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Aussies' Olympic hopes frustrated by Iraqi 'keeper
Australia's bid to make next year's London Olympics suffered another setback when they were held to a goalless draw by Iraq in a Group C Asian qualifying match here on Tuesday.
The Olyroos, who drew their opening match against the UAE in September, were forced to share the points yet again, thanks to the efforts of Iraqi goalkeeper Jalal Hassan who displayed tremendous alertness and anticipation.
Hassan saved all four Australian chances to help his team gain their first point following their 2-0 loss to Uzbekistan earlier in the campaign.
The Iraqis matched the Australians man for man, except for occasional defensive errors that on another day could have spelt disaster for them.
After the initial burst of Iraqi aggression that saw the rival defence under pressure on a couple of occasions, the Australians managed to get their act together in midfield, pushing forward in search of their first goal.
They were presented with two golden chances in a space of a few seconds, but James Brown found Hassan equal to the task.
Brown dribbled past the last Iraqi defender in the 39th minute, but his shot from six yards was blocked by Hassan.
The ball came back to Brown, but he couldn't believe his eyes as his second shot too was deflected by the alert goalkeeper.
The Aussies kept on attacking and were presented with another opportunity a minute later but Sebastian Ryall?s header off a chip from 25 yards was grabbed by Hassan.
Iraq managed to keep the Aussies at bay in the second half too, but once again had Hassan to thank.
He tipped a thundering shot by Marko Jessic over the bar in the 57th minute and later cleared the ball from the penalty area on a couple of occasions to prevent his team from suffering their second successive defeat in qualifying and breathing new life into their campaign.
Australia next play Uzbekistan at home on Sunday, while the UAE meet Iraq.
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