Amman: Iraq and Bahrain played out a 0-0 draw at Amman International Stadium in a Round 2 Group 'C' match of the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 and 2023 AFC Asian Cup China Asian Qualifiers yesterday.
Having defeated Iran at the same ground on Thursday, Iraq knew a draw would be enough for them to end the year as Group 'C' leaders, while Bahrain needed victory to leap above their hosts.
A quiet first half saw the bulk of possession kept around the middle of the park, with chances few and far between for either side.
Sayed Saeed was Bahrain’s biggest threat, repeatedly stretching the pitch down the right flank. The winger came close on one such occasion halfway through the opening period, but his ball into the six-yard box was hoofed away by Iraq captain Ahmed Ibrahim.
At the other end of the pitch it was Ibrahim Bayesh who had the best sight of goal in the 36th minute after exchanging passes with Durgham Ismael down the left.
Bayesh then cut on his right and looked to fire into the near bottom corner, but his ball hit the side netting as the half ended goalless.
Bashar Resan tested Sayed Abbas from the edge of the box 20 minutes after the restart, but the Bahraini goalkeeper stood his ground and made the save.
Substitute Ali Abbas, who replaced Resan with 15 minutes to go, had a golden chance to snatch victory for the Lions of Mesopotamia at the death, but the forward could not direct his towering header right and it ended in the goalkeeper’s arms.
The result means Iraq go into 2020 as group leaders with 11 points from five matches, two ahead of Bahrain. Iraq travel to Hong Kong on March 31 next year, while Bahrain welcome Cambodia to Manama five days earlier.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals and the final round of qualifying for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022.
The next best 24 teams from the second round of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup China 2023.