Friday, October 22, 2004

Iraqi League finally kicks off in Baghdad

Baghdad, Reuters, By Mussab Al-Khairalla

Iraq's domestic soccer league kicked off Wednesday for the first time since American-led forces invaded the country to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.

The opening fixture resulted in a 5-1 victory for al-Shurta, which means 'The Police' in Arabic, against Naft-ul-Junoob at a small stadium in one of the most dangerous areas of Baghdad.

With three government ministries and the police academy close by -- all regular targets for insurgents firing mortars -- security was visibly stepped up before kickoff and all of the approximately 100 fans were body-searched.

Last year, the Iraqi soccer association attempted to revive the league, but crowd trouble and a lack of resources meant it was swiftly canceled.

The relaunch of the league is a major boost for Iraqi sport, long crippled by security fears and a lack of funding.

Soccer -- Iraq's most popular sport -- will bring a welcome relief to many Iraqis trying to escape the bombs and shootings that have taken such a heavy toll on the country since the fall of Saddam.

"We are trying to make our country feel normal again. We insisted that the championship couldn't be delayed any further," said Basim al-Rubaie, vice-president of the Iraqi FA.

The start of the league follows closely on from Iraq's superb showing at the Athens Olympics when they reached the semi-finals of the soccer tournament, narrowly missing a medal.

"I've been waiting for this championship for such a long time," said Hasan Kathim. "Now I can watch my team play and take my mind off Iraq's troubles, even if it's only for 90 minutes."

Source: Reuters

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Iraqi League kicks off tonight

Johannesburg, by Maithem Al Anbari
Iraqi Football League resumes todaay fter being stopped for more than a year. Today, tomorrow and after tomorrow Iraqis will watch their favourite teams competing in the first football league after the war.

Despite all the problems the war-torn country is going through and the threats of attacking any of the stadiums by insurgents, Iraqi clubs will try to show some talents on the fields.

Thirty two clubs representing different parts of Iraq participate in this league. Kick off match between Naft Al Janoub (South Oil Company) Club and Al Shurta (Police) Club due to start today afternoon.

The remaining matches for the first round will be:

Thursday 21 Oct 2004:
El Quwa El Jawiya -- : -- Zakho
Pers -- : -- El Sulaimaniya
El Mosul -- : -- Kirkuk
Duhok -- : -- Sirwan
El Sina'a -- : -- El Istiqlal
El Zawraa -- : -- El Kadhimiya
El Jaish -- : -- Babil
El Shu'la -- : -- Karbalaa

Friday 22 Oct 2004:
Salladdine -- : -- Dyala
Balad -- : -- El Naft
El Kahrabaa -- : -- Samarra
El Karkh -- : -- El Talaba
Misan -- : -- El Kut
El Minaa -- : -- El Diwaniya
El Nasiriya -- : -- El Basra

Saturday, October 09, 2004

64 medals for Iraq

Johannesburg, by Maithem Al Anbari

Obtaining 64 medals, Iraq's delegation to the 10th Pan-Arab Games in Algeria proved that it came to achieve something and not just for a symbolic participation.

The final list of the Arab teams showed that Iraq obtained 7th position after winning 12 gold, 19 silver and 33 bronze medals. According to the Pan-Arab statistics, this participation is considered the most fruitful for Iraq despite all the difficulties that this war-torn country is going through.

The list was topped by Egypt with 170 medals. Second position was for the host country Algeria with 229. Tunisia became third with 142, Syria took the fourth place with 83, Morocco came as fifth after winning 97; KSA achieved 54 medals (male participation)and obtained the sixth place.

Jordan, the host of the previous Pan-Arab Games grapped 8th position with 99 medals. The other teams were UAE with 19 medals, Yemen got 9 and Lybia had 10.

The Pan-Arab Game closing ceremony were on October 6th. The next tournament will be held in Lybia in 2008.

End of Iraq's dream

Johannesburg, by Maithem Al Anbari

The exit of Iraq’s hard-tackling centreback Ali Hussein Rahima led to the downfall of the former champions in their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Youth Championship quarter-final match against Syria at the Perak Stadium on Sunday.

Ali was sacked in the 35th minute for an off-the-ball incident on Syria’s Majed Al Haj. Incidentally, Majed, who had Ali close on his heels from the kick off, went on to score the solitary goal of the match in the 74th minute.

It was the first goal four-time champions Iraq had conceded in the tournament and with it ended their dreams of getting among the four Asian sides to qualify for the Youth World Cup Finals in Amsterdam next year.

A dejected Iraqi coach Hadi Mutnash said: “It is very negative to lose a key defender so soon into the game. It affected our play as most of the players didn’t feel comfortable and suffered a drop in confidence after Ali’s exit,” he said.

But Hadi conceded that Syria were the better organised side.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Iraq to last eight

Johannesburg, by Maithem AlAnbari

Iraq performed another impressive performance and beat Yemeni counterpart 2-0. Iraq had already booked their place in the knockout stage of the AFC Youth Championship 2004 after scoring their second straight win in Group D with a 2-0 victory over Thailand at the Perak Stadium on Tuesday. Iraq due to meet Syria in the quarter final stage tomorrow.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Iraq stun champions Korea

Ipoh, Malaysia, Footballasia

Iraq announced their challenge at the AFC Youth Championship 2004 with a 3-0 thumping of reigning champions Korea Republic in their opening Group D match on Sunday.

Thailand also got off to a winning start in the group with a 2-1 win over Yemen in Sundayâ??s other Group D fixture.

Heavy rain in Ipoh made playing conditions at the Perak Stadium difficult but Iraq adapted better and went ahead three minutes before the break through Mouslim Almas.

Almas added his second of the game in the 84th minute before substitute Farid Ghadban rounded out the scoring in injury time.

"It's a very good thing for us to get three points from our opening game especially against a strong team like Korea," said Iraq coach Hadi Mutanish. "It was an important win and will give us a good push for our upcoming games against Thailand and Yemen."

Meanwhile, talented young Thai striker Teeratep Winothai scored a brace to lift his side to victory against Yemen.

The former Crystal Palace youth player put the ASEAN side ahead after just three minutes and netted his second from the penalty spot in the 39th minute, just two minutes after Yemen skipper Abdo Al Edresi had equalised.

Source: Footballasia

Iraq and Uzbekistan to meet in Amman


Next month’s crucial World Cup 2006 qualifier between Iraq and Uzbekistan is to be played in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

The top two sides in Group 2 are to meet on October 13 in a game that is likely to decide the team that will advance to the next round of the World Cup qualifying tournament. Given the tenuous security situation in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, all of Iraq’s home games have been scheduled to be played outside the country but the match originally slated for Doha, Qatar will now be played instead in Jordan.

The two teams drew 1-1 in Tashkent earlier this year but Uzbekistan currently lead the group by two points after winning their subsequent three matches with 3-0 wins at home and away against Palestine, and a 1-0 victory at Chinese Taipei.

Iraq scored a pair of big wins against Chinese Taipei but were held to a 1-1 draw by Palestine in Doha early in their campaign.

Iraq and Uzbekistan also met in Chengdu during the Asian Cup 2004 in July with the Uzbeks winning 1-0 although both teams progressed to the quarter-finals.

Only the top team in the group will progress to the final round of qualifiers so the outcome of the game on October 13 should prove especially important for both teams. A draw might prove enough for the Uzbeks to claim top spot with only a home match against minnows Chinese Taipei to come.

Source: Footballasia

Iraqi grassroots game gets helping hand


The British government is to lend a helping hand to the Iraq Football Association as they look to rebuild grassroots football in their war-torn nation.

Working together with the English and Iraqi FAs, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw launched the 'Football United' inititive on Wednesday which will provide training courses and local tournaments for budding Iraqi footballers.

'Football is by far the most popular sport in Iraq,' said Straw in a statement. 'This is a wonderful opportunity to assist with the development of youth football in Iraq and to lay the foundation for continued and stronger ties between the British and Iraqi sporting communities.”
According to Reuters, four Iraqi coaches have completed the English FA's international coaching course, which should be of great benefit to talented young players in the Middle Eastern nation.


Song & Goals

Among the sorrow and sadness of Iraqis due to the occupation, insurgency and terrorism, Iraq's Olympic team headed to Athens to tell the whole world that Iraq is here...

This song is a present to Iraq's Olympic Team. The singer is Iraqi, his name is Mohammed Abdul Jabbar. The song include some of the Iraqi goals during the olympics. Song's title is: Ya Hella IbMunitakhabneh which means: Welcome our Team.

It talks about the joy that has filled the hearts of Iraqis and smile drawn on their faces as a result of the Olympic team's achievements.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Iraqi children dream of becoming football legends

BAGHDAD, Daily Times

On a dusty pitch in the heart of war-torn Baghdad, scores of Iraqi children are playing football and dreaming that one day they will become stars of the national team.

Oblivious to the death and destruction around them, they fantasize about stepping out in front of a packed stadium to score the winning goal for their country. "I love Iraq", says five-year-old Amir Hussein as he practices with friends at the pitch on Abu al-Nawas Street, a once-popular promenade on the banks of the River Tigris, now deserted amid the persistent insecurity gripping the capital.

Amir shares the same ambition as 10-year-old Hussein Ali Jaber and the rest of the 120 children who gather for weekly training on a playing field that was once reserved for the security agents of Saddam Hussein. "I want to represent Iraq". "I love football and I love to play with my friends," says Hussein.

The training school was formed six months ago by concerned parents in Baghdad's al-Karada neighbourhood to give hope to the city's children amid the daily diet of bombings and kidnappings. No fees are taken from children. balls and kit are donated by a charity.

"We started this school to give children a glimmer of hope. In the circumstances that we are living in, it is very difficult to find different activities for children," says Amer Fadel, a member of the nine-man organising committee. "In the first place, they are all our children. It is better to keep them under our supervision and busy them with harmless pastimes."

Children between the ages of five and 13, some wearing proper football studs, others simple training shoes or bare feet follow their coach's instructions, while US military helicopters hover overhead. "The children and their families are happy. We take good care of them," says Fadel.

Parents are reassred to know their children are having fun and safe from the wave of kidnappings that has devastated families in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq, he adds.

The 40-year-old former member of the national squad admits that the number of children joining the club has increased since Iraq's men reached the quarter finals at the Athens Olympics in August. "Lots of children were eager to play football after the Olympics. It was a great team and most Iraqis had the chance to see guys playing live on television," says Fadel.

"I would love to be like Roberto Carlos when I grow up," says nine-year-old Amr, sporting the colours of Turin team Juventus despite his devotion to Real Madrid's veteran Brazilian defender. "I like the Italian club, but Roberto Carlos is a great player," says Amr with a smile before running back on to the pitch.

Source: Daily Times

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Haidar Mahmood recalled for Iraq's crucial qualifier

Baghdad, Al Sabaah Daily

Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad has recalled first choice goalkeeper Ahmed Ali and Haidar Mahmood for Iraq's all-important qualifier against Uzbekistan next month.

Ahmed Ali, who missed out on Iraq's remarkable run in Athens in August, returns to the squad after serving a one-match suspension. Haidar Mahmood, on the other hand, has been virtually abscent from he national setup for almost two years. He has only featured once for Iraq since late 2002. The 31 year-old right back will be hoping the recall would serve to revive his international career.

Hamad made three other changes, two of which come as a surprise. Jassim Mohammad Ghulam, a member of Iraq's U-20 golden side that won the Asian U-20 cup in Iran in 2000, makes a return to the national team after impressing lately with Al-Jawiya. Also making a surprise return is Al-Shorta's 22 year-old combative midfielder Haitham Kadhim, whose spirited displays for Al-Shorta in Al-Jumhoriya's Cup lately in Egypt must have convinced Hamad to give him another chance at the national level. As expected, Ahmed Mnajid's replacement comes in Loay Salah, who has been in fine form lately. Iraq must win agains Uzbekistan on October 12th in Amman to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the second round of world cup 2006 qualifiers.
*Translated from Arabic

Source: Alsabaah Daily