Iraq FA Cup
|Organising body||Iraq Football Association|
|Number of teams||60 (2016–17)|
|Domestic cup(s)||Iraqi Super Cup|
|International cup(s)||AFC Cup|
|Most successful club(s)||Al-Zawraa
|2016–17 Iraq FA Cup|
The Iraq FA Cup (Arabic: كأس العراق) is an annual knockout football competition in men's domestic Iraqi football. First held in the 1975–76 season, it is organised by and named after the Iraq Football Association. The tournament begins with two rounds played between lower division clubs, twelve of which advance to the Round of 32, where the Iraqi Premier League clubs are entered. The Round of 32 is then followed by the Round of 16, the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the final, with all rounds being single legs (draws are decided by penalties if necessary; extra-time is not played).
There are only two draws made for the tournament; the first draw is for the first two rounds, and the second draw is for the remaining five rounds. Significant focus is given to the lower division clubs who progress furthest, with unlikely victories against Premier League teams being labelled as "giant-killings", although no lower division team has been able to get past the semi-finals. The winners of the competition are awarded a place in the next season's AFC Cup, as well as qualifying for the Iraqi Super Cup where they play against the league champions at the start of the following season (or the league runners-up, if the cup winners have won the double).
After the Iraq Football Association was formed on 8 October 1948, a new tournament was founded by the name of Iraq FA Championship. Six teams from Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul and Basra participated in the competition, where they were split into the North Group and the South Group. The winners of the two groups faced each other in a final match, where Sharikat Naft Al-Basra won 1–0 over Al-Kuliya Al-Askariya. In 1956, a new double-elimination tournament was founded by the name of the Iraq FA Cup Championship. It had two divisions and its entry was restricted to clubs from Baghdad. The championship continued for five seasons until 1961. However, these tournaments were considered as the league championship, even though they were played in a knockout format. It wasn't until the Baghdad Knockout Cup was established in the 1973–74 season that a single-elimination tournament, that was considered as the cup rather than the league, was first played.
Foundation and development
The Iraq FA Cup was established in 1975, open to clubs from all around the nation. Al-Shaab Stadium was chosen by the Iraq FA to host the cup finals as it was able to accommodate the large number of spectators in the capital city. The first club to win the double was Al-Zawraa, winning the 1975–76 Iraqi National League and the 1975–76 Iraq FA Cup. Overall, Al-Zawraa have eight doubles while Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and Al-Rasheed have two and Al-Talaba have one.
In the 1976–77 season, the tournament wasn't held due to scheduling difficulties, and in the 1984–85 season, it was cancelled at the semi-final stage (Al-Rasheed, Al-Tayaran (now known as Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya), Al-Talaba and Al-Tijara were the four remaining teams) to allow the Iraq national team to prepare for their 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, which was the same reason why the 1984–85 Iraqi National League was abandoned. The cup was also not held the following season, but returned for the 1986–87 campaign. It was also cancelled in the 2000–01 season, as the time-consuming qualifying stages of the 2000–01 Iraqi Elite League meant there was not enough time to play the competition.
The 2003 edition of the Iraq FA Cup Final was the first that was not hosted in Al-Shaab Stadium; instead it was hosted in Erbil at the Franso Hariri Stadium for safety reasons. The tournament was not held from 2003 up until 2012 as the Iraq War made it too difficult to schedule all the games and made travelling very difficult for some clubs. The cup finally returned in the 2012–13 season, but was eventually cancelled midway through due to scheduling difficulties with the 2012–13 Iraqi Premier League.
It wasn't held again until the FA decided to hold it in the 2015–16 season. This time, the cup was not abandoned, although a large number of Premier League teams withdrew from the competition. The 2016 Iraq FA Cup Final was the first Iraq FA Cup final held for 13 years, and was played between Baghdad rivals Al-Zawraa and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya with the latter winning 2–0. In the first edition of the tournament, there were 28 teams; by 1996, the number of competing teams had reached 74. In the 2001–02 season, there were 82 teams and in 2012, it was reduced to 40. The current edition of the competition sees 60 teams competing.
Cup runs and giant-killings
Lower division clubs have knocked out Premier League clubs on numerous occasions. In the 1977–78 edition of the cup, the second team of Al-Tayaran (Al-Tayaran B), who played in the Iraq Division One, eliminated Al-Jaish, who finished in fourth place in the 1977–78 Iraqi National League, from the first round of the cup with a 1–0 win. In the same edition, Al-Zawraa were defeated by Division One team Al-Bahri in the quarterfinals, 2–1.
In the 1989–90 edition, Al-Rasheed, who had won the Premier League in each of the past three seasons and the FA Cup in two of the past three seasons, were defeated by Division One club Al-Tijara 3–2 on aggregate in the Round of 16. In the 1992–93 edition, Al-Tijara pulled off another shock by defeating giants Al-Shorta in the first round, 2–1, and they also defeated another top-flight team in Al-Jaish in the Round of 16 with the same result.
In the 2015–16 Iraq FA Cup, Division One club Al-Hussein defeated Al-Zawraa 2–1 in the first leg of the quarter-final, which was a great upset considering the fact that Al-Zawraa won the 2015–16 Iraqi Premier League without losing a single match. However, they couldn't complete the upset in the second leg as they lost 3–1 to Al-Zawraa and were knocked out 4–3 on aggregate. The 2016–17 Iraq FA Cup saw two major upsets in the Round of 32 as Premier League leaders Al-Naft lost 3–2 at home to Division One club Al-Sinaa and Premier League title challengers Al-Shorta fell to a 3–1 defeat at home to Division One club Al-Jaish. No team from outside of Baghdad has ever managed to win the competition, while only four teams have participated in every edition of the tournament from 1975–76 up until 2016–17 (Al-Zawraa, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, Amanat Baghdad and Al-Minaa).
Records and statistics
- Most wins: 15, Al-Zawraa (1976, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2017)
- Most consecutive wins: 4, Al-Zawraa (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996)
- Most appearances in a final: 17, Al-Zawraa (1976, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2016, 2017)
- Most appearances without winning: 5, Al-Shorta (1978, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003)
- Most appearances without losing: 2, Al-Rasheed (1987, 1988)
- Biggest win: 5 goals, Al-Zawraa 5–0 Al-Baladiyat (1976)
- Most goals in a final: 5, Al-Zawraa 5–0 Al-Baladiyat (1976)
- Most goals by a losing side: 1, on 13 occasions
- Most defeats: 6, Al-Talaba (1980, 1981, 1982, 1993, 1994, 1999)
- Biggest win: Al-Jaish 14–0 Babil (12 September 1987)
|Winning team won the Double|
Performance by club
|Club||Wins||Runners-up||Winning seasons||Runner-up seasons|
|Al-Zawraa||15||2||1975–76, 1978–79, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–00, 2016–17||1987–88, 2015–16|
|Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya||4||3||1977–78, 1991–92, 1996–97, 2015–16||1988–89, 1997–98, 1999–00|
|Al-Talaba||2||6||2001–02, 2002–03||1979–80, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1998–99|
|Al-Jaish||2||4||1979–80, 1982–83||1978–79, 1986–87, 1990–91, 1994–95|
|Al-Shorta||0||5||–||1977–78, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2001–02, 2002–03|
|Al-Shabab||0||3||–||1982–83, 1983–84, 1989–90|
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- Al-Munshi', Dhiyaa. Encyclopedia of the Iraqi Football (in Arabic). Baghdad.
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- Hashim, Refel. "Iraq 1977/78". RSSSF.
- Hashim, Refel. "Iraq 1989/90". RSSSF.
- Hashim, Refel. "Iraq 1992/93". RSSSF.