After holding South Africa to an opening draw and losing by a narrow margin against Spain, Iraq will go into their third game against New Zealand with an aim of registering their first win in the tournament to maintain their chances of going through from Group A.
Iraq-New Zealand, 20 June, 20.30 (local time), Johannesburg
The Iraqis pulled off a good result against the hosts in the first game before adopting a defensive stance against the European champions, which led them conceding only one goal against the might of David Villa, Fernando Torres et al. New Zealand have the worst goal difference in the tournament so far - minus-seven - after suffering a 5-0 defeat against Spain before losing 2-0 against South Africa.
Historically, the two teams have met only twice in qualifiers for the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ and Iraq won the two matches in the AFC/OFC qualifiers but they eventually failed to qualify from the group as Australia booked their place in the finals after beating Korea Republic in the play-offs.
Younis Mahmoud-Chris Killen
Younis Mahmoud played a major part in Iraq's successful run in their 2007 AFC Asian Cup title victory, scoring the decisive goal for his side in the final against Saudi Arabia. However, he has struggled to recover his old form since, failing to score in the last six matches with the national team including the previous two matches against South Africa and Spain.
Tall striker Chris Killen has also failed to score for New Zealand in their first two matches in the FIFA Confederations Cup. The striker struggled against the defences of Spain and South Africa and had only three shots over the two games, just one which went on target.
Iraq 4-0 New Zealand, 24 March 1973, 1974 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Sydney
After winning the sides' previous encounter 2-0, Iraq repeated their win with a bigger margin thanks to a hat-trick from their striker Sabah Hattem, who had also been on target in the first meeting.
0 - New Zealand and Iraq are the only teams that have still not scored after their first two matches. In FIFA Confederations Cup history, only two teams have not scored in all three group matches: Canada in 2001 and Greece in 2005.
Did you know?
Among the 11 Iraqi players abroad, only one is on the books of a European side: Hawar Mulla Mohamed, who played in Cyprus last season for Anorthosis Famagusta. On the other side, ten of New Zealand's squad play with local clubs, although the majority turn out for Wellington Phoenix, making the Australian A-League outfit the tournament's best-represented club.
"We wanted to get a good result against Spain and we managed to avoid defeat with a big margin, which might help us to qualify from the group. We are looking forward to have a big win against New Zealand to get to four points and we could go through if Spain won against South Africa," Iraq coach Bora Milutinovic.
"We are going to do things differently before Iraq as we need everyone back to their best to compete with the Asian champions. I will be making changes. Statistically, we don’t get a lot of playing time, so it’s a massive opportunity for us to learn some lessons about different players and their reactions," New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert.
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