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Iraq shocks Asian Cup favorites Japan with Aymen Hussein's brace

Posted : 19 January 2024

In a surprising turn of events, Iraq pulled off a stunning upset against Asian Cup favorites Japan, securing their spot in the knockout stages with a memorable performance highlighted by Aymen Hussein's first-half brace. Hussein took advantage of Japan's defensive lapse as he headed the Lions of Mesopotamia into an early lead at Qatar's Education City Stadium. The Japanese goalkeeper, Zion Suzuki, struggled to deal with a cross, allowing Hussein to capitalize on the opportunity.


As the first half approached its conclusion, Hussein struck again with another header, this time connecting with Ahmed Al-Hajjaj's cross. Japan, ranked 17th in the world and considered a tournament favorite, found themselves trailing by two goals at halftime. Despite their efforts, Japan managed to pull one back in injury time, with Liverpool's Wataru Endo heading in a consolation goal.


This victory marked the first time in 42 years that Iraq, ranked 63rd in the world, defeated Japan, ending a nine-game unbeaten streak for the Samurai Blue against the Lions of Mesopotamia. The win puts Iraq in a comfortable position, having previously secured a victory against Indonesia. Japan, on the other hand, now faces the challenge of needing a positive result in their final group stage match against Indonesia to advance to the knockout stages.


With the top two teams automatically advancing and the four best third-placed teams also progressing, both Iraq and Japan have crucial fixtures ahead to determine their fate in the tournament. Hosts Qatar and Australia have already secured their places in the knockout stages, adding further anticipation to the remaining group stage matches.


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