali Jasim played Ibrahim Bayesh through on goal, but the 2023 Iraq Player of the Year saw his effort saved by the Korean goalkeeper. Iraq continued to control proceedings early on, but Jürgen Klinsmann’s South Korea soon grew into the game and forced Jalal Hassan into a number of smart saves.
Jalal was left with no chance in the 40th minute however, as Lee Jae-sung fired his side in front with a powerful strike from 20 yards out. Iraq almost found an instant reply when Ali Jasim bore down on goal, however he dragged his effort wide of the post and the Lions of Mesopotamia entered the break a goal behind.
Both sides made a number of changes during the second half, with Iraq introducing youngster Zidane Iqbal and talisman Aymen Hussein among others, and South Korea bringing on English Premier League duo Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan. The second half was one of fewer chances, with South Korea keeping the ball well and limiting Iraq to counter-attacks. South Korea went down to ten men late on when substitute Kim Tae-hwan was shown red, but the Koreans were able to hold to the victory.
Iraq will take positives from the game, having carved out some dangerous opportunities in the first half and giving game time to most of the squad. Iraq’s defence remained resolute throughout the 90 minutes, only conceding once from a long-range strike.
The Lions will begin their AFC Asian Cup campaign on 15 January against Indonesia at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar.
Iraq National Team on Twitter: “🎥⚽️🇮🇶 #Iraq 0-1 South Korea 🇰🇷 (Lee Jae-sung 40′)#IRQvKORpic.twitter.com/rV09Ed6SYh / Twitter”
🎥⚽️🇮🇶 #Iraq 0-1 South Korea 🇰🇷 (Lee Jae-sung 40′)#IRQvKORpic.twitter.com/rV09Ed6SYh