Iraq’s World Cup dream almost spoiled
The mach was run at the Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Muscat on Tuesday. The only goal of the match was scored in the first-half injury-time by Ismail Al-Ajmi whose header easily past Iraq’s goalkeeper, Noor Sabri.
The goal boosted Oman’s chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and put Oman in second in Group B on nine points, ahead of Australia, Jordan and Iraq, lying last with only five points.
With time running out on an uneventful first half, Ismail al-Ajmi headed the winner past keeper Noor Sabri Abbas and striker Humam Tareq Faraj, who failed to clear it off the line.
The victory moves Oman into second in Group B behind Japan which became the first team to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil with a 1-1 draw against Australia. Oman and Japan only have a match remaining while Australia, Iraq and Jordan have two matches.
Oman had several counterattacks in the second half that nearly doubled its lead. Al-Ajmi fired a close-range strike from just inside the area that Abbas swatted away in the 60th minute and Abdul Aziz twice got behind the defense and fired shots just wide in the 80th and 88th minute.
Iraq’s only real chance in the first half came on 39 minutes, from a long pass from the right which found Alaa Abulzahra free on the left but Oman’s Raad Ibrahim Salih was alert to the danger and was able to clear the ball for a corner.
Iraq rarely challenged Omani keeper Faiyz al-Rusheidi, as the Omani defense largely contained striker Younus Mahmood. The Iraqi captain had a good chance in the 87th when he took a pass in the area but fired a weak shot just to the right of the goal.
Iraq still has a mathematical chance of advancing, but is bottom of the group and its two remaining matches are against Asian heavyweights Japan and Australia.
Iraq's Muthana Khalid (R) challenges Oman's Ismail al-Ajmi (L) during their group B Asian zone qualifying football match for the 2014 World Cup in Muscat, on June 04, 2013.