Chinese national football team were held by Iraq to a 1-1 draw in
Changsha at the Helong Stadium on Wednesday and advance to next
year's Asian Cup finals as Group E runners-up.
"I'm very happy with the result. It was very difficult for us to
get prepared for this match as four of our best players couldn't
come to China," said Iraq coach Akram Salman.
"China played very well in the first half. But we made some
tactical changes after the break and put big pressure on them."
"We had a good run of play in the first half, especially in the
opening 15 minutes. If we continued that kind of performance and
seized more opportunities, we could have won the match," said
China's coach Zhu Guanghu.
"After the break the players felt tired and lost control of the
game." Zhu said.
Striker Han Peng opened the scoring for the hosts five minutes
before the break, tapping in from close range off Du Zhenyu's
accurate low cross.
Iraq levelled in the 65th minute when substitute striker Alwan
Ahmad headed home a fine corner.
China dominated the first half with fierce attacks from the
wings. Du Zhenyu and Wang Dong ran the roost, making several sharp
forays and keeping the Iraqi defence occupied with good
Hitman Li Jinyu produced two threatening headers before Wang
Dong missed a one-to-one drive on 38 minutes. Li gave a shining
solo performance before the break, only to find his acrobatic
volley denied by a focused Abbas Noor.
Iraq pushed forward in the second half, shutting out the Chinese
in midfield. Midfielder Ali Nashat smashed a thunderbolt from 40
meters, which left goalkeeper Li Leilei flailing but hit the
(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2006)