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Bahrain, Iraq rue missed opportunity

Bangkok: Iraq head coach Abdulghani Shahad blamed poor finishing for his side’s inability to pick up all three points from their meeting with Bahrain on Saturday as a host of missed chances saw them draw 2-2 with their fellow West Asians at the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020.

Mohamed Qasim rescued his side for the second game in a row as he came off the bench to score an added time equaliser to ensure the Iraqis go into their final game against Thailand on Tuesday knowing a win over the hosts will take them through to the quarter-finals.

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“Anyone who saw the game could see that our players wasted a lot of easy chances in front of goal,” said Shahad.

“That was very naïve. If we had been able to go in front at any point in the game things would have been totally different. We as a team, through our own play, wasted three points today.”

#AFCU23 - MD2 Group A: Bahrain 2-2 Iraq

Hashim Sayed Isa gave Bahrain the lead just before the interval but Iraq looked the more likely to score after the resumption and duly equalised through Amir Fouad on 65 minutes.

But Mohamed Marhoon’s (pictured below) diving header three minutes from time looked set to see Bahrain steal the win, only for Qasim to nod home in added time to rescue his team, three days after scoring the equaliser in Iraq’s opener against Australia.

“At halftime we made so many points about the Bahrain team and we discussed it with the players,” said Shahad. “We managed to get back into the game early and we were expecting to get the win for several reasons, like the fitness level and our successful substitutions.

“But although we expected to get the win and finish the match easily, what happened was the opposite as our players lacked the concentration and wasted easy chances in front of goal.”

While Bahrain head coach Samir Chammam conceded Iraq had the better chances throughout the second half, he was disappointed his team were unable to hold on for the win after Marhoon’s late header.

“As I expected, it was a physical game,” he said. “We played against a strong opponent. Iraq is a good team and they have many quality players. But this was a decent result because we lost the first match of the tournament."

“But a draw is not enough for us. Iraq had several chances to score and we look at it that we were leading until the last minute and the win got away from us.

"We have one more match and all we can try to do is win it so that we get to four points and then we have to hope that we can qualify.”

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