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Iraq vs. Korea Republic: Preview for FIFA U-20 World Cup Quarterfinal

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Iraq vs. Korea Republic: Preview for FIFA U-20 World Cup Quarterfinal
Photo courtesy of fifa.com, © Getty Images

Before the tournament, few would have predicted a quarter-final matchup featuring these two sides, but both have done Asian football proud by progressing this far.

They may have ridden their luck at times, but each side has also shown they are a real force to be reckoned with in the competition, while providing plenty of entertainment along the way.

This game promises to be another cracking encounter. Let's take a look at how the sides match up.

 

U-20 World Cup 2013 Turkey Quarter-final 3 Preview

 

Who: Iraq vs. Korea Republic

Where: Kayseri

When: Sunday, July 7, 6pm local time (11am ET)

 

How They Got to the Quarter-Finals

Iraq

Group Stage: The Iraqis did brilliantly to finish top of a very tough group, with seven points from a possible nine.

They set the tone with a battling display in their first game against England, coming back from 2-0 down to score a late equalizer through Ali Adnan with practically the last kick of the game to earn a point.

Against both Egypt and Chile, Iraq were drawing 1-1 at half time, but they overcame their opponents with second-half strikes to take full points to secure first place in the group.

Round of 16: Farhan Shakor caught the Paraguayan defense napping to sneak in at the far post for a winner four minutes into extra time to once again demonstrate Iraq's never-say-die attitude, in a match where goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed also proved himself a hero.

It was an open, entertaining and sometimes scrappy affair in which both sides showed a willingness to attack. The sending off of Arnaldo Sanabria for Paraguay 10 minutes before the end of regular time may have just given Iraq the slight advantage they needed to seal the win.

 

Korea Republic

Group Stage: The South Koreans sneaked into the knockout phase by finishing third in Group B with four points.

They turned around a 1-0 half-time deficit to down group whipping boys Cuba 2-1, before impressively drawing 2-2 with heavyweights Portugal.

A 1-0 loss to Nigeria in their final group game was not enough to end the Asians' tournament, though a daunting encounter against Colombia loomed in the next round.

Round of 16: In perhaps the biggest upset of the U-20 World Cup so far, Korea Republic downed one of the tournament favorites, Colombia, in a thrilling match in Trabzon.

Song Juhun put the Asian side ahead after 16 minutes when the Colombians failed to clear the ball effectively from a free kick.

The well-organized Korean side looked like they were going to hang on for victory until Colombian star Juan Fernando Quintero curled in a free kick deep into injury time to send the game to extra time.

Nobody could break the deadlock, so the match went to penalties, and it was Korea Republic who won the epic shootout 8-7 to book a spot in the quarter-finals.

 

How they match up

Both teams will be thrilled to have made it this far in the competition, but with the reward of a semi-final spot just 90 minutes away, they won't be resting on their laurels just yet.

Though this may be viewed by some as the weakest of the four quarter-finals, it also promises to be the most entertaining, as Iraq and Korea Republic have showed a willingness to take risks and play attacking football throughout the competition.

For Iraq, goalkeeping captain Hameed has been outstanding, while Humam Tariq has caused headaches for opponents with his dynamic displays. The star man, however, is without doubt Mohannad Abdulraheem, who should prove Iraq's most dangerous attacking threat.

Kim Hyun leads the line with aplomb for South Korea, and the Iraq defense will have to monitor the lanky forward closely. With star man Ryu Seung Woo injured in the last group game, the likes of Kim Hyun and Kim Sunwoo will have to step up and make the difference if the Koreans are to make it past a determined Iraq.

Who will qualify for the semis?

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Prediction

This is an extremely tough one to call. We know both sides are full of attacking intent and fighting spirit, so expect this to be an end-to-end affair that goes down to the wire.

Korea Republic won't make things easy, but Iraq's talismanic goalkeeper Hameed could might just give his side the edge.

Iraq 3 - 2 Korea Republic

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