Asian Cup 2007 - Iraq crowned Champions
It's official - the new champions of Asia are Iraq. The Final of the Asian Cup 2007 took place yesterday in Jakarta and it was a day for the underdogs who, until now, have never won the tournament.
Saudi Arabia were undoubtedly the favourites to win the competition but they rarely threatened the Iraqi goal. At the other end of the pitch, however, Iraq played to win as though their very existence depended on it. Qusay Munir volleyed wide from the edge of the penalty area after six minutes, then Younis Mahmoud saw his overhead kick fly wide from just outside the six-yard box two minutes later.
Shortly after that, the game became scrappy as Australian referee Mark Shield booked five players. Any chances that threatened to bring about a goal at either end were being snuffed out by the opposing defences, even into the second half. All the while, Iraq grew stronger and more threatening but it wasn't until the 71st minute that they finally made the breakthrough they'd been searching for.
Iraq won a corner which was taken by Hawar Mohammed but when Saudi goalkeeper Yasser Al-Musalim came out to catch the high ball, he misjudged its flight. As it sailed over his head, the ball fell to Mahmoud who headed it goalwards and into the net. Mahmoud could even have made it 2-0 six minutes later when he was put clean through with only the keeper to beat, but Al-Musalim was quickly off his line to deny him.
The match ended with Saudi Arabia as ineffective as they had been throughout leaving Iraq to raise the trophy to the delight of their fans at home and abroad. Heaven knows they haven't had much to cheer about of late, but this win will bring much happiness to all of them.
Congratulations, then, to Iraq - winners of a great Asian Cup competition. May they enjoy their four years at the top of the tree ahead of the next Asian Cup in Qatar in 2011.
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