Iraq national football team

Last updated

Iraq
Iraq National Football Team Shirt Badge.png
Nickname(s) Asood Al-Rafidain
(Lions of Mesopotamia)
Association Iraq Football Association
Confederation AFC (Asia)
Sub-confederation WAFF (West Asia)
Head coach Srečko Katanec
Captain Dhurgham Ismail
Most caps Younis Mahmoud (148)
Top scorer Hussein Saeed (78)
Home stadium Basra International Stadium
FIFA code IRQ
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First colours
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Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 76 Increase2.svg 4 (4 April 2019) [1]
Highest39 (6 October 2004)
Lowest139 (3 July 1996)
Elo ranking
Current 58 Increase2.svg 11 (27 March 2019) [2]
Highest22 (3 December 1982)
Lowest95 (6 October 2016)
First international
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco 3–3 Iraq Flag of Iraq (1924-1959).svg
(Beirut, Lebanon; 19 October 1957)
Biggest win
Flag of Iraq (1991-2004).svg Iraq 13–0 Ethiopia Flag of Ethiopia (1991-1996).svg
(Irbid, Jordan; 18 August 1992)
Biggest defeat
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 7–1 Iraq Flag of Iraq (1959-1963).svg
(Adana, Turkey; 6 December 1959)
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 6–0 Iraq Flag of Iraq.svg
(Malmö, Sweden; 11 October 2012)
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile 6–0 Iraq Flag of Iraq.svg
(Copenhagen, Denmark; 14 August 2013)
World Cup
Appearances1 (first in 1986 )
Best resultGroup stage, 1986
Asian Cup
Appearances9 (first in 1972 )
Best resultChampions, 2007
Confederations Cup
Appearances1 (first in 2009)
Best resultGroup stage, 2009

The Iraq national football team (Arabic : المنتخب العراقي لكرة القدم) represents Iraq in international football. The team is known by its fans as Asood Al-Rafidain (Arabic : أسود الرافدين), which means Lions of Mesopotamia , and is controlled by the Iraq Football Association (IFA), which is currently a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as well as the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), the Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) and the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation (AGCFF). [3]

Iraq Republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Mesopotamia Historical region within the Tigris–Euphrates river system

Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.

Contents

Iraq are one of eight current AFC members to have won the continent's most coveted trophy, the AFC Asian Cup, having done so in 2007 when they beat Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final. The triumph has been described as one of football's greatest fairytale victories, with the team managing to eliminate competitors with far greater preparation and resources on their way to the title, bringing joy and unity to the people of their war-torn nation. [4] Iraq also achieved success at the Asian Games when it was a senior competition, winning the gold medal in 1982 by defeating rivals Kuwait 1–0 in the decisive match. The team has been awarded the AFC National Team of the Year award twice (and the under-20 team has won the award once); only Japan have won the award on more occasions.

AFC Asian Cup international association football tournament run by the Asian Football Confederation

The AFC Asian Cup is an international association football tournament run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). It is the second oldest continental football championship in the world after Copa América. The winning team becomes the champion of Asia and until 2015 qualified for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

2007 AFC Asian Cup football tournament

The 2007 AFC Asian Cup was the 14th edition of the men's AFC Asian Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The finals were held from 7 to 29 July 2007. For the first time in its history, the competition was co-hosted by four nations: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. For the first time in the nation's history, Iraq won the continental title after it defeated Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final. As the winner, Iraq represented the AFC in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

The Saudi Arabia national football team represents Saudi Arabia in international football. The team's colours are green and white. Saudi Arabia are known as Al-Suqour and Al-Akhdhar.

From 1964 to 1988, Iraq achieved multiple honours on the Arab stage, winning three Arabian Gulf Cup titles, four Arab Nations Cup titles and the gold medal at the Pan Arab Games. [3] They added West Asian honours to their cabinet in the 2000s, defeating Jordan 3–2 after extra time to win the 2002 WAFF Championship and beating Syria in a penalty shootout to claim gold at the 2005 West Asian Games. [5]

The Arabian Gulf Cup, also known as the Gulf Cup of Nations and often referred to simply as the Gulf Cup, is a biennial football competition for the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, in addition to neighbouring state Yemen, and is governed by the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation. The history of the competition has also seen it held every three to four years due to political or organisational problems.

The Arab Nations Cup is a football competition held between Arab countries. The first edition took place in Lebanon in 1963. Iraq is the most successful team in the history of the tournament with four consecutive titles in 1964, 1966, 1985 and 1988, while Saudi Arabia has won twice in 1998 and 2002. Other winning sides were Tunisia in 1963, Egypt in 1992, and Morocco in 2012.

The Pan Arab Games are a regional multi-sport event held between nations from the Arab world. A men's football tournament has been held at every session of the Games since 1953, except for 2004.

Iraq have participated in the FIFA World Cup once (in 1986) [6] and in the FIFA Confederations Cup once (in 2009), [7] being eliminated in the group stage both times. They reached as far as the quarter-finals in the Olympic Games when it was a senior tournament, with the under-23 team going even further in later years. The team has been ranked as high as 39th in the FIFA World Rankings, which they achieved in October 2004.

FIFA World Cup association football competition for mens national teams

The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War. The current champion is France, which won its second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

1986 FIFA World Cup 1986 edition of the FIFA World Cup

The 1986 FIFA World Cup, the 13th FIFA World Cup, was held in Mexico from 31 May to 29 June 1986. The tournament was the second to feature a 24-team format. With European nations not allowed to host after the previous World Cup in Spain, Colombia had been originally chosen to host the competition by FIFA but, largely due to economic reasons, was not able to do so and officially resigned in 1982. Mexico was selected as the new host in May 1983, thus becoming the first country to host the World Cup more than once. This was the third FIFA World Cup tournament in succession that was hosted by a Spanish-speaking country, after Argentina 1978, and Spain 1982.

The FIFA Confederations Cup was an international association football tournament for men's national teams, held every four years by FIFA. It was contested by the holders of each of the six continental championships, along with the current FIFA World Cup holder and the host nation, to bring the number of teams up to eight.

History

Early years

As early as 1923, an Iraqi team known as Baghdad XI, controlled by the Baghdad Football Association, started to play matches against British Army teams. [8] The Baghdad FA soon disbanded and it was not until 8 October 1948 that the Iraq Football Association was founded. The Iraq FA joined FIFA in 1950 and on 2 May 1951, Iraq played their first match: a 1–1 draw to a team named Basra XI. [8] Iraq's first ever official international game came in the opening game of the 1957 Pan Arab Games in Beirut where Iraq drew 3–3 to Morocco with goals from Ammo Baba, Youra Eshaya and Fakhri Mohammed Salman. [8] Iraq were eventually knocked out in the group stage of that tournament. [8] One of the members of Iraq’s first national team was Youra Eshaya, who in 1954 became the first Iraqi footballer to play abroad and in Europe for English Football League side Bristol Rovers. He spent 18 months playing for the 3rd team, known as the Colts and the reserve team before returning to Iraq in late 1955. [8]

Iraq Football Association

The Iraq Football Association is the governing body of football in Iraq, controlling the Iraqi national team and the Iraqi Premier League. The Iraqi Football Association was founded in 1948 and has been a member of FIFA since 1950, the Asian Football Confederation since 1970, and the Sub-confederation regional body West Asian Football Federation since 2000. Iraq also is part of the Union of Arab Football Associations and has been a member since 1974. The Iraqi team is commonly known as Usood Al-Rafidain, which literally meaning Lions of Mesopotamia.

Beirut City in Lebanon

Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon. No recent population census has been conducted, but 2007 estimates ranged from slightly more than 1 million to 2.2 million as part of Greater Beirut. Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coast, Beirut is the country's largest and main seaport.

Morocco national football team mens national association football team representing Morocco

The Morocco national football team, nicknamed "Atlas Lions", is the national team of Morocco. It is managed by Hervé Renard.

In 1962, Iraq appointed their first foreign manager, Romanian coach Cornel Drăgușin. Iraq won their first trophy in 1964 when they hosted and won the Arab Nations Cup, winning three and drawing one of their four games. The next year, they participated in the Pan Arab Games for the second time, but were once again knocked out in the group stage. The following year, they lost the final of the 1966 Tripoli Fair Tournament to Morocco, but also retained their Arab Nations Cup title that year, beating Syria 2–1 in the final. [8] In 1967, Iraq claimed the Tripoli Fair Tournament title with two wins and one draw, and two years later they finished fifth at the Jaam-e-Doosti (Friendship) Cup, hosted in Iran. In 1972, Iraq hosted, and reached the final of, the Palestine Cup of Nations, losing the decisive match to Egypt. That year, Iraq also played at their first ever AFC Asian Cup but failed to win a game in the tournament. In March 1973, Iraq played their first ever FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. They finished second in their group, a point behind Australia, therefore failing to qualify for the next round. In the remaining years of the 1970s, Iraq reached the second round of the Asian Games (1974), lost the Palestine Cup of Nations final (1975), lost the Arabian Gulf Cup final (1976), finished fourth at the AFC Asian Cup (1976), lost two consecutive Merdeka Tournament finals (1977 and 1978), finished fourth in the Asian Games (1978) and finally hosted and won the Arabian Gulf Cup (1979). [3] The 1976 Asian Cup would be the last Asian Cup that Iraq appeared in for the next 20 years, as they withdrew from the next four editions. [9]

Romania Sovereign state in Europe

Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.

Cornel Drăguşin is a retired Romanian football manager who coached the national teams of Iraq, Syria and Romania. He was director of the Romanian FA coaching school from 1990 to 2002, until being replaced by Mircea Rădulescu.

The 1964 Arab Nations Cup is the second edition of the Arab Nations Cup hosted by Kuwait. In Iraq's first appearance, they won the title for the 1st time.

1980s – The Golden Era

The 1980s was arguably Iraq's most successful period in their history. They started the decade off disappointingly, being knocked out in the first round of qualifiers for the 1982 FIFA World Cup. In 1981, they won the Merdeka Tournament for the first time, and followed that up by winning the gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games, meanwhile the reserve team finished third at the 1983 Marah Halim Cup. In 1984, Iraq won both the Arabian Gulf Cup and the Merlion Cup, and the following year they finished fourth at the 1985 President's Cup Football Tournament, won the 1985 Arab Nations Cup and also won the gold medal at the 1985 Pan Arab Games.

After all this success, Iraq topped it off by qualifying for the 1986 FIFA World Cup with a win over Syria. This was the first and last time to date that Iraq have achieved this. Having finished in a lowly sixth place at the 1986 Arabian Gulf Cup, Iraq were unfancied in the 1986 FIFA World Cup; however Iraq lost all three of their games in the tournament by just one goal, and would have drawn the opening game against Paraguay had the referee not disallowed a legitimate Iraqi goal. [8] [6] Iraq's only goal in the tournament was scored by Ahmed Radhi, the second-highest goalscorer in Iraq's history with 62 goals, behind Hussein Saeed who scored 78 goals.

In the following years, Iraq reached the quarter-finals of the 1986 Asian Games, won the 1988 Arabian Gulf Cup, reached the quarter-finals of the 1988 President's Cup Football Tournament, won the 1988 Arab Nations Cup, were knocked out at the first round of 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification and won the 1989 Peace and Friendship Cup. [9] Overall, Iraq won nine competitions in the 1980s and played in their only ever World Cup, leading many to believe that this was the Golden Era of Iraqi football.

1990s – The Dark Era

In 1990, Iraq withdrew from the 10th Arabian Gulf Cup after complaining about the referee in their match against the United Arab Emirates. [10] Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait later that year, Iraq were kicked out of the tournament and didn't return until 2004. They were also banned from the Asian Games and Arab Nations Cup tournaments for the same reason, leading them to participate in friendly competitions instead.

In the 1992 Jordan International Tournament, Iraq recorded their biggest ever win: a 13–0 demolition of Ethiopia. Iraq reached the final of the tournament but lost 2–0 to Jordan. The following year, Iraq participated in qualifiers for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and reached the final round but finished fourth in the group, missing out on a World Cup spot by two points. By drawing their last game with Japan 2–2, they denied the Japanese a place in the finals in a match referred to by the Japanese media as the Agony of Doha. [11] Iraq won both the 1995 Nehru Cup and the 1995 Merdeka Tournament and the following year they participated in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup, their first Asian Cup campaign for 20 years. They reached the quarter-finals but lost to the United Arab Emirates thanks to a golden goal scored by Abdulrahman Ibrahim. In 1996, Iraq was ranked 139th in the world, which is their worst FIFA ranking in their history. Iraq retained their Nehru Cup title in 1997 and that year they also participated in qualifiers for the 1998 FIFA World Cup but were knocked out at the first round following two defeats to Kazakhstan. Iraq reached the final of the 1999 Pan Arab Games; they were losing 4–0 in the final against Jordan with just 20 minutes of the game remaining but produced a stunning comeback to score four goals in the space of fourteen minutes to take the game to extra time and eventually a penalty shootout which Iraq lost 3–1 to take the silver medal. [12] In 1999 Iraq also participated in the International Friendship Cup and won the cup ahead of the United Arab Emirates, Estonia and Turkmenistan. [9] This period is known as 'The Dark Era' as Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein, abused his control of Iraqi football and tortured players who played poorly, punishing them by sending them to prison, making them bathe in raw sewage and kick concrete balls, and shaving their heads among many other awful punishments. [13] [14]

2000s – Champions of Asia

Iraq started the 2000s by finishing in third place in the first ever WAFF Championship in 2000, while the reserve team finished as runners-up in the Independence Cup. That year Iraq also played in the 2000 AFC Asian Cup but were knocked out at the quarter-final stage again, this time by Japan in a 4–1 loss. Iraq reached the second round of 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification but lost five of their eight second-round games and therefore failed to make the finals. Iraq won their first ever WAFF Championship in 2002, beating Jordan 3–2 in the final after extra time despite being two goals down. [15] In this game, Younis Mahmoud scored his first official goal for Iraq right at the end of normal time to take the match to extra time; Mahmoud would go on to become Iraq's most-capped player ever. [16] In 2004, Iraq finished fourth in the WAFF Championship, reached the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup, were knocked out at the second round of 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and were knocked out in the group stage of the Arabian Gulf Cup. In 2004, Iraq were ranked as high as 39th in the World Rankings which is their highest ranking position in their history. The following year, Iraq participated in the West Asian Games for the first time and won the gold medal by beating Syria in the final via a penalty shootout, with goalkeeper Noor Sabri saving two penalties and scoring one himself. [5] In 2007, Iraq were knocked out at the group stage of the Arabian Gulf Cup. The exit from the Gulf Cup happened in very controversial circumstances as Iraq attempted to make an agreement with Saudi Arabia to draw the final game which would put both teams through to the next round; the Iraq manager Akram Salman told the Iraqi players not to win the game but the Saudi Arabian players were unaware of any agreement and went on to win the game and knock Iraq out of the cup. [17] A few months later, Iraq reached the final of the WAFF Championship but lost 2–1 to Iran.

Iraq playing against Australia in Group A of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup; Iraq won the game 3-1 on their way to winning the cup. Asian Cup Australia-Iraq II.jpg
Iraq playing against Australia in Group A of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup; Iraq won the game 3–1 on their way to winning the cup.

In July 2007, Iraq, led by Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira, kicked off their 2007 AFC Asian Cup campaign. The squad was made mainly of players that had finished fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games [18] and finished second at the 2006 Asian Games; this generation of players became known as the 'Golden Generation'. Jorvan Vieira only had two months to prepare his team for the tournament, and the team suffered from very poor facilities. The Iraq FA struggled to provide the team with enough kits for the tournament and each player only had one kit that they had to take around with them everywhere they went. Midway through the tournament, Iraq ran out of kits and had to make an emergency order from Umbro for a new set of kits that had a different design to the previous one. Meanwhile, Iraq had not been able to play any previous games in their own country for security reasons and most of the players had had family members killed in the war. The team, a mixture of Sunnis, Shias and Kurds, started the tournament with a 1–1 draw against joint-hosts Thailand before producing one of the upsets of the tournament: a 3–1 win over tournament favourites Australia (which included a free-kick goal by Nashat Akram) whose team consisted of many Premier League players. A draw with Oman followed to put Iraq into the quarter-finals where two Younis Mahmoud goals against Vietnam put Iraq into the semi-finals for the second time in their history. They produced another big upset by knocking out Asian giants South Korea (who had thrashed Iraq 3–0 in a pre-tournament friendly) in the semis via a penalty shootout in which Noor Sabri made a crucial save. After the game, a suicide bomber killed 30 football fans who were celebrating the semi-final win over South Korea and this almost led to the Iraqi team withdrawing from the final, but they decided to go on in honour of the dead and produced yet another upset by defeating Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final, a game that they dominated from start to finish and that was won by a Younis Mahmoud header. This tournament win is seen as one of the greatest upsets in international history as a war-torn country became international champions in what is described as one of sport's greatest 'fairytales'. [9] [4] [19] [20]

The following year, despite being the continent's champions, Iraq failed to advance to the final round of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as a 1–0 defeat to Qatar saw them finish in third in their third round group. Following this, the Iraq FA decided to disband the team but they were soon brought back together for the 2009 Arabian Gulf Cup. Iraq failed to win a game in the tournament though and were knocked out at the group stage.

A few months later, Iraq participated in only their second FIFA tournament ever: the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, which they qualified for by winning the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. They started the tournament with a 0–0 draw with hosts South Africa, before losing to UEFA Euro 2008 winners Spain by a very respectable one goal to nil in a match where they were expected to get beaten very easily. A 2–0 win over New Zealand would have seen Iraq qualify for the semi-finals of the Festival of Champions but they drew the game 0–0 and were knocked out. Iraq had similar problems in this tournament with their kits as players were seen wearing different name and number fonts to each other during the different games. [7] On 20 November 2009, the FIFA Emergency Committee suspended the Iraq FA due to government interference; [21] the suspension was lifted on 19 March 2010. [22]

2010s – Ups and downs

The Iraqi national team pose ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Oman in Doha in 2012. Iraq football team.jpg
The Iraqi national team pose ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Oman in Doha in 2012.

In both the 2010 WAFF Championship and 2010 Arabian Gulf Cup, Iraq were knocked out in the semi-finals, while under the management of Wolfgang Sidka, Iraq were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, failing to retain their title. After this tournament, Iraq announced the appointment of Brazilian football legend Zico as manager of the team and his first tournament in charge was the 2011 Pan Arab Games where Iraq were knocked out at the group stage. [23]

The following years saw Iraq finish third at the 2012 Arab Nations Cup and lose the finals of both the 2012 WAFF Championship and 2013 Arabian Gulf Cup to Syria and the United Arab Emirates respectively after the resignation of Zico. Iraq reached the fourth round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers but finished bottom of their group. Iraq decided to send their U23 team to the 2014 WAFF Championship, but they sent their first team to the 2014 Arabian Gulf Cup where Iraq finished bottom of their group, leading to the sacking of Hakeem Shaker and the appointment of Radhi Shenaishil as manager. Despite poor preparations, Shenaishil led Iraq to the semi-finals of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup before they lost to South Korea and the United Arab Emirates to finish the tournament in fourth. Their run included an amazing 3–3 draw with Iran in the quarter-final, which Iraq then won in a penalty shootout. Younis Mahmoud also became the first player to score in four different Asian Cups. After this great success, Shenaishil returned to managing Qatar SC and Iraq appointed Akram Salman as manager but he was soon sacked after losing the 2015 Kirin Challenge Cup 4–0 to Japan. Yahya Alwan was appointed and he led Iraq to direct qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup as well as qualification to the third round of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Despite this, he was replaced by Radhi Shenaishil due to Iraq's poor performances in the qualifiers. Iraq were drawn with Thailand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan and Australia in their third round group. [24] After losing five of their first seven games, Iraq were eliminated from the qualification process, and Radhi Shenaishil was sacked, [25] replaced by Basim Qasim. [26] Qasim led Iraq to the semi-finals of the Arabian Gulf Cup, where they were knocked out by the United Arab Emirates.

On 3 September 2018, Srečko Katanec was appointed as head coach for a three-year contract. [27] Under Katanec, Iraq managed to reach the round of sixteen of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, but repeatedly injuries torn his Iraq as they lost to eventual champions Qatar by one goal margin. [28]

Home matches in Iraq

The Iraqi national team pose ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against China in 2011. Despite being a home match for Iraq, it was played in Doha as Iraq were not allowed to host games in their own country. Iraq national football team 2011.jpg
The Iraqi national team pose ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against China in 2011. Despite being a home match for Iraq, it was played in Doha as Iraq were not allowed to host games in their own country.

Iraq played their home games on neutral territory in the 1980s due to the Iran–Iraq War, but still qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and three Olympic Games (Moscow, Los Angeles and Seoul). In qualification for the 2002 World Cup, Iraq played at home against Iran for the first time since the war between two nations, Bahrain, and Thailand in the Al-Shaab Stadium in Baghdad, but Saudi Arabia refused to play against the nation because of the tensions between that country and the regime of Saddam Hussein. In 2003, the war in Iraq forced Iraq to play their home matches outside the country for security reasons, and so fixtures were held in Jordan, Syria, Qatar or the UAE.

Due to the Iraq War and post-war events, Iraq was unable to host home matches in Iraq. In 2009, the Iraq Football Association (IFA) asked FIFA to end its ban imposed on hosting official matches in Iraq. Iraq resumed playing on home soil on 10 July 2009, winning a friendly 3–0 against Palestine in Franso Hariri Stadium, Erbil. Iraq played the same opponents three days later, in Al-Shaab Stadium in Baghdad, this time winning 4–0 in front of a crowd of over 50,000. [15] The same month, the AFC Executive Committee approved the stadium at Erbil as a venue for matches involving the Iraqi national team, and clubs in continental tournaments. [29]

On 2 September 2011, Iraq played a FIFA World Cup qualifier on home ground for the first time in years. They played against Jordan in front of a crowd of 24,000 people in the Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil. However, on 23 September 2011, FIFA banned Iraq from playing their qualifiers at home yet again due to fears over security and a breach of safety regulations in the match with Jordan. The Franso Hariri Stadium went on to host the 2012 AFC Cup Final.

On 22 March 2013, FIFA lifted the ban on international football friendlies in Iraqi stadiums. Four days later, Iraq played their first international friendly match in Baghdad since 2009 against Syria in front of a crowd of over 50,000 people in the Al-Shaab Stadium and won the game 2–1. Two months later, they played another friendly at the Al-Shaab Stadium, this time against Liberia. However, on 3 July 2013, FIFA barred Iraq from hosting international football friendlies due to a massive surge in nationwide violence, barely three months after world football's governing body gave Baghdad the go-ahead.

On 9 May 2017, FIFA lifted the ban on international friendlies, but only in the cities of Basra, Karbala, and Erbil. [30] [31] Iraq played their first ever international game at the 65,000-seater Basra Sports City Stadium on 1 June 2017, beating Jordan, 1–0. [32]

On 16 March 2018, FIFA announced the lifting of the ban on competitive matches in the cities of Basra, Karbala, and Erbil. [33]

It was also announced in early 2018 that Iraq will host the 2018 WAFF Championship in November 2018.

Timeline

Below is a timeline of the various bans imposed by FIFA that prevented Iraq from hosting competitive international games. [34]

Ban startedBan liftedReason of ban
19801982Incident at 1980 Olympics qualifier against Kuwait
19841988 Iran–Iraq War
19901995 Gulf War
19 March 200315 July 2009 2003 invasion of Iraq
23 September 201116 March 2018Breach of safety regulations in 2014 World Cup qualifier against Jordan, followed by Iraqi Civil War

Supporters

Iraq national team supporters are known for chanting "O Victorious Baghdad" during the Iraqi team's matches.

Always remains High, O Victorious Baghdad, ( أتضلي دايما فوق، منصورة يا بغداد )
And to see your eternal Glory, O Victorious Baghdad. ( و نشوفج بعز دوم ، منصورة يا بغداد )
O Victorious Baghdad, O Victorious Baghdad, ( منصورة يا بغداد، منصورة يا بغداد )

Another famous chant is "the first goal is coming" ("هسه يجي الاول") which is chanted in the beginning of the match. A succeeding chant is "the second goal is coming" ("هسه يجي الثاني"); this is usually chanted repeatedly after Iraq score a goal to motivate the players to score another.

Colours

Iraq's traditional home kit is white, with either green or black trimmings. The away kit is traditionally green, with white trimmings.

Previous kit colours

Kit manufacturer

The Iraqi national football team kit has previously been manufactured by brands such as Adidas, Puma, Nike, Diadora, Jack & Jones, Lotto, Umbro and Peak and its current manufacturer is Jako. [35]

PeriodKit manufacturer
1984–1986 Flag of England.svg Umbro
1986–1994 Flag of Germany.svg Adidas
1996 Flag of Germany.svg Puma
2000 Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Patrick
2003–2004 Flag of Germany.svg Jako
2004–2006 Flag of Denmark.svg Jack & Jones
2006 Flag of Italy.svg Diadora
2006 Flag of Italy.svg Lotto
2007 Flag of Germany.svg Adidas
2007 Flag of England.svg Umbro
2008–2014 Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Peak
2014 Flag of Germany.svg Adidas
2014– Flag of Germany.svg Jako

Unlike most other national teams, Iraq kits usually have the country's flag on them rather than the Football Association's logo, although the FA's logo has appeared on kits before, most recently from 2014–2015. However, in some cases both the flag and the FA's logo have not featured on the kit and have been replaced with other logos. From 1985–1986, the coat of arms of Iraq featured in the centre of the kit (occasionally only the part of the logo containing the flag was used), [6] meanwhile from 2000–2002, Iraq mainly used a logo that featured the vertical black, white and red bands of the Iraq flag underneath the name Iraq written in Arabic in green text. In the 2005 West Asian Games, a logo featuring black and white bands underneath a red semicircle featured on the kit with the three stars of the flag shown in the white band. [5] In the 2007 WAFF Championship and part of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, Iraq reverted to using the logo that they had used from 2000–2002. [4]

Competition records

*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

FIFA World Cup

FIFA Confederations Cup

AFC Asian Cup

Regional competitions

Formerly senior competitions

Team records

Head-to-head record

Key
  Positive balance
  Neutral balance
  Negative balance

The list shown below shows the Iraq national football team all-time international record against opposing nations.

As of 26 March 2019counted for the FIFA A-level matches only.

FIFA rankings

Below is a chart of Iraq's FIFA ranking from 1993 till now. [36]

Iraq national football team

Matches

Rivalries

Statistics vs. Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait
Played1Wins2Draws3LossesGFGA
3215984432
1. Only matches recognized by FIFA.
2. Wins for Iraq.
3. Includes matches that went to a penalty shootout.

Iraq's rivalry with Kuwait is considered as the Arab world's greatest football rivalry of all time. [37] The rivalry began in the mid-1970s and it was the decade from 1976 until 1986 that saw the golden age of football for arguably the finest teams the region has produced. Both nations imposed their complete domination on the Gulf region, and from the Arabian Gulf Cup's inception in 1970 until 1990, the tournament was won by only two teams: Kuwait, seven times (1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1982, 1986, 1990), and Iraq, three times (1979, 1984, 1988), despite Iraq's absence in the first three editions and their withdrawal from two others. [37]

Iraq and Kuwait took their increasingly bitter rivalry to a new level on 11 June 1976. The two met in the semi-final of the AFC Asian Cup in Tehran; Kuwait took the lead twice, but Iraq came roaring back twice. And then, in the 10th minute of extra time, Fathi Kameel scored the winner for Kuwait. In 1979, the year Iraq clinched their first Arabian Gulf Cup with the help of a 3–1 win over Kuwait, the two met in a qualifier for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow; both managed to qualify to the Olympic Games, and both made it to the quarter-finals there. Iraq also qualified for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and 1988 Games in Seoul. Iraq won the gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games by defeating Kuwait 1–0 in the final, while Kuwait won the 1980 AFC Asian Cup, which they hosted. The nations also left their mark on the world stage. Kuwait qualified for the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain. Iraq matched that in Mexico 1986. [37]

As Iraq and Kuwait traded Gulf titles in 1988 and 1990, few could have imagined that their rivalry on the football field would be replaced by an altogether more catastrophic one on the battlefield. Because of the Gulf War, football would never be the same again. Iraq and Kuwait were in complete avoidance and never met for more than a decade; in fact, the first footballing meeting of any sort between the countries was in the 2003 edition of the Arab Champions League when Iraqi giants Al-Shorta, former winners of the tournament, faced off against Al-Kuwait and drew 2–2. Kuwait's Blues had a relative recovery of sorts, winning the Gulf Cup in 1996 and 1998, before securing a record tenth title in 2010. Iraqi football, because of the torturer-in-chief Uday Hussein's reign of terror as head of the football association, would take far longer to recover. When it did, it was in glorious fashion, with the Lions of Mesopotamia winning the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. [37]

Statistics vs. Flag of Iran.svg  Iran
Played1Wins2Draws3LossesGFGA
2857162036
1. Only matches recognized by FIFA.
2. Wins for Iraq.
3. Includes matches that went to a penalty shootout.

Iraq and Iran are rivals. [38] [39] [40] Before 2015, the rivalry was not such a football-inspired ill-feeling between the two, but more of geography, religion and history. [38] Iran and Iraq are neighbouring countries, sharing a long history. In contemporary era, especially during the reign of Saddam Hussein, the two countries had bad relations and fought the Iran–Iraq War for 8 years. [39] [40] In 2001, for the first time in decades, an Iran-Iraq match was not held at a neutral venue. [40]

The rivalry between the two teams was escalated after the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. The two sides faced each other in the quarter-final with Iraq prevailing 7–6 on penalties after a sensational 3–3 draw in Canberra; the game was described as one of the best in the tournament's history. After the game, Iranian supporters voiced their anger at the referee's performance, even going as far to claim that he should receive a life ban for the sending off of an Iranian player, and also launched allegations against Iraqi player Alaa Abdul-Zahra claiming he was not qualified to play due to an older doping case six months prior to the competition, in an attempt to get Iraq kicked out of the tournament and themselves reinstated into the semi-finals; their complaint was rejected by the AFC. Iraq eventually finished fourth in the tournament with Iran failing to make the semi-finals for the third straight time. [41] It took two years for the teams to meet again when Iraq played away from home in a friendly match in Tehran; Iraq managed to win again, this time a 1–0 victory, to put an end to Iran's two-year unbeaten streak, [42] and tensions between the two sets of supporters have never been greater. [43]

Statistics vs. Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia
Played1Wins2Draws3LossesGFGA
33168105329
1. Only matches recognized by FIFA.
2. Wins for Iraq.
3. Includes matches that went to a penalty shootout.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia are often considered to be the two greatest Arab football teams in the Middle East and Asia. The beginnings of the footballing rivalry between them dates back to the 1970s, but it was only after the 1990s that the great rivalry between two Arab nations truly developed since it was previously overshadowed by Iraq's rivalries with Iran and Kuwait. [44]

The rivalry has also had elements of historical, complicated relations. The two countries used to be allies against Iran during the Iran–Iraq War. However, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, culminating the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia and Iraq had hostile relations, and football was commonly used to fuel the hatred between two countries competing for Arab pride. This made the rivalry emerge as one of the newest rivalries in the continent. Recent warming relations between Iran and Iraq (the former has also had a rivalry with Saudi Arabia) further deepens the competition between the two Arab nations, despite efforts to improve relations that are still ongoing. [45]

Recent results and fixtures

  Win  Draw  Loss [46]

2018

2019

Coaching staff

Srecko Katanec is the manager of Iraq. Pre-Iran Iraq press conference 20190115 06.jpg
Srečko Katanec is the manager of Iraq.
PositionName
Head coach Flag of Slovenia.svg Srečko Katanec
Assistant coach Flag of Slovenia.svg Vlado Radmanović
Flag of Slovenia.svg Aleš Čeh
Goalkeeping coach Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg Nihad Pejković
Fitness coachvacant
Team manager Flag of Iraq.svg Basil Gorgis
Team doctor Flag of Iraq.svg Qasim Mohammed

Players

Current squad

No.Pos.PlayerDate of birth (age)CapsGoalsClub
1 GK Jalal Hassan (1991-05-18) 18 May 1991 (age 27)450 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Zawraa
1 GK Mohammed Hameed (1993-01-24) 24 January 1993 (age 26)250 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta
1 GK Mohammed Saleh 00 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Karkh

2 DF Dhurgham Ismail (1994-05-24) 24 May 1994 (age 24)443 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta
2 DF Alaa Mhawi (1996-06-03) 3 June 1996 (age 22)260 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta
2 DF Hussam Kadhim (1987-10-17) 17 October 1987 (age 31)240 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta
2 DF Rebin Sulaka (1992-04-12) 12 April 1992 (age 27)200 Flag of Qatar.svg Al-Shahania
2 DF Saad Natiq (1994-03-19) 19 March 1994 (age 25)140 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
2 DF Sameh Saeed (1992-05-26) 26 May 1992 (age 26)130 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
2 DF Maitham Jabbar (2000-11-10) 10 November 2000 (age 18)10 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Karkh
2 DF Uday Shehab 00 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Karkh

3 MF Safaa Hadi (1998-10-14) 14 October 1998 (age 20)120 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Zawraa
3 MF Justin Meram (1988-12-04) 4 December 1988 (age 30)314 Flag of the United States.svg Columbus Crew
3 MF Bashar Resan (1996-12-22) 22 December 1996 (age 22)262 Flag of Iran.svg Persepolis
3 MF Amjad Attwan (1997-03-12) 12 March 1997 (age 22)340 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta
3 MF Hussein Ali (1996-11-29) 29 November 1996 (age 22)251 Flag of Qatar.svg Qatar SC
3 MF Ahmed Jalal (1998-03-17) 17 March 1998 (age 21)30 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Zawraa
3 MF Karrar Nabeel (1998-01-01) 1 January 1998 (age 21)10 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya

4 FW Ayman Hussein (1996-03-22) 22 March 1996 (age 23)242 Flag of Tunisia.svg CS Sfaxien
4 FW Mohanad Ali (2000-06-20) 20 June 2000 (age 18)179 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta
4 FW Alaa Abbas (1997-07-27) 27 July 1997 (age 21)51 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Zawraa

Recent call-ups

The following players have also been called up to the Iraq squad within the last 12 months.

Pos.PlayerDate of birth (age)CapsGoalsClubLatest call-up
GK Mohammed Gassid (1986-12-10) 10 December 1986 (age 32)690 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019
GK Fahad Talib (1994-10-21) 21 October 1994 (age 24)30 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya v. Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia , 15 October 2018
GK Mustafa Saadoun (1994-01-28) 28 January 1994 (age 25)00 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Naft v. Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine , 8 May 2018

DF Ahmad Ibrahim (1992-02-25) 25 February 1992 (age 27)843 Flag of Qatar.svg Al-Arabi 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019 INJ
DF Ali Adnan (1993-12-19) 19 December 1993 (age 25)664 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Vancouver Whitecaps 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019 SUS
DF Waleed Salim (1992-01-05) 5 January 1992 (age 27)491 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019 SUS
DF Ali Faez (1994-09-09) 9 September 1994 (age 24)253 Flag of Qatar.svg Al-Kharaitiyat 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019 SUS
DF Frans Dhia Putros (1993-07-14) 14 July 1993 (age 25)40 Flag of Denmark.svg Hobro IK 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019 INJ
DF Ahmed Abdul-Ridha (1997-04-02) 2 April 1997 (age 22)40 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya v. Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China PR , 24 December 2018
DF Raad Fanar (1997-03-25) 25 March 1997 (age 22)31 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Naft v. Flag of Bolivia (state).svg  Bolivia , 20 November 2018
DF Mustafa Nadhim (1993-09-23) 23 September 1993 (age 25)284 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta v. Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia , 15 October 2018 INJ
DF Mustafa Mohammed (1998-01-14) 14 January 1998 (age 21)40 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Zawraa v. Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia , 15 October 2018
DF Hamza Adnan (1996-02-08) 8 February 1996 (age 23)10 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Zawraa v. Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine , 8 May 2018

MF Ahmed Yasin (1991-04-22) 22 April 1991 (age 27)636 Flag of Sweden.svg Häcken v. Flag of Syria.svg  Syria , 20 March 2019
MF Humam Tariq (1996-02-10) 10 February 1996 (age 23)553 Flag of Iran.svg Esteghlal v. Flag of Syria.svg  Syria , 20 March 2019 INJ
MF Ali Husni (1994-05-23) 23 May 1994 (age 24)263 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019 INJ
MF Osama Rashid (1992-01-17) 17 January 1992 (age 27)220 Flag of Portugal.svg Santa Clara 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019 INJ
MF Mahdi Kamel (1995-01-06) 6 January 1995 (age 24)473 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta v. Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine , 28 December 2018
MF Brwa Nouri (1987-01-23) 23 January 1987 (age 32)91 Flag of Indonesia.svg Bali United v. Flag of Bolivia (state).svg  Bolivia , 20 November 2018 RET
MF Mazin Fayyadh (1997-04-02) 2 April 1997 (age 22)91 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Naft v. Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia , 15 October 2018
MF Saad Abdul-Amir (1992-01-19) 19 January 1992 (age 27)784 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Shorta v. Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait , 10 September 2018
MF Yaser Kasim (1991-05-10) 10 May 1991 (age 27)193 Unattached v. Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait , 10 September 2018
MF Ibrahim Bayesh (2000-05-01) 1 May 2000 (age 18)10 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya v. Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine , 8 May 2018

FW Mohammed Dawood (2000-11-22) 22 November 2000 (age 18)50 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Naft 2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019 INJ
FW Mohannad Abdul-Raheem (1993-09-22) 22 September 1993 (age 25)4410 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Zawraa v. Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine , 28 December 2018
FW Wissam Saadoun (1990-07-01) 1 July 1990 (age 28)10 Flag of Iraq.svg Naft Maysan v. Flag of Bolivia (state).svg  Bolivia , 20 November 2018
FW Mohammed Shokan (1993-05-21) 21 May 1993 (age 25)91 Flag of Iraq.svg Al-Minaa v. Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine , 4 August 2018

Notes:

  • SUS Player suspended
  • INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury
  • RET Retired from the national team
  • WD Player withdrew from the squad for non-injury related reasons

Previous squads

World Cups
Asian Cups
Confederations Cups
Olympic Games
Since 1992, the Olympic Games has been part of the under-23 team's record.
Asian Games
Since 2002, the Asian Games has been part of the under-23 team's record.
Regional tournaments
Note: The 2014 WAFF Championship was part of the under-23 team's record.

Records

Most-capped players

Younis Mahmoud is Iraq's all-time most capped player in international matches, having played in 148 official games. Younis Mahmoud 2011.jpg
Younis Mahmoud is Iraq's all-time most capped player in international matches, having played in 148 official games.
As of 28 February 2018 [47]
Players in bold are still available for selection.
#NameCapsGoalsFirst capLatest cap
1 Younis Mahmoud 1485719 July 200229 March 2016
2 Hussein Saeed 137785 September 19763 March 1990
3 Ahmed Radhi 1216221 February 198220 June 1997
Adnan Dirjal 811 December 19783 March 1990
5 Hawar Mulla Mohammed 1131931 August 200112 June 2012
Nashat Akram 175 October 20014 June 2013
Ali Rehema 28 June 200529 March 2016
8 Alaa Abdul-Zahra 110158 June 20072 January 2018
Mahdi Karim 1112 October 200128 February 2018
10 Raad Hammoudi 10408 February 197621 February 1987

All-time top goalscorers

As of 28 February 2018 [47]
Players in bold are still available for selection
#NameCareerGoalsCapsGoal ratio
1 Hussein Saeed 1976–1990781370.57
2 Ahmed Radhi 1982–1997621210.51
3 Younis Mahmoud 2002–2016571480.38
4 Ali Kadhim 1970–198035820.43
5 Falah Hassan 1970–1986291030.28
6 Emad Mohammed 2001–2012271030.26
7 Razzaq Farhan 1998–200725620.40
8 Laith Hussein 1986–200221800.26
9 Hesham Mohammed 1998–200419430.44
Hawar Mulla Mohammed 2001–20121130.17

Honours

Soccer Field Transparant.svg

Iraq's starting line-up against Saudi Arabia in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup Final, a match they won 1–0.

AFC Competitions

WAFF Competitions

UAFA Competitions

AGCFF Competitions

Friendly Wins


  1. Iraq's Asian Cup win qualified them for the Afro-Asian Cup of Nations, which was to be a match played in November 2008 against Egypt hosted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. However, the match was eventually cancelled.
  2. The Asian Games has been part of the Olympic Team's record since 2002; since then Iraq has achieved one silver medal and one bronze medal. Likewise the Olympic Games has been part of the Olympic Team's record since 1992; since then Iraq has achieved fourth place once.
  3. No third place match was played; Iraq ranked above Yemen based on overall record in the tournament for the purpose of this list.

See also

Related Research Articles

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