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

Monday, September 20, 2004

Future of Iraq

Iraq's Heroes & Roses

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Iraqi football teams' achievements

Johannesburg, by Maithem Al Anbari

Since 1948 when Iraqi Football Federation had been established Iraq national teams and clubs have effectively participated in many regional, continental and international tournaments.

Following is a list of Iraqi teams' achievements since 1948:

1- Gulf Cup
Iraq participated seven times (76, 79, 82, 84, 88 and 90)
1979 Champions.
1984 Champions.
1988 Champions.

2- Arabs Champions Cup
Al-Shorta 1981 Champions.
Al-Rasheed 1985 Champions.
Al-Rasheed 1986 Champions.
Al-Rasheed 1987 Champions.

3- Pan-Arab Cup
Iraq participated four times (64, 66, 85 and 88)
1964 Champions.
1966 Champions.
1985 Champions.
1988 Champions.

4- Pan-Arab Games
1985 Champions.
1999 Runner's up.

5- West Asia Cup
2002 Champions.
2000 3rd in .
2004 4th.

6- Asian club Champions Cup
Al Shorta club Runner's up, Al Shorta refused to play against Maccabi Tel Aviv for political reasons 1971.
Al Rasheed Runner's up in 1988.
Al Talab Runner's up in 1998.

7- Asian Cup Winners' Cup
Al Zawra 3rd in 2000.

8- Asian Games
Iraq qualified four times (74, 78, 82 and 86).
1982 Champions.

8- Asian Cup U-19
Iraq qualified nine times to the final (75, 76, 77, 78, 82, 88, 94, 98 and 2000)
1959 Champions.
1975 Champions.
1977 Champions.
1978 Champions.
1988 Champions.
2000 Champions.
1982 3rd
1994 semi-finalist

9- Asian Cup
Iraq qualfied five times (72, 76, 96, 2000 and 2004):
1976 4th.
96, 2000 and 2004 semi-finalist.

10- U 19 World Cup
Iraq reached the final three times ( 77, 89 and 2001)
1989 semi-finalist

11- Military World Cup (CISM)
1972 Champions
1977 Champions
1979 Champions

12- Olympic Games
Iraq made it to the final four times (80, 84, 88 and 2004)
2004 4th
1980 semi-finalist

13- World Cup
Iraq qualified to the World Cup in 1986