1997–98 Iraqi League
Statistics of Iraqi League in season 1997/1998.
It was performed in 16 teams, and Al-Shorta won the championship.
Final Day Of Season
Going into the final day of the league season on Friday 5 May 1998, there were three contenders for the title, all three of them were from Baghdad. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya were on top of the league with 70 points and +46 goal difference. The eventual champions Al-Shorta were in second, also with 70 points but with +40 goal difference, six less than Jawiya's total. Al-Zawraa were in third with 69 points and +48 goal difference. 1st place team Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya were playing 3rd place team Al-Zawraa at Al Shaab Stadium at the same time as Al-Shorta were playing Al-Salikh (who ended the season in 10th position) at Al-Kashafa Stadium. If Jawiya won against Al-Zawraa, they would be the champions unless Al-Shorta won by a hugely unrealistic scoreline against Al-Salikh. Al Shorta had to beat Al-Salikh and hope that Jawiya did not win against Al-Zawraa in order for them to win the title and Al-Zawraa had to beat Jawiya and hope that Al-Shorta failed to beat Al-Salikh if they wanted to win the league.
Haider Hameed scored on the 21st minute for Al-Shorta to put them in the lead against Al-Salikh and keep their title hopes alive. However, lowly Al-Salikh shocked everybody when Salim Khanjar and Mohammed Ali Abbas each scored in quick succession in the opening half to go 2-1 ahead and severely dent Al-Shorta's hopes of winning their second ever Iraqi Premier League title.
Over at Al-Shaab Stadium, Jawiya had opened the scoring against Al-Zawraa through Razzaq Farhan's close-range finish but Adnan Mohammed's one-on-one finish soon after brought the game to one a-piece. A draw would be enough for Jawiya to win the title if Al-Shorta failed to defeat Al-Salikh.
Al-Shorta attacked and attacked but it was looking more and more unlikely for them to win the title as the clock ticked on as they were still 2-1 behind. But, they then produced one of the most memorable and stunning comebacks in the history of Iraqi football, shocking fans, pundits and players alike all over the country. It was the 84th minute and Al-Shorta only had six minutes of normal time left to score two goals. They managed to get one in the 84th minute when a header was tipped onto the crossbar by Al-Salikh's goalkeeper and Al Shorta's Iraqi player Mafeed Assem managed to poke the ball home. The goalie did manage to parry the ball away but the ball had already crossed the line and it was 2-2. But a 2-2 draw was not enough for Al-Shorta, they still needed another goal from somewhere.
At Al-Shaab, Jawiya's crucial game with Al Zawraa had ended at 1-1, ending Al-Zawraa's hopes of winning the league, and false news filtered through the stadium that Al Shorta had drawn their game 2-2 when of course the game was not over. In what was a comedic but unfortunate moment for Al Quwa Al Jawiya's players and staff, they gathered round the centre of the pitch celebrating, believing that they had won the title. Players were on their knees and they even performed a lap of honour in front of the joyous crowd with their manager Ayoub Odisho telling the cameras how happy he was that he had led his side to the title, but all would change for them in a matter of minutes.
Al-Shorta's game was very close to its end. With just a few minutes to go, Al-Salikh went down to ten men due to a horrible foul from behind on an Al-Shorta player as he was bearing down on goal. It was the perfect opportunity for Al-Shorta to throw everybody forward and in the 90th minute, their determination and will to be champions paid off as Al-Salikh's Haider Kadhim gave away a careless penalty by bringing down an opposing player in the box. The league's top scorer, Mahmoud Majeed, was brave enough to step up to take the crucial spot-kick and showed nerves of steel as he coolly sent the 'keeper the wrong way by rolling the ball to the 'keeper's right and sending Al-Shorta's players and fans into ecstasy at Al-Kashafa Stadium. The referee blew the final whistle soon after the goal and Al-Shorta were the champions for the second time in their illustrious history.
The news slowly filtered through at Al-Shaab Stadium that Al-Shorta had won the game late on and won the title and Jawiya's players stopped celebrating and trudged off of the pitch in embarrassment just a week after a 97th-minute goal from Al-Zawraa saw them lose the Iraq FA Cup final. It was another despairing moment for Jawiya but an amazing moment for Al-Shorta whose hard work and determination saw them lift the famous trophy after travelling to Al-Shaab Stadium to collect it.
Al-Shorta ended the season two points ahead of Jawiya and three points ahead of Al-Zawraa (who they would eventually lose 1-0 to in the Iraqi Super Cup almost three weeks later).