Paul Okon's men bowed out at the semi-final stage, but will have some consolation in their qualification to the 2013 Fifa Under-20 World Cup
|By SACHA PISANI
The Young Socceroos' AFC Under-19 Championship campaign in the United Arab Emirates came to an end on Wednesday, after they suffered a 2-0 defeat in their semi-final showdown with Iraq.
Having already secured a spot at the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey courtesy of Corey Gameiro's hat-trick against Jordan in the quarter-finals, Paul Okon's side went into the game full of confidence but were made to pay for costly errors.
Fulham striker Gameiro, who attracted plenty of admirers with six goals in four matches, had the chance to put Australia ahead, but his 51st-minute penalty was pushed away to safety by Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed.
Iraq made the most of Australia's penalty miss, with Mohanad Abdulraheem breaking the deadlock just eight minutes later.
The striker was on hand to score the opening goal after Ali Adnan, who gave away the earlier penalty, whipped in a delightful cross.
Australia had netted six goals in four games, all off the boot of FC Eindhoven striker Gameiro, but they were unable to create any clear-cut chances at the Emirates Stadium.
As the Young Socceroos went in search of an elusive equaliser, Iraq secured their passage into the final with five minutes remaining.
Abdulraheem played through substitute Jawad Khadim on goal, who then rounded goalkeeper Paul Izzo for Iraq's second goal of the game.
A disappointed Okon was left to rue the team's errors that cost them a spot in Saturday's final.
"We are disappointed with the result because we made some individual mistakes and gifted Iraq two goals," said Okon.
"We should have scored the goal when we got penalty and go 1-0 in front.
"Who knows, with little bit of fortune we could have won the competition.
"We like to build-up and see how it goes but Iraq were looking to get a result from the very beginning.
"Congratulations to Iraq, they are very good team and I am sure that the final will be entertaining game."
Iraq will face 11-time champions Korea Republic in final at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.