Tag: Iraq

The Confederations Cup: Spain 1-0 Iraq

It took Spain 40 years to rebuild their national team into a championship-winning force, so 55 minutes was never going to be too long to wait.  Still, that’s how long they were kept at bay by Bora Milutinovic’s limited but very well-organised Asian champions. With ten men behind the ball throughout, Iraq stifled the Spanish attack to such a degree that, had it been an incarnation of the same side from a few years ago, one might have wondered an upset was on the cards.  However, the European Champions are very difficult to bargain with at the moment, and that they would eventually get the result was never much in doubt. Still, Vincente del Bosque’s side will be mindful of their need to address their sluggish start.  For all of Iraq’s well-drilled defending, the Asian side’s key weapon was their opponents’ composure in front of goal.  Several very good opportunities went begging before Spain even registered their first shot on target, a tame header by Joan Capdevilla from Xavi’s free kick with 40 minutes played. Iraq will perhaps be disappointed with their defending of set pieces overall, in fact: for such a disciplined side, the majority of their best work stemmed Spain’s ambitions from open play.  When the dead ball routines were brought to bear, however, Iraq always looked a step behind the European Champions.  David Villa, who had...

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The Confederations Cup: South Africa 0-0 Iraq

It is winter in South Africa at the moment, and it was a winter of discontent in Johannesburg this afternoon as South Africa played out an energy-sappingly drab goalless draw to open this year’s Confederations Cup. South Africa’s performance was poor enough for questions to be asked about whether they will become the first host nation in the history of the World Cup to not qualify from their group in the final stages of the competition. Iraq, a team already knocked out of next year’s World Cup by Qatar in the Third Round of the AFC qualifying stage, looked like a decent enough team but offered little threat of beating the host nation, but still came away from the match with a point after South Africa missed a stack of chances including one of the worst misses of the year in the closing stages of the match. On an overcast day, and with the droning sound of thousands of vuvuzelas (plastic horns which, when blown in unison, make the sound of a plague of locusts) constantly in the background, South Africa offered little promise of being much better than most of the dismal reviews of their recent progress have been. Macbeth Sibayo had a long rang shot well saved by the Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Kassid and substitute Katlego Mashego broke through only to see his shot smothered by Kassid....

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The Confederations Cup – A (Very) Rough Guide

For some people, the end of the football season in years that end with odd numbers means a return to the real world. For two and a half months they become normal people, spending time with family and friends, allowing their sofas and their wallets to recover from the arduous few months that have just passed and giving every impression of being normal, well-rounded human beings. Others choose to prop themselves up with another sport, like tennis, cricket or rugby league. The rest of us, though, are suddenly rudderless. In years ending in even numbers, the end of the domestic football season means the beginning of getting excited about the World Cup or the European Championships (which is often better than the tournament itself). Those years ending in odd numbers, though… we spend the summer months staring blankly at “Big Brother” on the television or sitting in the pub wondering if it would be improper to try and instigate a conversation amongst your friends on the subject of just how much Roger Tames looked like Roger de Courcey (of “Nookie Bear” fame). This year, though, we have the Confederations Cup. FIFA’s excuse for the Confederations Cup makes a degree of sense. It’s a warm up for next years World Cup finals – chance for the host nation to test out its media and transport infrastructure prior to the tournament...

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