Iraq and Australia share points

Group A of final qualifying for 2008 Olympics opens with entertaining 0-0 draw.

    Iraq's Asian Cup star Karrar Jassim, front, takes on Australia's Matthew Spiranovic [Al Jazeera]

    Both sides pressed for a win when it would have been much easier to sit back and defend in the hot conditions, with the shared points a fair result in the end.

    Chances lost

    "For the first match, we played well against Australia who are a good team," Qassim Lizam, Iraq's coach, told Al Jazeera.

    "Most of the boys aren't used to those sort of conditions, so we had to slow the play down a bit to try and adapt to the heat"

    Stuart Musialik, Australia's captain, speaking after the match in Qatar

    "We lost a few chances to score, but the start is very difficult for everybody, especially for Iraq who don't play in their country.

    "I think for both Australia and Iraq, a draw first up is ok."

    John Kosmina, Australian assistant-coach, said the 'Olyroos' were content with the draw, although they could have done better.

    "We're very happy with the way we performed, obviously the point was good to get, but to be honest we're probably a little bit disappointed we didn't get all three," Kosmina told Al Jazeera.

    "We think we actually played well enough and had good periods in the game often enough to come away with a win.

    "To prepare in these conditions and put in a performance like that has been a fantastic effort from the players, and as a coach I'm very proud of them."

    Young team

    Australian assistant-coach John Kosmina
    was proud of his players [Al Jazeera]

    Australia's best chances fell to lone-forward Bruce Djite, who spearheaded a 4-1-4-1 formation, with his Adelaide United team-mate Nathan Burns pressing forward in attack.

    Djite sent a powerful header just wide in the 30th minute and also snatched at a shot from inside the box in the 58th minute that also missed the target.

    "I think you can judge from our performance tonight that we've got some very committed young boys out there, and they got stuck in and worked hard in very hot and humid conditions, as they've done in training over the last eight days," Kosmina said.

    "They got something out of it which was great to see."

    For Iraq, Karrar showed the brilliance and class he displayed at the Asian Cup, while forward Mostfa Abdulla was also dangerous in the second half with some incisive runs.

    Stuart Musialik, playing as Australian captain for the first time, was happy with his side's commitment to their game plan.

    "Our tactic was that when we were in possession of the ball to slow the play down as much as we could, because if we were running around and giving the ball away often, we just wouldn't have been able to cope," the Newcastle United player said.

    "Most of the boys aren't used to those sort of conditions, so we had to slow the play down a bit to try and adapt to the heat.

    "We came prepared and I think we played to our game plan pretty well."

    In other Olympic qualifiers, Korea Republic came from a goal down to beat 10-man Uzbekistan 2-1 in their Group B match in Seoul, while Bahrain also scored a 2-1 victory in their Group B match against Syria in Aleppo City.

    Meanwhile, Japan and Qatar both opened their Group C accounts with 1-0 home victories over Vietnam and Saudi Arabia respectively, and North Korea host Lebanon in the other Group A match on Thursday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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