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Iraq Gives Indonesia Six of the Best
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Mohammed Khadum, Iraq's goalkeeper celebrates his clean sheet and his team's 6 - 0 victoryIraq cruised to the top of Group B in the first round of the men's football tournament with a thumping 6-0 win over Indonesia at the Al-Ahli Sports Club on Saturday evening.

Goals from Kamar Muhamed, Ahmed Mohammed, Ali Rehema, Ali Alwan and Mostafa Abd Alla (2) gave Iraq a well-deserved victory over an energetic, but technically limited Indonesian side – which finished the game with nine men.

Hendra Ridwan was dismissed by referee Yang Zhiqiang of China in the 44th minute for a second bookable offence, with his team already three goals adrift. He was joined by Herman Rhomansyah in the 78th minute who, after already receiving a yellow card for a hefty challenge, complained too vociferously and was promptly dismissed.

Time after time the Indonesian defence was carved open by a well-organised Iraqi team, who will have enjoyed this confidence-boosting win. Winger Samer Mujbel caught the eye while captain Rehema bossed the midfield and crowned a superb display with the game's best goal – a curling 30 yard free-kick into the top left hand corner of the net in the 87th minute.

First half goals from Muhamed, Mohammed and Abd Alla had put Iraq well in control and a second from Abd Alla, one from substitute Alwan, and Rehema's screamer, sealed a satisfying evening in the second half.

There was little to cheer for Indonesia's enthusiastic band of supporters, but its best moments featured right back Zulkifli Syukur. In the last minute of the first half he delivered a superb cross for Tony Sucipto, only to see the midfielder slice his shot wildly over the bar when he should have done better.

Syukur also came closest for Indonesia in the second half when he broke free on the right hand side and swung a decent effort just over the bar.

For Indonesia's Dutch coach Foppe de Haan, Iraq's superiority during the match provided plenty of problems for his inexperienced players.

"We had a lot of problems and Iraq was very good at changing their positions and handling the speed of the ball – their positional play was so much better. We were chasing far too much while they were very comfortable on the ball, but we have to learn to play at this level. "

"I feel we were unlucky to get two red cards, but it was a really bad match for us. Our goalkeeper Galih Sudaryono and Hendra played well, but the others did not play to their normal level."

Indonesia's hopes of qualification to Round 2 already look bleak with matches against Syria and Singapore yet to come – their group rivals having fought out a dour 0-0 draw earlier in the day. But for Iraq, it has laid down an early marker with its intentions for big things at Doha 2006.

( November 18, 2006)

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