AFC U23 Championships

Iraq Edge Out Indonesia to Claim AFC U-23s Bronze

Iraq U-23 secured their sixth qualification for the Olympic Games after a thrilling 2-1 victory over Indonesia U-23 in the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup third-place playoff on Thursday night. Ali Jasim’s decisive goal in extra time sealed Iraq’s comeback, earning them the final automatic qualifying slot for Paris 2024.

In a tense match at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Indonesia took the lead in the 19th minute through Ivar Jenner’s strike from long range. However, Iraq responded quickly, with Zaid Tahseen equalizing from close range after Nihad Mohammed’s assist from a corner.

Throughout the game, both teams had opportunities to score, with Nihad coming close for Iraq and Hussein Hasan making crucial saves for the Iraqis, denying both Witan Sulaeman and Jeam Kelly Stroyer in the second half.

Having impressed many during their fairytale run to the semifinals, Indonesia looked off-color having already set the targets imposed on them by both Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI) president Erick Thohir and head coach Shin Tae-yong, with players often showing individual mistakes and being generally selfish on the ball, opting to shoot on sight rather than pass to an available teammate once they had arrived in the six-yard box. However, despite this, the Garuda Muda remained competitive to the end thanks to impressive performances from goalkeeper Ernando Ari and Nathan Tjoe-A-On, with the midfielder using his versatility very well to bail out his teammates at the most crucial of moments.

The match remained deadlocked until extra time when Ali Jasim capitalized on a precise through ball from Muntadher Mohammed, beating the Indonesian offside trap to score the winning goal, securing Iraq’s place at the Olympics.

For Indonesia, the defeat was heartbreaking, but they still have a chance to qualify for Paris 2024. They will face Guinea in a winner-takes-all intercontinental playoff, with the hopes of joining Japan, Uzbekistan, and Iraq as representatives from the AFC in the Olympic Games.