Iraq player names two reasons to beat Vietnam in World Cup second qualifiers clash

By Trung Thu   June 9, 2024 | 05:30 pm PT
Although Iraq have already secured the top spot in Group F and advanced to the 2026 World Cup third qualifiers, they still aim to defeat Vietnam in the final match to improve their FIFA ranking and please the home fans.
Aymen Hussein (số 18) mừng bàn mở tỷ số trong trận thắng Indonesia 2-0 ở lượt năm bảng F vòng loại hai World Cup 2026. Ảnh: IFA

Aymen Hussein (number 18) celebrates after scoring in Iraq's 2-0 victory over Indonesia in the World Cup qualifier on June 6, 2024. Photo by IFA

Iraq are one of the four teams with a perfect record in the first five games of the 2026 World Cup second qualifiers in Asia, alongside Japan in Group B, the UAE in Group H, and Australia in Group I. After defeating Indonesia on Thursday, Iraq players affirmed they would maintain the highest focus and determination against Vietnam in the final match this Wednesday.

"Beating Vietnam is not our only goal," shared striker Aymen Hussein with Iraq's Winwin newspaper on Saturday. "We also want to improve our position on the FIFA rankings."

Iraq previously gained approximately 5.71 points after defeating Indonesia and will gain around 6.9 additional points if they beat Vietnam. However, if they draw or lose, Iraq will be deducted 5.6 or 18.1 points respectively, which is not desirable for the players.

Apart from this goal, coach Jesus Casas and striker Ali Jasim do not want to disappoint the fans when hosting Vietnam at Basra Stadium – considered the holy ground of Iraqi football.

"We are very happy to see our fans again and hope they continue to support us," said Casas. "The best way to bring joy to the fans is by beating Vietnam."

Iraq were forced to play on neutral grounds as a result of 20 years of war and instability in the country. Their first game on home turf is the 5-1 victory over Indonesia in the 2026 World Cup second qualifiers on November 17, 2023, followed by a 1-0 win against the Philippines in March 2024. In both matches, Basra Stadium, with a capacity of about 65,000 seats, was full of fiery fans.

Midfielder Amir Al-Ammari credits Iraq’s additional confidence to the victory over Indonesia - a tough opponent with many players competing in Europe - at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium, which was jam-packed with Indonesian fans and had a hot and humid climate. "Every Iraq player, whether starting or on the bench, wants to give their all," said Al-Ammari, Winwin reported.

Even though they have advanced to the third qualifiers, how Iraq intend to play the match still affects the race for the remaining spot in Group F between Indonesia, who are second with seven points, and Vietnam with one point less. Vietnam will advance if they beat Iraq and Indonesia do not beat the Philippines. If Indonesia lose to the Philippines, Vietnam only need a draw against Iraq. If Indonesia win, Vietnam will be out of the running.

Indonesia face the Philippines at 7:30 p.m. local time on June 11, while Iraq will meet Vietnam later at 9:00 p.m. local time, which is 01:00 a.m. Hanoi time on June 12.

Iraq are unbeaten against Vietnam in six encounters with five wins. The two most recent victories were the 1-0 win in the 2026 World Cup second qualifiers in November 2023 and the 3-2 win in the group stage of the 2023 Asian Cup in January 2024. The only draw between the two teams, a 1-1 tie, occurred in the 2018 World Cup second qualifiers in October 2015.

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