Qantas Joeys second in group at AFC U-16 Championship

The Qantas Joeys have finished in second position of Group of the AFC U-16 Championship 2012 after losing to Iraq in a dramatic penalty shoot-out Tehran.

The Qantas Joeys have finished in second position of Group of the AFC U-16 Championship 2012 after losing to Iraq in a dramatic penalty shoot-out Tehran.

Going into the match, both the Qantas Joeys and Iraq had exactly the same number of points, goals scored and goals conceded after two matches.

Qantas Joeys head coach Alistair Edwards started with just three players that began the Oman match and handed AFC U-16 Championship debuts to goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell, defender Matthew Schmidt and midfielder Matthew Ntoumenopoulos.

In Iraq's starting XI, only defender Mustafa Mohammed had yet to feature in Muwafaq Hussein's side, which showed six changes from the team that took to the field against Thailand, with striker Mustafa Sameer suspended after picking up yellow cards in Iraq's first two Group B games.

Chances were few and far between in the opening exchanges of a cagey first-half that Iraq began to dominate in terms of possession and opportunities.

The Qantas Joeys were fortunate that Matthew Stewart was well-positioned to block Amjed Kareem's 30th minute shot towards an unguarded net after Salman Ali had lifted the ball over the onrushing Thurtell.

Three minutes later Thurtell got down smartly to keep out a powerful free-kick from Iraq defender Mahdi Abdulzahra before Kareem's trickery put himself in shooting range only to fire high over the bar towards the end of the first-half.

Ten minutes into the second-half Edwards made two substitutions in quick succession, handing tournament debuts to forward Bai Antoniou and midfielder Jordan Pudler, who replaced Steve Kuzmanovski and Matthew Ntoumenopoulos respectively.

Iraq continued to dominate and in the 65th minute Edwards made his final substitution with Jack Iredale, a starter in the matches against Thailand and Oman, replacing debutant Schmidt in defence.

An Iraqi substitute Samer Majid, who entered the fray in the 70th minute when he come on for Salman Ali, almost broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute but Thurtell got down sharply to thwart the midfielder before his counterpart Hayder Mohammed saved spectacularly from Pudler's long-range effort a minute later.

Iraq had their appeals for a penalty waved away by Korean referee Kim Jong-hyeok after the ball appeared to strike the arm of Iredale as the Qantas Joeys defended a corner late in the game.

Thurtell again came to the Qantas Joeys rescue when he kept out Ahmed Majid's shot at his near post in stoppage-time.

With the game finishing goalless and with both sides having an identical record, this meant that a seldom used regulation was enacted where the final placing in the group would be determined by kicks form the penalty mark.

The Qantas Joeys were the first to take their attempt with substitute Jack Iredale stepping up and placing his shot to the left sending the Iraqi goalkeeper, Hayder Mohammed Faisal, in the opposite direction.

Iraqi substitute Ahmed Abdulabbas Fadhil Aldaoos took his team-s first penalty and put it in to the left although Qantas Joeys goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell did dive in the right direction but was unable to block the shot.

Qantas Joeys captain James Baldacchino was the next to step up, but his well taken shot hit the crossbar and bounced away from goal. Another Iraqi substitute, Samer AL-Mahdawi, made no mistake with his attempt to give his team a 2-1 lead.

Qantas Joeys substitute Bai Antoiniou took his team-s third penalty and his powerful shot cannoned off the left goalpost and away from goal. Iraqi midfielder Ali Isam Kadhim had a chance to extend his team-s lead but his shot went wide left to keep the score at 2-1 to Iraq.

Another Qantas Joeys substitute, Jordan Pudler, followed only to see his shot to the right well saved by Faisal. Thurtell then gave the Qantas Joeys hope when he saved Iraq-s next attempt from Yasi Sami with a good diving save to his right.

Todd Norris then brought the scoreline to 2-2 when he sent Faisal the wrong way to find the back of the net with his shot. Knowing that a goal would provide Iraq with the “win” Mahdi Al-Korji slotted home the final penalty to seal a 3-2 result and top place in the group for his team.

After the match, Qantas Joeys Head Coach Alistair Edwards was happy with how his team has performed in the tournament so far and is looking forward to meeting IR Iran in the quarter-finals.

"With an eye on having players fresh for the quarter final we made 8 changes from the starting X1's of the previous two games against Thailand and Oman, the Iraqi's rested 6 starting players,” Edwards said.

"Bai Antonio and Jordan Pudler made their international debuts and did very well when they came on in the second half.

"We have gone through the groups stages undefeated and today we kept another clean sheet, the only goal we have conceded so far in the tournament being a penalty"

“The first two games and the latter stages of today's game have been excellent in terms of performance and we are all very much looking forward to what will be an exciting quarter final game against Iran."

In the other group B match Oman defeated Thailand 3-2. In Group A, IR Iran came back from being a goal down to defeat Kuwait 2-1 and take top spot, whilst Laos defeated Yemen 2-1 to claim third .

The Qantas Joeys will now meet IR Iran in the quarter finals on Sunday 30 September with the winner advance to the semi-finals and also qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.

Match Details Qantas Joeys 0 Iraq 0 Iraq won 3-2 on penalties to finish top of Group B PAS Stadium, Tehran, I.R. IRAN Wednesday 26 September 2012

Referee: Kim Jong HYEOK (KOREA, REPUBLIC) Assistant Referees: Ji Seung MIN (KOREA, REPUBLIC) & Huo WEIMING (CHINA P.R.) Fourth Official: Jahanbazi YADOLLAH (I.R. IRAN) Crowd: 150

Qantas Joeys: 12.Jordan THURTELL (gk), 3.Aaron CALVER , 5.James BALDACCHINO (C), 6.Liam ROSE, 7.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (17.Bai ANTONIOU 54-), 11.Alex GERSBACH, 14.Matthew STEWART, 15.Matthew SCHMIDT (4.Jack IREDALE 66-),16.Matthew NTOUMENOPOULOS (21.Jordan PUDLER 56-), 22.Todd NORRIS, 23.Lukas STERGIOU

Substitutes Not Used: 1.Andre JANNESE (gk), 2.Darcy MADDEN, 8.Kevin LY ,9.Joshua MACDONALD ,10.Daniel DE SILVA, 13.Rocco PIZZATA,18.Lucas SPINELLA (gk), 19.Taylor TOMBIDES, 20.Hyuga TANNER

Yellow Cards: Bai Antoniou 73-

Iraq: 22.Hayder Mohammed FAISAL (gk), 2.Alaa ALI MHAWI, 4.Mahdi Abdulzahra Jumaigh AL-KORJI, 6.Mohammed Khazaal LATEEF, 9.Amjed Kareem Khairi AL-SARRAY (10.Ahmed Abdulabbas Fadhil ALDAOOS 65-), 11.Yasir Ammar SAMI, 13.Ali Isam KADHIM, 15.Mohammed Salam Enad AL HRAISHAWI (C), 17.Ahmed Majid HADI, 18.Salman ALI SALMAN (20.Samer Majid Abdulmalek AL-MAHDAWI 71-), 23.Mustafa Mohammed MAAN

Substitutes Not Used: 1.Mohammed Shakir Mahmood AL-TAMEEMI (gk), 3.Ahmed Nadhim OWAID, 7.Sherko Kareem Lateef GUBARI, 8.Sajjad Hussein ABED, 2.Alaa Ahmed QASIM (gk), 14.Bashar Abdulridha MAHDI, 16.Ali Salih Mahdi AL-AQEELI, 19.Hamdullah Sabry HANOON, 21.Ahmed Resen BANI BANI,

Not Eligible: 5. Mustafa Sameer ABDULWAHHAB