King's Cup 2023: India VS Iraq
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King’s Cup 2023 Semi-Final: India’s Heartbreaking Penalty Shootout Loss To 10-Man Iraq. In a thrilling King’s Cup semi-final, Iraq faced India and emerged victorious in a hard-fought penalty shootout. India, on two separate occasions during the match, managed to take the lead, but Iraq, in turn, equalized both times from the penalty spot. The game underwent a dramatic twist when Iraq’s Zidane Iqbal received a straight red card in the dying moments, reducing them to 10 players.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Iraq maintained their resilience and ultimately secured victory in the penalty shootout, clinching a 5-4 win. The shootout showcased remarkable penalties from both teams, with even Brandon Fernandes of India missing, as his shot struck the inside of the post.

Iraq’s triumph earned them a place in the King’s Cup final, where they would square off against the winner of the Lebanon vs. Thailand match. Meanwhile, India would contend in the third-place match, concluding an electrifying and closely contested semi-final encounter.

In the King’s Cup 2022, Tajikistan emerged as the champions. Malaysia secured the runner-up position, with Thailand taking third place.

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Basic Details Of King’s Cup 2023

Tournament ParticipantsVenueMatch Rules
ThailandChiang Mai Stadium– 90 minutes of regular play
India– Penalty shoot-out after a draw in 90 mins
Lebanon– Maximum of five substitutions

India vs. Iraq in King’s Cup 2023 Highlights

India Strikes First

In regulation time, a fantastic counter by India surprised everyone and opened the scoring. Despite Iraq’s domination of possession, India’s well-organized press kept them at bay. It happened in the 17th minute when Sahal Abdul Samad executed a remarkable play down the left flank, creating an opportunity for Mahesh Singh, who had initially started as the right winger. Mahesh displayed finesse with a delicate touch and a neat finish at the near post, breaking the deadlock for India. This goal exemplified the team’s ability to strike swiftly and efficiently. With Sunil Chhetri absent, as he stayed home for the birth of his child, Manvir Singh led the line and played a pivotal role in the goal’s creation.

Iraq’s Response

Iraq responded swiftly, equalizing just ten minutes later. The referee penalized Sandesh Jhingan for a handball inside the box following a long-distance shot from left-winger Bashar Bonyan. Forward Ali Karim displayed confidence as he stepped up and successfully converted the penalty, effectively putting Iraq back in the game. The first half concluded in a fiercely contested midfield battle, with both teams vying for control.

Tactical Shifts at Half-Time

To inject more dynamism into their attack, Javi Garcia, the coach of Iraq, initiated three changes at half-time. He introduced Amin Alhamawi, the towering center-forward Aymen Ghabhban, and former Manchester United prospect Zidane Iqbal. This tactical shift transformed Iraq’s style of play, emphasizing lofted balls into the box. India initially grappled with this alteration but, once again, capitalized on a counter-attack.

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India’s Second Goal

In the 51st minute, Samad sent a long ball into space down the right flank, where Manvir Singh discovered an overlapping Akash Mishra. The left-back dared to explore the unfamiliar territory of the right-wing and delivered a cross that ought to have been routine for Iraq’s goalkeeper and captain, Jalal Hasan. Nevertheless, Hasan committed a shocking blunder, allowing the ball to slip through his grasp and into his net. This unforeseen turn of events momentarily left Iraq stunned, causing their forward momentum to wane.

Iraq’s Fightback

Once Iraq regained its composure and began delivering precise crosses into the box, they exerted pressure on India. A tussle between Jhingan and Ghadbhan inside the six-yard box resulted in another penalty, which Ghadbhan confidently converted himself. The match took another unexpected turn when Zidane Iqbal received a red card for deliberately elbowing Brandon Fernandes, an action fueled by his frustration over limited involvement in the game.

The Dramatic Penalty Shootout

The match eventually proceeded to penalties. Brandon Fernandes missed his first attempt, setting the stage for a tense shootout. However, the following penalties were executed flawlessly, with Salih, Jhingan, Gurpreet, Suresh, Ghadhban, Anwar, Alhamawi, Rahim, and Bonyan all finding the back of the net. Iraq emerged victorious with a 5-4 scoreline in the penalty shootout, concluding a thrilling and closely contested semi-final encounter in the King’s Cup 2023.