Australia will face host nation Iran in the quarter-finals at the AFC U-16 Championship 2012 after a losing a penalty shootout to Iraq in its final group encounter.
The Joeys drew 0-0 with Iraq in Tehran but with both sides on the same number of points, goals scored and goals conceded after their earleir two group matches, spot kicks were required to separate them - with Australia going down 3-2.
"This was an important game and an important exercise for both teams. Both teams have given their players valuable international exposure," Joeys coach Alistair Edwards told the-afc.com.
"The game was played in very good spirits. They played very well and I thought we finished the match very strongly so we are quite pleased with the performance overall.
"Congratulations to Iraq. They played good football in the way the game should be played and I wish them all the best for the quarter-finals.
Australia will face Group A table-topper Iran on Sunday (local time) while Iraq plays Kuwait with a semi-final spot and a place at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
Edwards handed tournament debuts to goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell, defender Matthew Schmidt and midfielder Matthew Ntoumenopoulos for the Iraq game with both sides well aware of what was at stake.
"With an eye on having players fresh for the quarter final we made eight changes from the starting XI's of the previous two games against Thailand and Oman, the Iraqi's rested six starting players," Edwards said.
"Bai Antonio and Jordan Pudler made their international debuts and did very well when they came on in the second half.
With the deadlock unable to be broken it was down to penalties with Australia up first.
:: Australia substitute Jack Iredale scored
:: Iraq substitute Ahmed Abdulabbas Fadhil Aldaoos scored
:: Australia captain James Baldacchino missed, his shot hitting the bar
:: Iraq substitute Samer AL-Mahdawi scored
:: Australia substitute Bai Antoiniou missed, his shot hitting the left hand post
:: Iraq midfielder Ali Isam Kadhim missed, his shot wide of the left hand post
:: Australia substitute Jordan Pudler missed, shot saved
:: Iraq's Yasi Sami missed, shot saved
:: Australia's Todd Norris scored
:: Iraq's Mahdi Al-Korji scored
"We have gone through the groups stages undefeated and today we kept another clean sheet, the only goal we have conceded so far in the tournament being a penalty," Edwards said.
"The first two games and the latter stages of today's game have been excellent in terms of performance and we are all very much looking forward to what will be an exciting quarter final game against Iran."
Australia line-up against Iraq: 12.Jordan THURTELL (gk), 3.Aaron CALVER , 5.James BALDACCHINO (C), 6.Liam ROSE, 7.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (17.Bai ANTONIOU 54’), 11.Alex GERSBACH, 14.Matthew STEWART, 15.Matthew SCHMIDT (4.Jack IREDALE 66’),16.Matthew NTOUMENOPOULOS (21.Jordan PUDLER 56’), 22.Todd NORRIS, 23.Lukas STERGIOU.
In the other group B match, Oman defeated Thailand 3-2 while in Group A, Iran beat Kuwait 2-1 and Laos accounted for Yemen by the same score.
John Boultbee is set to relinquish his role as Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) Head of National Teams to take up a role as honorary head of World Rowing (FISA).