Sunday, July 08, 2007

Asia Cup Kicks Off: Thailand 1 v Iraq 1 - Man of Match: Nashat Akram

Thailand won a penalty on 5 minutes. This sparked Iraq to life and a star role for 23 year old Nashat Akram.

Iraq's Brazilian coach, Jorvan Vieira, was appointed for this event in May. He may have been influential, but we all know Iraq'a story and he has had little time to mold a group of players located across Middle Eastern football.

In the first half, Iraq were attractive to watch. Dominating the game with long and short passing moves. Starving Thailand of ball and forward options. They play a physical game not unlike an A-League team. Nashat Akram was central to Iraq's organisation. Running hard and far for possession and to set-up attacks. Plus he was prepared to strike from outside the box. And he created the highlight of the match, a bicycle kick that Thailand's goalkeeper superbly palmed onto the cross-bar. On 32 minutes, Iraq got their equaliser with a tame header over a stranded keeper from a left sided free kick.

Iraq appeared to want little more from the game. It was hot. And wet, with rain through the match. In the second half their game plan altered from a full court press to 10 players behind the ball and largely allowing Thailand possession. Iraq's lone striker looked alone and with few options.

The possession improved the look of Thailand's game but they failed to show much attacking strength. The game ground down.

Thailand is in some political turmoil due to their football fanatic Prime Minister being deposed. Ex PM Thaksin Shinawatra has bid $162.5 million for Mancester City after failed bids for Fulham and Liverpool. The FA have to deem him a fit and proper person to own an EPL club before he gets the keys. hmmmmmm.

The stadium was half full, reflecting the weather and political situation. The Asia Cup can be seen on Fox and at public venues across Australia.

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