A Ayman Hussein header brought UAE’s hopes of of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup to an end as Iraq concluded their qualification campaign with a 1-0 win at the Amman International Stadium on Tuesday.
While Australia’s 2-1 win over Thailand earlier in the day ruled out any chance of the UAE taking Group B’s remaining automatic place at Russia 2018, the Emirates could still have clinched third place and a play-off spot with a big win over already eliminated Iraq, and a heavy Saudi Arabia defeat to Japan, but their plans were complicated by Hussein's goal in the 29th minute.
The striker rose above his marker and finished off a cross from Waleed Salim to give the Lions of Mesopotamia the lead inside the opening half hour.
UAE were a depleted side without a number of regular starters through suspension and injury, including stars Omar Abdulrahman and Ali Mabkhout, and failed to break down a stubborn Iraqi defence.
Iraq finished fifth in Group B with 11 points, two behind the UAE who are in fourth place.
Japan won the group with 20 points, followed closely by Saudi Arabia and Australia with 19 points each in second and third place respectively.