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Iraq started the final on a very quick tempo and took the Saudi's by surprise. Even though Iraq dominated the first half they could not get a goal that matched their play even though they had some very good chances.
Like as been said before, not many people thought that Iraq would reach this far especially after their less than ideal preparations for the tournament, but Iraq proved everybody wrong with some slick football, very good ball control and discipline.
There was no doubt that Iraq had more hunger to win this final than Saudi Arabia whom I thought never got going until the last few minutes of the match where they put Iraq's goal under some siege. But by then it was too late.
Iraq's dominance of midfield made sure that they cut off all supplies to the Saudi strikers leaving the goalkepper Noor Sabri Abbas with little to do until the latter stages of the match.
There was always the danger that Saudi Arabia could score just one goal against the run of play and defend it and go on to win like they did against Uzbekistan but this time they found the Iraq defence solid tight.
Iraq's defence was well organised as it thwarted the few counter attacks that the Saudi's launched. Its not surprising then to see that Iraq conceded only two goals in the whole tournament and of those two one was a penalty which means they conceded just one against the Socceroos from open play.
Unfortunately Iraq will defend their title without their Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira but for now its time for celebration.
As a side-note, in the third/fourth place play-off match, Korea Republic once again failed to score and had to rely on the penalty shoot out to beat Japan and hence gain qualification to the next edition of the Asian Cup to be hosted by Qatar.
Credit to both coaches who fielded strong teams for the third place match and the match deserved a goal at least but none came and the result places Japan as fouth best down from first.
I see Japan and Korea with their record of qualifying to the World Cup taking two of the places but Korea especially is not playing that well but well I will still think they are good enough to qualify. That will leave 1.5 places. Now this is the interesting bit. I have the Socceroos, Uzbekistan, Iran, China, Thailand, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia all vying for this 1.5 places. Obviously it wont be as easy as this but that gives you an idea of how tough qualifying through Asia can be.