Socceroos slump to 3-1 loss to Iraq - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Socceroos slump to 3-1 loss to Iraq

By Guy Hand 13/07/2007 11:25:20 PM Comments (0)

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has questioned whether his star-studded line-up want to be at the Asian Cup after a dire 3-1 loss to Iraq in their second Group A match at Rajamangala Stadium.

The pre-tournament favourites were limp, lifeless and outplayed by a far better side after falling behind to a first-half goal.

The Socceroos equalised through skipper Mark Viduka just after half-time, before being picked apart defensively by the Iraqis on the hour for Hawar Mulla Mohammed to score a second.

Karrar Jassim Mohammed then finished the Socceroos off with a third goal with five minutes remaining to leave their tournament hanging by a thread.

Australia now need to beat Thailand in their final group match on Monday, and hope Iraq either draw with or beat Oman in their match being played simultaneously to move through to the quarter-finals.

Either way, the Socceroos won't top the group - second is the best they can manage and they would have to do it by finishing ahead of the Thais on a head-to-head countback.

But on their insipid effort against Iraq, it would a brave soul who thought Australia could turn things around in three days to beat the host nation.

Arnold, who entered the tournament attempting to keep his job towards the 2010 World Cup, didn't hold back on his players afterwards, questioning their attitude and whether playing in the tournament was really something they wanted to do.

"Looking at that game, I would say some players don't want to be here," Arnold said.

"Some of them - maybe it is too hard. Maybe the conditions are too hot. The fact that the stadiums aren't full.

"They can use heat and humidity as an excuse, but attitude comes a long way to it.

"You look at how they played ... some players, I'm questioning if they want to be out there."

The Socceroos were in trouble early when Iraqi midfielder Nashat Akram's long-range free-kick found the net on 22 minutes to give his side the lead after an error by Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Schwarzer failed to deal with the ball as it came in - Iraq's Saleh Sadir ghosting into his path appearing to put the keeper off as he simply stood despairingly as the ball drifted into the net.

Just as they were in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Oman in their Asian Cup opener, the Socceroos - with just one change to their starting line-up from that match as Arnold backed his players in - struggled for touch and to keep possession.

The speedy, well-drilled Iraqis caused problems in the back half throughout the match.

But skipper Mark Viduka bobbed up two minutes after half-time, heading home a Brett Emerton cross to equalise and give his side a sniff of victory.

Iraq, with Akram dominant in midfield, then grabbed back the lead after 60 minutes as Australia's suspect defence again fell to bits.

Akram's searching ball pierced them perfectly, finding Hawar to hammer home.

With Australia committing numbers forward, Iraq then added a third through Karrar to leave the Socceroos' first Asian Cup campaign on the brink.

Arnold flagged several changes for Monday's match - a high stakes encounter if ever there was one against a pumped-up host nation needing just a point to ensure their own qualification to the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

"We've got players on the bench who are desperate to get out there and play," he said.

"I'll have a look at that over the next 24 hours."

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