Match Reviews – Two Wins In Two, But Fans Are Still Left Feeling Disappointed With Katanec

Match Reviews For Iraq 2-0 Hong Kong & Iraq 4-0 Cambodia


Two consecutive victories should have left Iraqi fans feeling satisfied, yet fans were left with more questions than answers as Iraq secured all six points against group minnows Hong Kong and Cambodia. The initially excitement of seeing competitive football return to Iraq soon fizzled out after a narrow victory over Hong Kong in the newly developed Basra stadium. Meme was the star of the show, first scoring a superb header to give Iraq the lead and sending the home fans into a frenzy, before his skillful run in the second half led to a penalty. It would have been the perfect performance for Meme had he not missed a penalty early on in the game. It was Ali Adnan who comfortably slotted in the second penalty of the game instead.

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Football Finally Comes Home For Iraqis

Much of the media after the game involved Jiloan Hamad, who finally made his debut for the Iraqi national team. However, politics turned its ugly head once more as it appeared as if the local players, referred to as ‘mahhalyeen‘ were refusing to pass the ball to Jiloan after he was substituted on with 30 minutes to play. This proved to be yet another instance of expat Iraqi players being discriminated against in the national team, as has been discussed previously.

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Jiloan Barely Played During The Two Matches

The lack of clear vision and tactical play left Iraqi fans wanting more, despite the victory in Basra. Cambodia, off the back of a 14-0 loss to Iran, proved to be an excellent opportunity for Katanec to positively highlight the direction in which he is taking the Iraqi national team in. Instead, a generous 4-0 victory masked the reality of the quality of Iraq’s performance.

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Iraq’s Talisman

Goals from Ibrahim Bayesh, Meme, Amjed Atwan and Ahmed Ibrahim secured the points for Iraq vs. Cambodia, but it’s still difficult to explain what the overall gameplan for Iraq was:

  • Are we set up to counter-attack the opposition?
  • Are we playing a possession game, where we pass the ball until we can create chances?
  • Are we relying on pace and speed down the wings in order to stretch the opposition?

There’s little to no tactic quality being demonstrated by the manager in order to convince us he’s the right man for the job. Despite the fact that he actually has a very promising win record for the Iraqi national team, we have looked like a team without a vision or a solid style of play for over a year now. There is no way we will be qualifying for the World Cup if things don’t change soon.

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We’re Just As Confused As You Are, Katanec

Whenever our midfield takes control of the ball, we see the players passing the ball from side to side, without anyone creating anything meaningful with the ball. We lack a proper midfielder who can slice the defense open. Worse still, we also fail to create space in the middle of the pitch through runners from midfield. Instead, midfielders like Humam and Atwan are static and always waiting for the pass to come back to them. This ends up with the ball moving meaninglessly in the midfield whilst the opposition defense sits back and absorbs the pressure.

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Poor Quality Across The Pitch

The six points were crucial if we’re to have any hopes of qualifying for the World Cup, but there are massive holes in the team that are failing to be addressed by the manager. No Osama Rashid, Rewan Amin, nor Yaser Kasim, and we hardly saw Jiloan get a touch of the ball too – these are all huge players that can change the way Iraq play. However, instead we’re relying on proven failures like Humam Tariq, Alaa Abdulzahra and Amjed Atwan. Enough is enough!

Next fixtures:

14th November – Iraq vs. Iran (Basra Sports City)

19th November – Iraq vs. Bahrain (Basra Sports City)

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