IRAQ SECURE MUCH-NEEDED AWAY WIN OVER RIVALS IRAN IN FRIENDLY
In a behind closed doors friendly game in Tehran, Iraq became the first team to defeat Iran for two years in a victory that should boost Iraq's confidence ahead of the Australia and Saudi Arabia qualifiers.
Both sides were missing key players; Iraq's most notable absentees included Dhurgham Ismail, Ali Faez, Ali Husni and Justin Meram with Iran missing a number of foreign-based players too.
Iraq's line-up for the match was as follows:
GK: Jalal Hassan
DF: Ali Bahjat, Ahmed Ibrahim, Rebin Sulaka, Alaa Mhawi
MF: Amjad Kalaf, Saad Abdul-Amir, Amjad Attwan, Ali Adnan
FW: Mohanad Abdul-Raheem, Alaa Abdul-Zahra (C.)
The game was not broadcast on television and it was goalless at half-time. Radhi Shenaishil made four substitutions at half-time: Hammadi Ahmed replaced Mohanad, Ahmed Yasin replaced Alaa, Waleed Salem replaced Mhawi and Bashar Rasan replaced Adnan. The game-winning goal came in the 72nd minute, when Iraq won a penalty and Saad Abdul-Amir (who took the captain's armband when Alaa was subbed off) duly converted it.
Iran have only been beaten twice by Asian teams since May 2013 - both times against Iraq - and this is their first loss since they were defeated by Sweden in a March 2015 friendly. This should therefore be a major confidence boost for the Iraqis as they try to restore some pride and improve their ranking in their upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, considering that World Cup qualification would now be a miracle for Radhi's side.