Group C: Iraq 4-2 China PR
Taipei: Iraq came from two goals down at half time to defeat China 4-2 in an entertaining and drama-filled Group C match to kick off their AFC Futsal Championships 2018 campaign.
Looking to exact revenge for their 6-1 loss to Iraq at the same stage of the competition two years ago, China started on the front foot and took the lead in just the sixth minute when Gu Haitao smashed home a left-footed effort from the edge of the area.
They doubled their lead five minutes later after a defensive blunder from the Iraqi goalkeeper. After a set play from a free kick, Li Jianjia’s shot could only be parried by Yahya Abdulnoor, falling into the path of Zhao Liang to tap home.
Iraq mounted attack after attack to finish the half, but China’s defence held firm ensuring they went to the half time break with their 2-0 lead intact.
It took only three minutes in the second half for Iraq to pull a goal back, albeit in fortunate circumstances. Salim Faisal’s long range effort had plenty of power, but was heading wide until it hit the body of Hasan Ali and deflected into the goal.
Iraq’s pressure finally saw them draw level after 28 minutes when Hasan’s long range free kick deflected off the leg of goalkeeper Zhu Bei and Zhang Yameng’s attempted goal line clearance instead found the back of the net.
Hasan thought he had his hattrick in the 32nd minute when he headed into an open net after a failed powerplay attempt from China, but the referee instead picked him up for a foul for a shove on Zhao Liang.
China were temporarily reduced to four men after Zhang Yameng was shown a second yellow with six minutes left to play, and had another man sent off with two minutes remaining after Li Jianjia was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area.
From the resulting penalty Hasan Dakheel made no mistake, smashing the ball past Zhu Bei to give Iraq the lead for the first time in the match.
Iraq’s win was secured when Rafid Hameed headed into an open net in the last second after China had enacted the powerplay and thrown men forward.
China next face a daunting match against one of the world’s leading teams in Iran, while Iraq must shake off the disappointment of defeat and look to take all three points against Myanmar on Sunday.
Sergio Gargelli: China PR Head Coach
“We played a good first half, but in the second half our defence were shaky. When the (Iraqi) players played three times faster than what they would encounter in the Chinese Futsal League, we began to make mistakes, and were playing to their rhythm instead. But it’s a good lesson for us, to understand how we must compete and be smart.”
Haitham Abbas: Iraq Head Coach
First of all, it was a difficult match. In the first half, we made defensive mistakes, but after that we corrected our problems and scored four goals in the second half. I told my players during the break that I don’t want to see the same mistakes again, and the players showed it.