Iraq national football team
|Nickname(s)||Lions of Mesopotamia
Usood Al-Rafidain (اسود الرافدين)
|Association||Iraq Football Association|
|Sub-confederation||WAFF (West Asia)|
|Head coach||Vladimir Petrović|
|Asst coach||Basil Gorgis|
|Most caps||Hussein Saeed (126)|
|Top scorer||Hussein Saeed (61)|
|Home stadium||Al Shaab Stadium (Baghdad)|
|FIFA ranking||98 -1|
|Highest FIFA ranking||36 (October 2004)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||139 (July 1996)|
|Elo ranking||59 -4|
|Highest Elo ranking||24 (December 1982)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||86 (February 2006)|
| Morocco 3–3 Iraq
(Beirut, Lebanon; October 19, 1957)
| Iraq 10-1 Bahrain
(Baghdad, Iraq; April 5, 1966)
| Brazil 6–0 Iraq
(Malmö, Sweden; October 11, 2012)
|Appearances||1 (First in 1986)|
|Best result||Round 1, 1986|
|Appearances||7 (First in 1972)|
|Best result||Champions, 2007|
|Appearances||1 (First in 2009)|
|Best result||Round 1, 2009|
The Iraqi national football team (Arabic: منتخب العراق لكرة القدم) represents Iraq in international football since 1948 and It is governed by the Iraq Football Association (IFA). 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, Arabic: اسود الرافدين) which literally meaning Lions of Mesopotamia.
Iraq is one of the most successful national teams in the Arab League, having a record won of a total of four Arab Nations Cup (1964, 1966, 1985, 1988). On the Asian level Iraq is one of the powerhouses having won the AFC Asian Cup once (2007), the Gold Medal of the Asian Games (1982), Three Gulf Cups of Nations (1979, 1984, 1988), and West Asia Championship (2002).
Iraq have been awarded the AFC National Team of the Year award two times (2004 and 2007), being the only team from West Asia to win this award.
Early Years - The Golden Generation
Iraqi football reached a peak in the 1970s and 1980s – Iraq qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and 3 times for the Olympic Games in Moscow, Los Angeles and Seoul. Iraq also won the 1982 Asian Games, the Arab Nations Cup 4 times in a row, the Gulf Cup of Nations 3 times, and the 1985 Pan Arab Games fielding a B team. Iraq finished in 4th place in the 1976 AFC Asian Cup – the last Asian Cup Iraq would participate in until 1996.
Iraq at FIFA World Cup Mexico 1986
Iraq qualified to the 1986 FIFA World Cup and had played all their home matches in the qualifications on neutral ground.
|4 June 1986
|Paraguay||1 – 0||Iraq||Estadio Nemesio Díez, Toluca
Referee: Edwin Picon-Ackong (Mauritius)
|8 June 1986
|Iraq||1 – 2||Belgium||Estadio Nemesio Díez, Toluca
Referee: Jesús Díaz (Colombia)
|Radhi 59'||Report||Scifo 16'
Claesen 19' (pen.)
|11 June 1986
|Iraq||0 – 1||Mexico||Estadio Azteca, Mexico City
Referee: Zoran Petrović (Yugoslavia)
The 90's - The Dark era
During the rule of the government of Saddam Hussein, Saddam's son, Uday Hussein, was in charge of the Iraqi Olympic Committee and, by extension, the national football team. Under Uday's leadership, motivational lectures to the team included threats to cut off players' legs, while missing practice sessions would lead to a term in prison. A loss brought flogging with electric cable, or a bath in raw sewage. After the Gulf War, Iraq was banned from participating in the Asian Games and in most Arab competitions. In 1996 Iraq was ranked 139th in the world, the worst FIFA ranking in Iraqi football history.
2007 AFC Asian Cup
The AFC Asian Cup 2007 Final was a football match that took place on 29 July 2007 at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, to determine the winner of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. Iraq defeated Saudi Arabia 1–0 with a goal from Younis Mahmoud.
This victory secured Iraq's first Asian Cup title. As the winner, Iraq represented the AFC at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
On May 26, 2008, FIFA provisionally suspended the Iraq Football Association from competition for one year, following a decision by the Iraqi government to disband the country's national sports federations. However the decision was overturned by FIFA on May 29, 2008, since the Iraqi government reversed its earlier decision in dissolving the Iraq Football Association. Again, on November 20, 2009, FIFA decided to suspend the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) due to governmental interference. This was later lifted in March 2010 as the Iraqi National Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee had helped restore the IFA's "full authority.
2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
Iraq were seeded into the first round of qualifiers where they faced Pakistan in a bid to qualify directly for the third round of qualifiers. On 22 October 2007 Iraq defeated Pakistan 7–0 in Lahore. Iraq drew 0–0 with Pakistan on 28 October. Iraq won 7–0 on aggregate and advanced to the third round.
Fixtures started in February 2008. Iraq drew 1–1 with China at the Al-Rashid Stadium in Dubai.
In the second group game, Iraq lost 2–0 to Qatar with Montezine scoring 2 goals. In their 3rd out of 6 qualifiers on Sunday, 1 June, Australia beat Iraq at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 1–0, with a headed goal from Harry Kewell proving the difference between the two teams early in the 2nd half of play.
In the return match in Dubai, Iraq defeated Australia 1–0 through a wonder strike from Emad Mohammed. After beating China 2–1 on 14 June in Tianjin, Iraq went into their final match against Qatar needing only a point to progress.
2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
As a result of winning the 2007 Asian Cup, Iraq qualified for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, that took place in South Africa in June 2009, in which matches that were scheduled against the hosts, Spain, and New Zealand. In the opener, Iraq was able to hold South Africa to a 0–0 draw. And only lost to Spain 1–0 and was 0–0 at half-time. Though Spain defeated South Africa 2–0 which was necessary for Iraq to advance to the next stage, needing to beat New Zealand by 2 goals, but only tied 0–0.
2011 AFC Asian Cup
Iraq qualified automatically for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. They were drawn against Iran, North Korea and United Arab Emirates in Group D. After a 2–1 loss against Iran, and 1–0 win against United Arab Emirates, Iraq went into the match against North Korea needing only a draw to progress. Iraq won 1–0 and advanced to the quarterfinals as runners-up. On 23 January, Iraq lost to Australia, 1–0, in the quarterfinal. The match went into extra time with Harry Kewell heading in a goal in the 117th minute just inside the 18-yard box.
2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
Under coach Wolfgang Sidka, Iraq were drawn into the second round of qualifiers where they faced Yemen. Iraq defeated Yemen 2–0 in Arbil on 23 July before drawing 0–0 in Al Ain five days later. Iraq advanced to the third round of qualifiers where they were grouped with Jordan, China and Singapore. The top two teams from the group progressed to the fourth round.
The Iraq Football Association (IFA) has announced it won't be renewing the contract of national team boss Wolfgang Sidka on 2 Augustus 2011. On 29 Augustus 2011, Brazilian legend Zico has signed a one-year contract to become the new coach of Iraq.
On the first matchday, two goals from Hassan Abdel-Fattah and Abdallah Deeb saw Jordan defeat Iraq 2–0 at the Franso Hariri Stadium in Arbil. Four days later, Iraq defeated Singapore 2–0 on September 6, with goals from Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Younis Mahmoud
On 11 October, Iraq beat China 1–0 with a goal scored by Younis Mahmoud at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center in China. Iraq then hosted China in Doha on 11 November, Younis Mahmoud scored the winning goal in the 90+2 min
In November 15, 2011 Jordan hosted Iraq at the Amman International Stadium in Amman. After 17 minutes Jordan took the lead by Hassan Abdel-Fattah, 38 minutes later Iraq equalized the scoreline by a goal of Nashat Akram. Iraq then took the lead when Qusay Munir scored and finished it with a beautiful goal of Nashat Akram, which led Iraq through to the fourth round. On February 29 of 2012, Iraq defeated Singapore 7–1, topping Group A with 15 points, with Jordan coming in second with 12 points. They made it for the first time since 2001 to the fourth and final qualifying round.
In the final qualification stage, Iraq was drawn with Jordan, Japan Australia and Oman. Iraq started with a 1-1 draw against Jordan away. This followed with a 1-1 draw with Oman at home, with a Younis Mahmoud penalty earning a point. After their slow start, Iraq lost 1-0 to Japan away, leaving them fourth from fifth in the group with only 2 points in 3 games. Iraq lost a crucial match against Australia 2-1 with late goals to Tim Cahill and Archie Thompson, despite leading in the 72th minute 1-0, moving them into bottom position with 2 points.
On 14 November 2012, Iraq won 1-0 against Jordan in Doha. With time running out. a desperate Iraq gave their all in the final 30 minutes, but the Jordanian goalkeeper Amer Shafi, too, was equal to the task, pulling off three saves to deny powerful efforts on goal. But Shafi could do nothing four minutes from time when Ahmed cracked home a left-footer from outside the penalty area. The team’s first win elevated them to third in Group B, behind Australia on goal difference and ahead of Oman.
On 28 November 2012, Zico resigned as head coach, after little more than a year in the post, saying the country’s football association had failed to fulfill the terms of his contract. The Iraqi FA appointed Vladimir Petrović as head coach of Iraq on 25 February 2013
2015 AFC Asian Cup
Iraq are in the AFC Asian Cup qualifying group alongside Saudi Arabia, China PR and Indonesia.
Al Shaab Stadium (Arabic: ملعب الشعب) also known as The People's Stadium, is a multi-purpose stadium in Baghdad, Iraq. It is used mostly for football (soccer) matches and is the home of the Iraq national football team. The stadium has seating for 45,000 fans. It was built in 1966. The opening match featured Iraq and Benfica, for whom Eusébio was playing.
Inability to host matches
Iraq played their home games on neutral territory in the 1980s due to the Iraq-Iran 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, 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.
Resumption of home fixtures
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 on Iraq. Iraq resumed playing on home soil on July 10, 2009, winning a friendly 3–0 against Palestine in Franso Hariri Stadium, Arbil. 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. The same month, the AFC Executive Committee approved the stadium at Arbil as a venue for matches involving the Iraqi national team, and clubs in continental tournaments.
On September 2, 2011, Iraq played their first 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 Arbil.
On March 26, 2013, Iraq played their first International friendly match in Baghdad since 2009 against Syria in front of a crowd of 50,000+ people in the Al-Shaab Stadium in Baghdad. The Iraqi fans chanted for Syria, thanking them for their support to help Iraq to left the ban on playing in Baghdad.
Future of Iraq
The construction of Basra Sports City was started on 15 July 2009 and expected to be completed in early 2013. The city is being funded by the government of Iraq with a budget spending of $550 million dollars, contributed to contain main stadium with capacity of 65,000 people, secondary stadium with capacity of 20,000, four Five Stars hotels and other sports related facilities. The contract of this project was given to Abdullah Al-Jaburi, a major Iraqi construction contractor, two American companies, 360 architecture and Newport Global. The project is expected to be one of the largest sports complexes in the Middle East.
This project was supposed to host the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations that was going to be held in Iraq, but after security purposes the tournament host was moved to Bahrain. However, it is expected to host the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations.
Iraq national team supporters are known for chanting "O Victorious Baghdad" for Iraqi teams matches.
Always remains High, O Victorious Baghdad, (تضلي دايما فوق، منصورة يا بغداد)
And to see your eternal Glory, O Victorious Baghdad. (ونشوف عزج دوم، منصورة يا بغداد)
O Victorious Baghdad, O Victorious Baghdad, (منصورة يا بغداد، منصورة يا بغداد)
Another famous chant is "هسه يجي الثاني" which literally translates into "the second goal is coming" this is usually being chanted repeatedly after Iraq scores a goal to motivate the players to score another.
The Iraqi National Team home kit is all white with green trim, the away kit is all green with white trim. The goalkeeper jersey is green with black trim and an Iraq flag coming down from the shoulder to the arm.
In world cup 1986, the Iraq kit were all yellow with black trim and the change kit was light blue with white trim.
The Iraqi National Football team has previously been sponsored by brands such as Adidas, Puma, Nike, Diadora, Jako, Jack & Jones, Lotto, Umbro and its current sponsor Peak.
|2004-2005||Jack & Jones|
FIFA World Cup record
FIFA Confederations Cup
- Since 1992, the Olympic team has been drawn from a squad with a maximum of three players over 23 years of age, and the achievements of this team are not generally regarded as part of the national team's records, nor are the statistics credited to the players' international records.
Major Asian tournaments
AFC Asian Cup record
Asian Games record
- Since 1994, the Olympic team has been drawn from a squad with a maximum of three players over 23 years of age, and the achievements of this team are not generally regarded as part of the national team's records, nor are the statistics credited to the players' international records.
1 Iraq was banned from the competition from 1991 to 2002 due to the Gulf War.
Regional Asian tournaments
Gulf Cup of Nations record
1 Iraq was banned from the competition from 1991 to 2003 due to the Gulf War.
West Asian Games record
Arab Nations Cup record
1 Iraq was banned from the competition from 1991 to 2002 due to the Gulf War.
Pan Arab Games record
Noticeable International friendly tournaments record
|1972||Palestine Cup||2nd Place||5||3||1||1||9||4|
|1975||Palestine Cup||2nd Place||4||3||1||1||10||2|
|1977||Merdeka Cup||2nd Place||7||3||3||1||11||2|
|1978||Merdeka Cup||2nd Place||8||5||1||2||12||6|
|1989||Friendship and Peace Cup||Winner||5||3||1||1||9||5|
|1992||Jordan International Cup||2nd Place||5||4||0||1||20||2|
|2003||LG Cup||2nd Place||2||1||0||1||3||5|
|2003||Bahrain International Cup||2nd Place||3||1||1||1||4||4|
|2007||King's Cup||2nd Place||4||2||0||2||5||4|
|2008||Norway Four Nations Cup||Winner||3||2||1||0||3||1|
|2009||UAE International Cup||Winner||2||2||0||0||2||0|
Records versus other nations
Iraq rivalry with Kuwait is considered as the Arab world's greatest football rivalry of all time. The rivalry began since mid 70's 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 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 despite Iraq's absence in the first three editions and withdrawn in two others, Iraq won it three times (1979, 1984, 1988).
Iraq and Kuwait took their increasingly bitter rivalry to a new level. On June 11, 1976, the two met in the semi-final of the Asian Cup in Tehran; Kuwait took the lead twice, Iraq came roaring back twice, And then, in the 10th minute of extra time, Kamel scored the winner for Kuwait. In 1979, the year Iraq clinched their first Gulf Cup and won over Kuwait 3-1, the two met in a qualifier for the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games, both managed to qualify to the Olympic Games, and both made it to the quarter-finals in Moscow. Iraq also qualified for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and 1988 Games in Seoul. The 1982 Asian Games was won as well. 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.
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. Kuwait's Blues had a relative recovery of sorts, winning the Gulf Cup in 1996 and 1998, before securing their record 10th 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, the Lions of Mesopotamia winning the 2007 Asian Cup.
Recent results and fixtures
Win Draw Loss
Current technical staff
|Head coach||Vladimir Petrović|
|Assistant coach||Basil Gorgis|
|Goalkeeping coach||Abdul-Karim Naaim|
|Fitness coach||Sardar Mohammed|
|Team doctor||Qasim Mohammed|
|Team Manager||Laith Hussein|
- The following 20 players were called up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification:
- Match Date: 18 June 2013.
- Opposition: Australia.
- Caps and goals are correct as of June 18, 2013 match against Australia.
- The following players have also been called up to Iraqi squad for the last 6 months.
Caps, Goalscorers and Captains record
Top 10 Goalscorers
Captains of Iraqi National Football Team by Starting Year
The team has had 70 coaches, of whom 50 have been Iraqi
Notes and references