Muslim nations in the Asian region played with determination and vigour in the AFC Asian Cup hosted by Australia recently. However despite the potential, only four managed to progress to the knockout rounds and none made it into the final.
Iran and UAE dominated Bahrain and Qatar in Group C, whilst Iraq played well to progress from Group D leaving Jordan and Palestine behind. Uzbekistan also progressed from Group B with Saudi Arabia left behind.
Oman and Kuwait suffered heavily in Group A where they were up against Australia and Korea Republic (South Korea), the eventual finalists.
That said Oman’s defensive performance against the formidable Korea Republic attack in the Canberra match was extraordinary, losing only by one goal. However, Australia made them pay heavily with a 4-0 score line.
Of the Muslim nations UAE was the most successful followed by Iraq. UAE lost to Australia 2-0 in the semi-final before defeating Iraq for third place.
Iran, which was considered a favourite by some for the tournament, lost to Iraq in one of most entertaining and exciting matches played out to a full and vibrant Canberra Stadium. The two teams were tied 1-1 at full time and then 3-3 after extra time. The penalty shootout was ultimately won by Iraq. The sometimes very emotional crowd were enthralled and entertained throughout the match.
Iraq was then defeated 2-0 by Korea Republic in the semi-final.
United Arab Emirates striker Ali Mabkhout was awarded the Top Goal Scorer Award after the Al Jazira player scored five goals in six games.