Soccer: Japan draws with Iraq to move one win away from World Cup
Japan Times -- Jun 14
Japan is one win away from qualifying for its sixth consecutive World Cup after grinding out a 1-1 draw away to Iraq on Tuesday.

Yuya Osako opened the scoring early for Japan, but Mahdi Kamil equalized midway through the second half as the Group B sides shared the points in the Iranian capital.

With two games left in the Asian final qualifiers, group leader Japan improved to 17 points, one point ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia.

If Vahid Halilhodzic’s men beat Australia at home in their next game on Aug. 31, Japan will automatically qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia. Should it fail to win against the Socceroos, Japan’s fate will rest on its last qualifying match on Sept. 5 at Saudi Arabia.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Halilhodzic said. “I’m not sure what happened when we conceded because there was some confusion, but we didn’t give Iraq much and they managed to score.

“I told the team at halftime that we can kill off the game if we score a second but then we let one in. We were exhausted, and could not carry out the plan we had in place.”

Halilhodzic’s boss, Japan Football Association president Kozo Tashima, was not happy with the performance.

News source: Japan Times
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