BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) -A brilliant individual goal from Iraq midfielder Yaser Kasim was the difference as the 2007 champions opened their Asian Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Jordan in Brisbane Monday.
Kasim broke the stalemate in the 77th minute when he collected the ball just outside the box and weaved his way through two defenders with a mazy run.
He found just enough space to squeeze out a shot, which took a wicked deflection off defender Tareq Khattab’s foot and gave keeper Amer Shafi no chance.
The win means Iraq are favourites to finish second in Group D after defending champions Japan thumped Palestine 4-0 earlier.
In a tight first-half little separated the two teams, who appeared to be more intent on not losing, rather than on winning.
Iraq’s goal-scoring hero from their 2007 Asian Cup final win over Saudi Arabia, Younis Mahmoud, played as a lone forward and was heavily marked by Jordan’s defence.
He had few opportunities to make an impact, however the best chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to him when he found space in the box only for his shot to be blocked by a lunging Khattab. The Iraqis came out firing after the break and dominated the second period.
Amjed Kalaf was especially dangerous down the right wing, his pace allowing him to get in behind the Jordanians.
But any attacking chances were quickly snuffed out by the scrambling defence.
Jordan were content to sit back and hit the Iraqis on the counterattack, and it almost paid dividends when the impressive Oday Al Saify found space, but his shot was headed away for a corner.