ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq came from behind twice to earn a 3-2 win against Vietnam in the opening match of their 2019 Asian Cup campaign on Tuesday at the Zayed Sports City stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Vietnam took the lead after 24 minutes after Iraqi defender Ali Faez Atiyah directed the ball into his own net.
Iraq responded through striker Mohanad Kadhim in the 35th minute before Cong Phuong Nguyen put Vietnam ahead seven minutes later to give his team a 2-1 half-time lead.
After a shaky start, Iraq took charge in the second half and found the equalizer in the 60th minute through substitute Humam Tariq. With one minute remaining, the Iraqis stunned Vietnam with a late winner from an Ali Adnan free kick.
Iraq’s next match is against Yemen on Jan. 12 at 4:30 p.m. Erbil time before they take on rivals Iran four days later.
The 2019 Asian Cup began on Jan. 5 and will continue until Feb. 1.
For the first time, Asia’s largest continental tournament includes 24 teams instead of the traditional 16-team format used in previous competitions.
Iraq’s most notable triumph at the international level came in 2007 when they were crowned Asian Cup champions, beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final.
Iraq is 88th in FIFA’s world rankings (their highest ever rank was 39 in 2004).
They have failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup since their maiden appearance at the Mexico 1986 tournament where they lost all three of their group matches.