We are capable of beating England, says Iraq goalkeeper Ali Ibadi

Kolkata, Oct 13 (IANS) Iraq goalkeeper Ali Ibadi on Friday expressed confidence in his team’s ability to beat England and top Group F in Saturday’s FIFA U-17 World Cup humdinger at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan here.

“We have the potential to beat England. We want to win the game and top the group,” Ibadi told reporters on the sidelines of their training session on the eve of the game.

Iraq have four points from two games with a win over Mexico, their first in the competition, and a 1-1 draw against Chile.

The Asian U-16 champions are second in Group F behind England who have six points from two matches.

Qahtan Chitheer’s side have sealed a knockout berth as they will at least finish third and four third-placed teams will go through from six groups.

If Iraq win on Saturday, they will top the group with seven points.

“We have been a surprise package so far. Our country is proud of us and we are ready for the battle. We have trained hard,” the goalkeeper, who plays for Air Force Athletic Club in Iraq, added.

Iraq have only one FIFA U-17 World Cup appearance to their name, at UAE 2013.

That experience was not particularly memorable as they finished last in Group F. Iraq lost all three of their matches, against Sweden, Mexico and Nigeria, the teams that eventually claimed first, second and third place in the tournament.

Iraq emerged victorious from the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship, defeating Iran in the final to become Asian champions for the first time. After finishing second in Group C, they saw off the challenge of Uzbekistan (2-0) in the quarter-finals, booking their berth at India 2017 in the process.

In the last four, the young Iraqis eliminated Japan, prior to getting the better of Iran on penalties after the showpiece match had ended 0-0.

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