posted on Jul, 18 2004 @ 05:36 PM
China (AP) - Iraq returned to a major competition for the first time since the U.S. led invasion a year ago, losing to Uzbekistan 1-0 despite a
second-half surge in the Asian Cup opener for both teams.
Mirdjalal Kasimov scored the lone goal on a free kick in the 22nd minute that put Uzbekistan atop Group C.
In other games, Turkmenistan tied three-time champion Saudi Arabia 2-2 and Indonesia beat Qatar 2-1.
Iraq's appearance comes two weeks after Germany's Bernd Strange resigned as coach. Under new coach Adnan Hamd, the team was surprisingly sharp with
its passing and showed little sign of fatigue despite hampered training at home.
"To be honest, I think we played hard and played a good game," Hamd said. "Although we lost, I think we still have a chance."
Kasimov bent a kick over the Iraqi wall and past goalkeeper Ahmed Jaber. Uzbekistan dominated the rest of the half before a crowd of about 2,000 at
newly built Longquanyi Stadium. Iraq dominated the second half, getting its best chance from Razzaq Farhan, who moved the ball the length of the
Both teams finished with 10 men. Uzbekistan defender Alexey Nikolaev was ejected in the 83rd minute for a second yellow card and Mohammed Emad was
sent off for Iraq with a red card in the 87th.