2019 Asian Cup: Iraq Squad Individual Player Ratings

Goalkeepers

Jalal Hassan – The Captain. All eyes were on the number one spot in goal coming into this tournament. Jalal did very little to ease these concerns and failed to make a claim for this position in the opening game. A miscommunication between Ali Faez and a weak hand on the ball led to two Vietnamese goals, albeit they were not entirely his fault. The Al-Zawraa ‘keeper managed to keep a cool head in the second half as Iraq clinched 3 vital points. Fortunately, we were up against the weakest team in the second game and Jalal was not tested much but for a few routine saves. Credit must go to Jalal as he could have easily lost his concentration when Iraq were dominating the game. Did not need be called into action against Iran as there were no shots on target. Two clean sheets in three. Would it have been harsh to expect him to make a save from Bassam’s winning freekick for Qatar? Perhaps so. 6/10

Mohammed Hameed – N/A

Mohammed Gassid – N/A

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A Horrible Start For Jalal

Defenders

Frans Dhia Putros – Played in an unusual position as the central centre-back in a three-man defence against Vietnam. Frans was unfortunate to be sacrificed for Bashar Resen in the first 30 minutes of the game for tactical reasons just after Iraq had equalised and has lost his place ever since. Not done much wrong. 6/10

Waleed Salim – What Waleed Salim lacks in non-existent attacking threat, he makes up for in decent defensive showings. Didn’t have a lot to do down his side of the pitch, although credit due for eliminating most of the threat on the right-hand side vs. Vietnam. Came off injured against Vietnam late on in the second half and lost his place for the more energetic Alaa Mhawi since. 5/10

Ahmed Ibrahim – The Rock. A commanding and defensively solid display throughout the tournament from our vice-captain. It would be hard to find an instance where the Al-Arabi centre-back was out-muscled, out-played or out of position across the three games. Questions were asked on whether Ahmed could hold the defensive line after the Yemen game, one which most fans expected a clean sheet in, and keep out the Iranian attack – including talisman Sardar Azmoun who was touted as the pre-tournament favourite for the Golden Boot. The most experienced player in an Iraqi shirt that day put an end to all pre-existing doubts. An enormous improvement as a whole since the World Cup qualifiers. A Colossal. 8/10

Ali Faez – It was uncharacteristic of the former Caykur Rizespor defender to have a nervy game, especially in the opener where a cool head was needed to ease any tension. His performance in the second half will unfortunately be overshadowed by his own goal, a result of a lack of communication with his ‘keeper. Ali was dropped subsequently for the Yemen game but was reintroduced immediately in the next one – quite telling of the coach’s trust in him. And boy did he repay that faith against Iran. Ali asserted himself comfortably on the ball and dealt with numerous attacks down his side, testament to his clever reading of the game. However, there were instances where he looked a bit shaky against Qatar, which shows he’s still got lots to learn. 6/10

Ali Adnan – The Italian from Baghdad. I’d rather not focus too much on Allawi’s poor ball retention and infamous runs where he twists and turns and eventually loses the ball rather than taking the easier option of just playing the square ball. Or how the on-loan Atalanta wing-back nearly cost us a penalty for his clumsy challenge inside the box against Iran. Allawi’s ability to find his teammate in a goal-scoring positions cannot be questioned as was seen when he turned provider for Bashar Resan’s goal against Yemen. That free-kick goal against Vietnam to win the game in the 91st minute alone boosts his rating by at least two levels. 7/10

Alaa Mhawi – Came on for the injured Waleed Salim in the first game and won the all-important free-kick in the dying moments. His energy and drive going forward was what Iraq needed and has solidified his place at right-back. His partnership with Ahmed Yasin must improve, however. Alaa makes great runs but frequently loses the ball high up the pitch, leaving us exposed to a counter attack. 7/10

Rebin Sulaka – Brought back into the side against Yemen after the coach reverted to a four at the back following a poor first-half defensive display from his counterpart. A calm and collected player on the ball who had the time and world to recycle the ball to his teammates easily. A solid defensive performance. Will be competing with Ali Faez for a starting position from now. 7/10

Saad Natiq – N/A

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Iraq’s Defensive Rock: Ahmed Ibrahim

 

Midfielders

Osama Rashid – Huge expectations were riding on the Santa Clara midfield maestro’s shoulders coming into this tournament following Osama’s heroics with the newly-promoted Portuguese club. Unfortunately for Osama, as the more creative midfielder of the two against Vietnam, he failed to create any real threat down the middle of the pitch. It will be difficult to see how he can reclaim his position from now given the lack of opportunities awarded to him. 5/10

Safaa Hadi – The Engine. They say 71% of the Earth is covered in water and the rest is covered by Safaa Hadi. Nothing fancy, breaks up the play with ease and is not afraid to take one for the team. The Al-Zawraa man is a calm head on the ball picking out his teammates with finely-weighted passes to start an attack. N’golo who? Ooooohhh Safaa Hadi, I want curly hair too! 9/10

Hussein Ali – A quality player that failed to make his mark in the Asian Cup, where he only showed glimpses of what he can deliver. Great at beating an opponent, the winger failed to create any serious chances or goal threats throughout the tournament. Has he turned out to be as good as we had all hoped initially? Not for me. 6/10

Bashar Resan – Bashar was introduced just before the second half against Vietnam and piled on the pressure which helped inspire his team to victory by linking well with his teammates and creating several chances in the opposition box. The Asian Champions League finalist scored from a deflected effort to steer the Usood Al Rafidayn into a comfortable lead going into the second half against Yemen. Was subbed on in the second half against Iran but failed to make a significant impact on the game. It was the same situation against Qatar, where he failed to create anything meaningful for the attackers. 6/10

Ahmed Yasin – A disappointing and frustrating tournament so far from Ahmed who hasn’t been the most effective in attack. Alongside Alaa Mhawi, they just haven’t been on the same wavelength and look completely lost on the right-hand side. The over/under hit crosses and tame efforts on goal have summed up the winger’s deterioration whilst he’s settled into the Qatari league. Did well to latch onto the cross and head the ball back into the path of Alaa Abbas’ who slotted in the third goal vs. Yemen. However, this papers over cracks at a largely lacklustre performance overall from the pacey winger. I’d like to see Ahmed find a European club to help him find his feet once again. 4/10

Humam Tariq – The Workhorse/Playmaker/Pretty much everything in between. No doubt Humam will have been disappointed to not start from the get-go but the Esteghlal FC midfielder managed to silence his critics and even surprise most his most staunch fans with his display against Vietnam in the last half an hour. His much-needed urgency and energy were rewarded with the equalising goal against Vietnam to turn the game on its head. Humam was rested on the hour-mark against Yemen to keep the Iranian-based player fresh for the encounter against Team Melli. Not much needs to be said after that as Humam was fired up and worked his socks off. You’d need to have a special performance to out-shine Mimi. Many fans will be left wondering whether we would have defeated Qatar if not for his injury. 9/10

Amjad Atwan – Amjad was subbed on against Yemen with the 3 points all but wrapped-up and started the game against Iran. Eyebrows were raised at his inclusion, but he did enough to justify his place with the midfield battle won in our favour. Looked okay against Qatar too, but nothing more. How he starts ahead of Osama Rashid, I’ll never know. 5/10

Ali Husni – Looked exciting against Qatar after a lengthy spell out injured, only to pick up an injury after replacing an injured Humam Tariq. Left the pitch in tears. N/A

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Safaa Has A Special Future Ahead Of Him

 

Forwards

Mohanad Ali – The Golden Boy. The most complete forward I have ever seen in an Iraqi shirt. Technical ability, physicality, and a thunderous strike. Mimi is an absolute menace to the opposition and was constantly looking to capitalise on defensive fragility. A lethal combination, no doubt, proven with his two goals against Vietnam and Yemen. The Al-Shorta striker can turn an average ball into a great attacking opportunity whether it be a head on goal or to hold the ball up and invite his teammates into the attack. When Mimi doesn’t skip past and make a mockery of defenders before eventually finding the back of the net, he turns provider as he helped set up Humam’s equaliser. A goal which swung the momentum in the Iraqi favour and kick-started the campaign with a vital win. Against Iran and Qatar, it was no different – Mimi intelligently made space for himself to get on the end of crosses and created space for a shot on target. A performance which had Asia’s best defensive opposition on their toes all game. This young and fearless striker will no doubt have attracted the football world with his displays. Let’s hope he can continue this form for many years. 9/10

Alaa Abbas – Super sub. The number 21 came on against Yemen with 21 minutes to go and found the net with a composed finish right at the death. The Al-Zawraa forward nearly won Iraq the game in the late stages against Iran with a flicked header that was dealt with by the Iranian ‘keeper who somehow got his fingertips to the ball. Now that would have been something to write home about. 8/10

Mohammed Dawood – The 2016 Asian Cup Under 17s Champion, MVP and Golden Boot winner earned a last-minute call-up to the squad replacing midfielder Mahdi Kamel. The young Al-Naft striker grasped this opportunity with both hands when he was subbed on in the 89th minute against a Yemeni side who were 2-0 down. Mohammed made an instant impact when he out-paced the opposition defender on the right-hand side and crossed an inviting ball for Iraq to score their third goal and seal the three points needed to progress to the knockout stages. Came on as a sub against Iran and Qatar late on but no significant impact. 6/10

Ayman Hussein – N/A

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Meme Is A Special Talent

 


Player of the Tournament: Safaa Hadi

A special mention needs to go to Safaa, who has shown himself to be a unique talent in Asian football. Calm, cool and composed, the curly-haired one has been a breath of fresh air for Iraq, where has has dictated play and marked dangerous players out of the game with minimal fuss. The future is special for this one, and it’s a matter of time before he lands himself a big move abroad.

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Iraq’s Pirlo

 

 

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