CHANGSHU: The national Under-23 squad were left wanting by 2013 champions Iraq when they went down 4-1 in their first Group C match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship at the Changshu Stadium earlier today.
There was nothing the young national side could do to take the fight to their opponents in chillingly cold weather of 3 degrees Celsius, as the Iraqis went ahead by two goals in the first half.
Dominic Tan’s inability to intercept Amjed Attwan Kadhim’s run allowed the Iraqi winger to send in a cross for Mohammed Khalid Jaffal to head in the first goal as early as the 5th minute.
Then a mistake by defender Syazwan Andik on the left resulted in Amjeed Attwan Kadhim once again getting the better of the Malaysian defense to score Iraq’s second goal in the 28th minute.
The Malaysians tried to get back into the game through moves in the right initiated by Matthew Davies, but forwards Jafri Firdaus Chew and Safawi Rasid failed to present any real threat.
Iraq, coached by Abdul Ghani Shahad were in control of the match and added a third goal thanks to Alaa Ali Mhawi in the 57th minute after he got the better of Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim.
The national side fought valiantly and refused to throw in the towel, and they’re efforts paid off when they pulled one back thanks to Safawi Rasid in the 79th minute, though the fightback was quashed when Hussein Al Saedi put the match beyond Malaysia’s reach with a fourth goal barely two minutes later.
The win puts Iraq, who finished third two years ago, in a comfortable position to make the quarter-finals, while Malaysia will have to pull off an upset against Jordan this Saturday in their second match at the same venue if they are to have any chance of advancing past the group stage.