JOHANNESBURG - Iraq and New Zealand played out a lively 0-0 draw as both teams said farewell to the Confederations Cup on Saturday having failed to score a goal between them in any of their three Group A games. Iraq, needing a win to have any chance of overhauling South Africa for the runners-up spot to reach the semi-finals behind group winners Spain, were more adventurous than in their opening games but rarely looked like scoring until a late flourish. They were denied what would have been an outstanding goal from Karrar Jasim when his shot bounced off goalkeeper Glen Moss's head and away to safety in stoppage time. New Zealand, already eliminated after losing their first two games, had several first-half chances but faded after the break, though they did earn their first point in a Confederations Cup after losing all their previous six matches, in 1999 and 2003. Striker Chris Killen missed their best chances and could have won the game just before the end but showed woeful control in front of goal with only Iraq keeper Mohamed Kassid to beat. The match ended the short stint of Serbian-born Bora Milutinovic as Iraq's coach with the Asian champions already eliminated from the World Cup qualifying competition. New Zealand still have the chance of returning to South Africa for the 2010 finals if they win a playoff against Bahrain or Saudi Arabia later this year. LIVELY HALF The match was the first between the countries since Iraq beat New Zealand 2-0 and 4-0 in two World Cup qualifiers played in neutral Sydney 36 years ago. The Kiwis had plenty of chances to take the lead and avenge those defeats in an entertaining first half. Their first fell to Killen after 15 minutes but he failed to compose himself properly and blasted high and wide of Kassid's goal when it looked easier to score. Shane Smeltz then had two good attempts within a minute but shot wide when off balance for the first one and glanced a header narrowly wide seconds later. Killen then forced Kassid into a good save with a diving header after 34 minutes but for a team that had to win to have any chance of reaching the last four, Iraq were impotent up front by comparison in the opening half. They did go close to scoring twice in the opening 11 minutes, first when Emad Mohammed headed down into the ground and saw the ball bounce over Moss's bar after eight minutes. Three minutes later Emad and Younis Mahmoud combined with Younis's shot excellently saved but they showed little in front of goal again until near the end when Moss again denied them.
20 June 2009
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