FIFA WORLD CUP 2020: Bahrain-Iraq in goalless draw

Bahrain-Iraq at yesterday's match.
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Bahrain and Iraq played to a goalless draw last night in their joint-qualifier for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup 2023, held in Amman.

Bahrainis had very few chances to score in what was a tightly contested encounter. They did well, however, to defend against their highly regarded rivals, which was enough to claim a share of the points. The result was the second successive goalless stalemate for Bahrain in less than a week. They had previously drawn with Hong Kong, who was 2-0 winners over Cambodia in yesterday’s other fixture in qualification Group C.

Following both games, Iraq improved to 11 points on the group table as they maintained their two-point lead over Bahrain. Iran was idle yesterday and they stayed third with six points and a game in hand, while Hong Kong was fourth on five points and Cambodia fifth with one.

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Bahrain’s match yesterday was their last of the calendar year in the World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying. They have three games remaining and will resume their campaign on March 26 at home against Cambodia. They then play their Iranian counterparts in Tehran on June 4, before closing out this stage against Hong Kong at home on June 9. In this phase of the joint-qualifiers, there are eight groups in all, with five nations in each group. Teams play home and away matches. In the end, the eight group winners and the four best runners-up advance to the third round of World Cup qualifying and also book their berths in the Asian Cup. The next best 24 teams will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the Asian Cup.

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In last night’s match, the Bahrain team’s difficulty in scoring was again apparent as they barely troubled Iraqi goalkeeper. The Bahrainis’ best chance was in the second half with a freekick from just outside the box. However, it was shot inches wide of the top-right corner of the goal. Iraq had more chances but also could not find the finishing touch or beat the goalkeeper.

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