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Saudis out to bury qualification demons Brazil crush Iraq 6-0 in friendly

MALMO, Sweden, Oct 12, (Agencies): Kaka scored on his return to international football after an absence of more than two years, leading Brazil to a 6-0 win over Iraq in an international friendly Thursday in Sweden. The Real Madrid midfielder, who last played an international when Brazil was beaten in the quarterfinals at the 2010 World Cup by the Netherlands, added the third goal in the 47th minute at Swebank Stadium. Chelsea playmaker Oscar scored twice and there were also goals from Hulk, Neymar and Lucas.

“We did well. We scored six goals, that says it all,” Brazil coach Mano Menezes said, adding that Iraq goalkeeper Noor Sabri “was one of the best players tonight, he made some fabulous saves.” Oscar scored in the 21st minute after a lovely through ball from Neymar and then made it 2-0 five minutes later.
Goals in the 59th from Hulk, 75th from Neymar and 79th from Lucas completed the emphatic victory.

Iraq rarely threatened, with only Younis Mahmood twice going close in the second half and Humadi Ahmad causing concern for goalkeeper Diego Alves in added time. Zico, the Brazilian great who is now Iraq’s coach, substituted five players in the second half in an attempt to lift his team. But his decision to remove the experienced Mahmoud surprised the largely Iraq-supporting crowd.

“If we had lost 6-0 to Iceland I would have been worried, but losing to Brazil was not a problem,” Zico said. The sound of drums — not samba, but Arabic — dominated the stadium in Sweden’s third largest city. More than 14,000 tickets were sold for a friendly that was mostly attended by Iraqis living in the Scandinavian country. Malmo is one of its most ethnically diverse cities, with 40 percent of residents being first- or second-generation immigrants. It was the first meeting between five-time world champion Brazil and Iraq, the 2007 Asian Nations Cup winner. Brazil, which isn’t playing qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup because it will host the tournament, plays Japan in Poland on Tuesday.

Desperate to regain their seat at the top of Asian soccer, Saudi Arabia say they will be taking nothing for granted as they switch their focus from the World Cup to the AFC Asian Cup.
Eliminated early from qualification for Brazil 2014, the Saudis have now been grouped with Iraq, China and Indonesia for qualification for the 2015 Asian Cup, to be held in Australia. “Our group is not that much easy, but at the same time it is not completely difficult,” Saudi coach Frank Rijkaard said.
Expanding on the riddle, the former Barcelona coach added: “We are looking to take a ticket for the finals from this group, as we want to regain our place in the elite of Asian football.”

Saudi Arabia Football Federation’s national team committee chairman Muhammed Al Meshel hopes these qualifiers will provide an opportunity to put right errors in committed in the latest World Cup qualifying campaign. Saudi will miss out on Brazil 2014, after exiting qualifying after the third round with only one win — over Thailand — in six matches.

“Our group is very difficult as we will face teams like Iraq and China, but we want to regain what we lost after our exit from the World Cup third qualifying round,” Al Meshel told the Asian Football Confederation website. “The most important lesson we learnt from World Cup qualifying is not to underestimate any group, and I re-confirm that our group is the strongest.” The West Asians will host China in their Asian Cup qualifying opening match on Feb 6, 2013.


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