FIFA U-17 World Cup: Dawood stars as Iraq get first point in draw with Mexico | fifa u17 world cup 2017 | Hindustan Times
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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Dawood stars as Iraq get first point in draw with Mexico

Iraq hold on against Mexico in FIFA U-17 World Cup to claim their first point of the tournament. Mohammed Dawood was the star for Iraq as he continued his impressive form from under-16 Asian championships last year.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 08, 2017 23:07 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Iraq took the lead early in the first half but were pegged back in the second half by Mexico.
Iraq took the lead early in the first half but were pegged back in the second half by Mexico.(PTI)

For the sport’s first world, Iraq is a football outpost. Mohammed Dawood and skipper Mohammed Ridha came close to changing that perception.

Dawood scored in the 16th minute, making the most of space left by Mexico playing a high line and rounding off goalie Cesar Lopez. It seemed like he had taken off from where he had left in the under-16 Asian championships in Goa last year where Iraq were crowned champions.

The Lions of Mesopotamia would have roared louder had the Iraq forward not gone wide, again after timing his run superbly to beat the off-side trap. That was in the 32nd minute. Mexico simply couldn’t cope with Dawood’s pace as was evident in the 69th minute when he winged past the left-back before putting too much on the ball.

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“We knew he is fast and smart and that Iraq would play long balls to use his pace. It was not a surprise,” said Mexico coach Mario Arteaga, adding he was happy with a point.

Early in the second half, Ridha went past the Mexico goalie but couldn’t get enough power behind his final push and it was cleared by Carlos Robles.

Mexico could have taken all three points if it was not for Iraq goalie Ali Ibadi who made some smart saves (HT PHOTO)

Soon after, Mexico equalised. But that was in no small measure due to a missed clearance from Abdulabbas Ayad. It gave Roberto de la Rossa the opportunity he was looking for. For the next few minutes, Mexico controlled the game and could have forged ahead too but Diego Lainez’s shot was kept out well by Iraq goalie Ali Ibadi.

Mexico have one of the best records in this competition but Iraq showed they were willing to walk coach Qahtan Chitheer’s pre-match talk. Mexico though gave back as good as they got.

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Soon after Dawood’s goal, De la Rosa was denied by Ibadi. On the half-hour mark, his header crashed into the upright and in the 39th, Robles’ header was saved by Ibadi.

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Iraq don’t have too many good memories of this venue with a certain Carlton Chapman ripping into their top club Al-Zawra and helping East Bengal to an unlikely victory in 1993. Two years, in a Nehru Cup where Bhaichung Bhutia debuted for India, they were held by the hosts.

That changed on Sunday when Iraq got their first point in the under-17 World Cup. “We wish we got three but we missed our chances. However, we will take this draw,” said Chitheer.