The Agony of Doha

This day in football history


On 28 October 1993, a late Iraqi goal denied Japan its first World Cup appearance in a match Japanese supporters call “the Agony of Doha.”

The two teams met on the final day of Asian Football Confederation qualification for the 1994 World Cup. With four of its five matches already played, Japan was at the top of the group with 5 points and Iraq was three places back on 4 points. A win would have sent Japan through to the World Cup, while the Iraqis needed both a win and favorable results in the day’s two other matches.

Playing before a crowd of 15,000 at the Al-Ahly Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Japan took a quick lead thanks to forward Kazuyoshi Miura’s 5th-minute strike. The two sides then exchanged second-half goals, with forward Ahmad Radhi equalizing for Iraq in the 54th minute, followed by an 80th-minute goal from Japanese forward Masashi Nakayama to restore the Blue Samurai’s advantage.

In the 90th minute, as the Japanese supporters began making their World Cup plans, substitute Jaffar Salman headed a cross past Japanese keeper Shigetatsu Matsunaga. The match ended 2–2, eliminating both Iraq and Japan from the tournament.

Saudi Arabia won the group, while Japanese arch-rivals South Korea took the second and final qualification spot.