July 26, 2007

Iraqi national team goes to Asian Cup Final

The Iraqi team are on an emotional rollercoaster after reaching their first Asian Cup final as it took a bloody toll back home where at least 50 celebrating fans were killed.

Iraq shocked the more fancied South Korea 4-3 in a penalty shootout after it was scoreless after extra time on Wednesday to put them on the brink of their greatest footballing achievement.

They had only got as far as the semi-finals in 1976 and lost in their last three consecutive quarter-finals at the Asian Cup, but now travel to Jakarta for an all-Arab final with Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

"Everyone is happy and we have reason to be happy because this victory brings us to the final and we deserved that," said Iraq's Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira, who has been in charge for less than two months.

"My boys have worked very hard."

An emotional Vieira said the victory was for "the people of Iraq because they deserve it".

Thousands of Iraqis wearing team jerseys and waving national flags poured on to the streets of Baghdad cheering and firing assault rifles wildly into the air after the match to celebrate a rare moment of shared joy.

But the jubilation didn't last long.

Two massive car bombs were detonated in the Iraqi capital by insurgents, killing at least 50 people and wounding 90.

I hope they win. What a wonderful thing that would be -- a victory in the Asian Cup. No matter how small it may seem to non-Iraqis or even non-football fans, it's a bright spot in their dark world.

Best of luck to the team.

Posted by Kyer at July 26, 2007 09:38 AM | TrackBack