Iraq manager Dick Advocaat said his side’s draw against the UAE in Dubai on Tuesday was a fair result, but the Dutchman would not be drawn on how it impacted their chances of World Cup qualification.
Iraq headed into the match at the Zabeel Stadium without having scored thus far in three games in the final round, and thought they had a first victory when they made it 2-1 in the final minute.
However, the UAE rallied in injury time to gain a point, before almost snatching a come-from-behind win only for the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to rule that Khalfan Mubarak’s 95th-minute shot had not crossed the line.
The 2-2 draw leaves Iraq fifth in Group A, level on three points with fourth-placed UAE and two behind Lebanon in third. Only the top two teams – currently Iran (10 points) and South Korea (eight) - qualify automatically for Qatar 2022, with third then going into a sequence of play-offs to make the finals. Iraq have only once previously appeared at a World Cup, in 1986.
Asked about sharing the points on Tuesday, Advocaat said: “It is a fair result, to be fair. But if you have a 2-1 lead two minutes before the end then you hope you can stay with the 2-1. Unfortunately, we gave away too easy the 2-2, but chances-wise the UAE deserve it.”
Like the UAE, Iraq remain winless from four matches. Last week, Advocaat’s men were held to a goalless draw against Lebanon in Qatar – to this point, they have played their home fixtures at neutral venues – where they were left to rue a number of missed opportunities.
On how Tuesday’s result affects Iraq’s World Cup chances, Advocaat said: “We have to see game by game. Today the 2-2 draw was fair, but the first game last week we had to win given the chances we created. But that’s the way it goes. One game you deserve to win, in another game you don’t get what you deserve.”
However, unlike UAE manager and compatriot Bert van Marwijk, Advocaat did not see any reason to question the late VAR call.
“I think the VAR can see it really well,” he said. “And they decided not to give a goal.”