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 By John Duerden

Syria can learn from Iraq to upset Socceroos in World Cup playoff

Tim Cahill discusses his new role with Australia and praises Thailand's resilience in their World Cup Qualifier.

Australia were full of confidence when they arrived at their first Asian Cup in 2007, with talk of winning the tournament undefeated. A loss in the second game against Iraq quickly put paid to that ambition, while providing an instant dose of humility.

The Lions of Mesopotamia had talent, yet were not one of the favourites. With the homeland torn apart by invasion and war, preparations had been poor. Yet despite, or some would say because of the difficulties, a resilient Iraq went on to lift the...

Japan book World Cup place, China win while Koreans draw with Iran

Japan qualified for their sixth straight World Cup following their 2-0 win over Australia.
Australia's Jackson Irvine credits Japan's game plan and still feels Australia can qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Japan booked their berth at next year's World Cup finals as Vahid Halilhodzic's side handed Australia a 2-0 defeat on Thursday evening that guarantees the Samurai Blue top spot in Group B of Asia's qualifying campaign for Russia 2018.

Takuma Asano gave the Japanese the lead four minutes before the half-time break when he was left unmarked to slide Yuto Nagatomo's cross beyond Mat Ryan to put Japan in front after Mathew Leckie had earlier hit the post for the Socceroos.

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Eight minutes from time...

 By AAP

Iraq international Ali Abbas joins Wellington Phoenix

Ali Abbas
Iraq international Ali Abbas has returned to the Australian top flight.

Wellington Phoenix have signed former Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC star Ali Abbas for a return to the A-League.

The Iraq international's two-season deal completes the Phoenix's squad under new coach Darije Kalezic.

The 30-year-old Abbas already boasts 128 A-League games, having played three seasons with the Jets followed by four at Sydney FC before one-season with South Korean outfit Pohang Steelers.

Abbas, an Australian citizen, was pleased to put his disappointing Korean stint, where he barely...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Former Iraq boss Vieira marks 10th anniversary of Asian Cup triumph

Australia prevailed 3-2 against Saudi Arabia courtesy of Tom Rogic's second half stunner.
Former Iraq coach, Jorvan Vieira in 2007
Iraq won their one and only Asian Cup title under Brazilian Jorvan Vieira, third from right, in 2007.

On the 10th anniversary of Iraq's shock 2007 AFC Asian Cup triumph, then-coach Jorvan Vieira says tea drinking, and sleepless nights of checking on his players, were the keys to the football success of a war-torn nation.

Iraq stunned Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final, having beaten South Korea on penalties in the semifinals, and Vietnam in the quarterfinals.

In the group stage, they upset Australia 3-1 and drew with co-hosts Thailand and Oman.

"The secret was not to sleep. Even early in the morning,...

Qatar hand South Korea shock defeat; Japan and China waste leads in draws

Japan failed to distance themselves atop Group B as Iraq held the Blue Samurai to a 1-1 draw.

The progress of Japan to the World Cup finals hit a roadblock on Tuesday evening as a second-half goal from Mahdi Kamil earned Iraq a 1-1 draw that leaves Vahid Halilhodzic's side in an ever-tightening battle for an automatic berth at Russia 2018.

Yuya Osako scored eight minutes into the game in Tehran to put the Japanese ahead. But Mahdi's goal for the already-eliminated Iraqis complicates Japan's road to the finals.

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The four-time Asian champions are now just one point clear of Saudi Arabia...