Iraq vs Indonesia
The odds are stacked against Indonesia in their 2026 World Cup qualifying Group F opener against Iraq at the Basra International Stadium for a reason.
The Iraqi people have forgotten the feeling of supporting their team at the World Cup finals, considering Iraq’s last appearance in the tournament dates back to 1986. But they’ve been knocking on the door for quite a while now, reaching the third qualifying stage in their last three campaigns, only to fall three points short of the inter-confederation playoff spot in the ‘2022’ cycle. Improving home form is instrumental, as Iraq only won on their five round-three home outings in that campaign (D2, L2), averaging a meager 0.4 goals per game. With that in mind, Indonesia’s visit to Basra comes in handy, with the ‘Lions of Mesopotamia’ running out victors in three of their four all-time H2Hs (D1), including a 2-0 win in their last meeting in 2013.
Unlike their hosts, Indonesia cannot forget about their last World Cup qualifying campaign soon enough as they lost seven of their eight round-two fixtures (D1) by a combined score of 27-5! They’ve at least secured a chance to redeem themselves by beating minnows Brunei in both legs of their qualifying playoff tie via an identical 6-0 scoreline. Those results have bookended Indonesia’s three-game winning streak ‘to nil’ ahead of this trip. Defensive solidity has been their strong suit lately, as witnessed by an impressive run of four clean sheets across their last five internationals. Against this backdrop, ‘Team Garuda’ conceded 2+ goals in all four 2022 World Cup qualifiers away from home, allowing a total of 13!