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Asian Qualifiers - Group C: Iraq back in business as they see off Cambodia

Muharraq: Iraq marked their return to the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 with a 4-1 victory over Cambodia in Group C on Monday. 

Iraq were the last team in the group to resume their campaign, with their rivals having played four days ago, and the West Asians hit the ground running as they reclaimed top spot with the win, with Islamic Republic of Iran and Bahrain to meet later on Monday.

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The Lions of Mesopotamia quickly pressed Cambodia into a defensive position and within the first 20 seconds, Mohanad Ali received a pass outside the box and took advantage of a flustered Cambodian defence to send his strike into the bottom left corner of the net to open the scoring.

It was a costly wake up call for Cambodia, who lost 8-0 to Bahrain last week, but the Southeast Asians should have equalised in the 17th minute when Sieng Chanthea collected a long range cross into the area, before setting up Lim Pisoth for the finish who, however, shot straight at goalkeeper Jalal Hassan.

Iraq remained very much in control of possession and continued to keep the Cambodian backline busy with their runs into the final third, and in the 23rd minute, Human Tariq collected a pass in the box and pulled back for Bashar Resan (pictured below, centre) to slot past goalkeeper Keo Soksela to double their advantage.

Two minutes later, things turned worse for Cambodia when Iraq were awarded a penalty after Prak Mony Udom’s tackle on Tariq, and Ali Adnan made no mistake in converting the spot-kick.

Iraq maintained their fast paced tempo in the second half, while Cambodia slowly found their footing and looked dangerous with their crosses deep into enemy territory.

Ryu Hirose’s Cambodian side had another chance at goal in the 55th minute after Iraq’s Safaa Hadi fouled Orn Chanpolin 20 yards out. Substitute Sath Rosib’s free-kick found an unmarked Soeuy Visal, who headed home their first goal since their group opener against Hong Kong in September 2019.

Despite the two-goal cushion, Iraq were out for more and in the 75th minute, Ali Husni collected Mohammed Dawood’s through pass into the box and slotted past Saksala only to be called offside.

There was, however, to be a fourth goal for Iraq with Safaa Hadi rising high to head home Ali Adnan's corner kick in the third minute of added time.

Iraq will be hoping to maintain their winning momentum when they face Hong Kong on Friday, while Cambodia will look to end their campaign on a positive note against Islamic Republic of Iran.

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