Message for Zico: Amjad Kelaf for Brazil game

With the line-up against Japan giving an of Zico’s true intentions of building a new Iraqi team for the future- the Brazilian coach should look to Al-Shurta captain and winger Amjad Kelaf.

Kelaf the son of a former sprinter is originally from the city of Kut and made his debut at the age of just 14. He has played for the Iraq U-17, U-19, Olympic (U-23) and the full national team.

However his last appearance came under Radhi Shanaishel in 2009 and has only two appearances to his name – unlike Samar Saeed who has played 30 times for the national side.

With Iraq to play Brazil in Malmo on October 11, it would be the perfect time for Zico to give the likes of Amjad Kelaf and even Rawez Lawan a run-out against the Samba stars.


Para Zico (‘To Zico’)

The Current State of the Iraq National Team
O estado atual da Seleção do Iraque

In August 2011 after Zico was named coach of the national team, I decided to send a dossier to the Brazilian legend through his media spokesmen Bruno Neves to give him an idea of the state of the team he was taking over.

The 2007 Asian Cup victory in Jakarta witnessed mass celebrations for all Iraqis, from the young to the old, whether living inside of Iraq or abroad. However the team of today, that includes the same group of players is a shadow of that victorious side and has since, continually failed to produce results expected by Asood Al-Rafidain (Leões da Mesopotâmia), getting knocked out by Qatar in Dubai in 2010 World Cup qualifiers and then embarrassing defeats 3-1 to Bahrain and 4-0 to Oman at the 2009 Gulf Cup!

After the Gulf Cup tournament, the worst in Iraq’s football history, the FA appointed local coach Radhi Shnaiashel, a former captain of the Iraqi national team and a popular selection among the Iraqi fans, having led both Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and Al-Zawraa to Iraqi League Championship finals in consecutive seasons amid the financial northern powerhouses of Arbil and Duhok. On his appointment as caretaker manager, Radhi Shanaishel dropped all of the so-called professionals (in the Gulf, the foreign based players are known as professionals or Muhtarifeen) from the team and named a complete new team and drew 0-0 with Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and lost admirably to South Korea in Jeju 2-1.

However on the eve of the 2009 Confederation Cup, the Iraq FA appointed Serbian coach Bora Milutinović, who had no interest in building a team for the future of Iraqi football but had his own personal goal of putting himself in the shop window before the 2010 World Cup for perspective teams. He recalled all of the players to the squad.

Radhi Shanaishel who was Bora’s assistant left the team and Iraq displayed a cowardly performance against the hosts in their first game. An incident in the last minute of the game summed up Bora’s negative approach, Iraq had a chance to put the ball into the South African box (for once) from a free-kick and instead Hawar took it short to Nashat in an attempt to time waste and evidently lost control of the ball and kicked the ball out for a goalkick. Bora played five men in defence against Spain, one of the best teams in the world and lost 1-0 however against New Zealand, the team were outplayed for most of the game and it was the Oceania representatives that looked more like winning. After the draw with New Zealand and having not scored in the three matches in South Africa, Bora trying to put a positive spin on the result to the watching world public or perspective future employers, said he was satisfied with his players even though they had failed to register a win.

There are certain players in the squad that are in control of the team, and are influencing decisions within Al-Montakhab (Seleção). Many people have spoken of this in private but recently it has been common knowledge that there is a disruptive core of players that rule the team to benefit themselves rather than the team, and this was mention by former Iraqi player and coach of Al-Wakra, Adnan Dirjal. These are his shocking comments he made in an interview with Doha based Al-Sharq newspaper on July 16, 2011 with Faisal Salih in München.

What is your assessment of the journey of Iraqi football is taking at this period, compared to the level of Arab national teams, including Qatar .. and what are the prospects for its development, in your opinion?
I think that the state of Iraqi football at this period is not reassuring because what is going on behind the scenes does not serve the Iraqi football in general and football in particular. Especially after tearing the social fabric among the football players and especially, of the top stars and the rivalry has become clear with each other, especially after the Mafia appeared within the team led by some of the stars of this team, which has become a tool of those players… I think that the reason for this lies in the continued moral crisis… Which was one of the outcomes of the players at Al-Karkh club, which was held a few days after the fall of Baghdad and here it was exposed a crisis of ethics, they held a sinister meeting, all the details at the time when they must work to rescue and remove football from the bitter reality… For this I have changed all the sporting concepts of thinking and come to a political point of view after that I felt that the football community has entered a tunnel, and abhorrent sectarianism, players forget that they belong to the players of Iraq and not to a sect or certain nationalism!
What is the solution from your point of view?
I still receive calls from a number of football players and past and present leaders of Iraqi football to lead the national team, but I apologised for that because I alone can not make a comprehensive change in the concepts of football at this time, and in light of the circumstances surrounding Iraqi football. But in the case of my consent, my first goal is to restore the spirit of nationalism in the players and re-store this in order to serve Iraq first and Iraqi football. So I think that Iraqi football needs a big revolution in order to change perceptions that encourage division and segregation. And directing the players to serve Iraq regional and international level and inspire a spirit of tolerance and overcoming the differences between the members of the football family and provide all the ways to restore Iraqi football place and its natural place at Arab, Asian and International level and a create a favourable climate for the development of football.
How do you look to the future of the Iraqi team .. What are the solutions that you believe will play a role in the emergence of a better team than in the past?
Through the closeness and my relationships with the Iraqi team.. I think this team needs a revolution, and other for correction and change .. Especially now that this team is ruled by some of the players who can be described as a Mafia in this team and who control every small and big thing and they have the ability to change any coach that is appointed by the helpless Football Association originally to rein in some of these players. This is reflected by the most of the results of national team after winning the Asian title in 2007. As for the main solutions that I think that will play a positive role in the long term in building a national team capable of carrying the responsibility of defending the Iraqi football and reputation in the international arena is the appointment of a foreign coach …And led by an applied coach.. a very strong personality.. And has the capabilities of high technical level and the training work requirements are all available to him, and no interference in his affairs of any official, whether at government level or at the level of the Football Association!

At the 2009 Gulf Cup, where Iraq were trashed by Bahrain and Oman in historic defeats, Jassim Mohammed Jafar, the Minister of Sports was interviewed by Muscat-based newspaper Al-Sharq on January 9 and when asked if he felt that some of the players were playing for their own personal benefit. He said “I think that this maybe present unfortunately, we feel that there are some players are not performing as required in certain games in order to stabilise their own interests or to obtain a source of livelihood in the professional ranks” and admitted that the ministry did not have the jurisdiction over the punishment of the players and in his own opinion thought that the power and influence of some of the players were stronger than that of the team coach.

Player rebellion against Norway’s Egil Olsen, 1994 and 1998 World Cup coach
Jogadores rebelião contra Egil Olsen da Noruega, 1994 e 1998 World Cup treinador

The Norwegian coach’s health was seen to be a factor after he had recently recovered from a minor back operation, and Iraqi fans had even mocked his old age and complained that he could not see or hear properly however Drillo came out and declared he was fit as ever and was prepared to take part in training himself. The coach objected to the players lack of discipline and time-keeping during training sessions while some of the players failed to adjust to Olsen’s new style of training and tactics. Olsen would individually meet the players daily in the presence of his assistants Ulseth and Rahim Hamed, and spend 15 minutes consulting them about the way to play, and how to move the ball. While some players like Nour Sabri and Jassim Ghulam complained that the coach did not add anything to their game in training stating Olsen’s training sessions were all the same throughout the week. Olsen said about the team and the players in an interview for Iraqi newspaper Kul Al-Iraq published on October 7, 2008 “The Iraqi team could go back to playing a game on the flanks, and the principle use of holding the ball the manner of which we played in our five matches, similar to the old fashion way but I knew they would advance and apply the attacking play that developed a lot in a short period and we needed sufficient time. And the young players were very good on the ball and more intelligent, most of them liked to train with the exception of Younis Mahmoud, who was lazy as he did not apply himself in training exercises as requested, and did not provide what he should have, and use to pretend not to be interested and rest. Jassim Haji and Salam Shaker they were very committed, and Nashat was the best Iraqi player ever, with Karrar Jassim and Mustafa Karim were disciplined on the contrary to Younis Mahmoud. Musafa Karim is a very good player.” In a warm-up match before a 2010 World Cup qualifier against China, Younis was quiet throughout the match and his movement was very heavy. Supposedly the best player on the team was the worst performer. Egil Olsen had waited for the player to show how good a player he was, in the thinking that some top players did not train well but played brilliantly in matches, however he had played like he had tried throughout the week, his level of training was zero. The following evening after the match, the coach had an opportunity to speak to Younis when the player asked if he and some of the other players could go out for dinner in Dubai, the coach agreed but wanted to speak to him about the match with the UAE and said that his performance was unacceptable. Younis said that he was not happy with his performance and that would chance. The Norwegian coaches felt that Younis Mahmoud was not pulling his weight in training and did his best to train as little as possible, unlike a player like Nashat Akram who gave everything in training. Olsen and his assistant Ulseth argued over the selection of Jassim Ghulam against the UAE, Ulseth felt he looked heavy and needed to be benched, but this was rejected by the coach Olsen wanted the player to get a game before the match against China and not to select a young defender in his place. The coaching staff held a meeting to discuss technical matters and the team’s weakness of the team at free-kicks. Olsen debated that the whole team should defend at free-kicks with the forwards coming back to defend. “Does that mean you return Younis Mahmoud back to the defence, just because he maybe a good defender in front of goal, what is this nonsense” Ahmed Jassim said, adding that they needed Younis to be up-front in case of a counter attack. Ulseth explained that world class strikers like Ruud van Nistelrooy and Didier Drogba and also gave an example of Norwegian player Rune Lange, a top scorer in Belgium and Norway who worked within their team and would come back to defend at corners and free-kicks, however the goalkeeping coach said “Yes, but Younis is not coached to play that way.” Olsen was replaced after a 1-1 draw with China in a World Cup qualifier for a favourite of the players, Adnan Hamad. He was a close friend of many of the players, having coached them at youth and Olympic level but the team were knocked out of the World Cup qualifiers by Qatar. The media and players said that Olsen was a bad coach however he is now one of the best coaches in world football with Norway.

The Brawl in Singapore and the Gulf Cup scandal
Luta em Cingapura e no Copa do Golfo escândalo

Hours before a 2007 Asian Cup qualifier against Singapore, several of the players were arguing over the captaincy, that was given to Younis Mahmoud, one of the youngest players in the team. The team lost 2-0 to Singapore, considered as one of the minnows of Asian football, it was like Brazil losing to Venezuela or Bolivia. After the game Nashat Akram was slapped with a six-month suspension and US$2000 fine while Emad Mohammed and Haidar Abdul-Razzaq were both suspended for three months and fined $1,000 US by the Iraq Football Association for their part in brawl over the national team captaincy. The coach looking for a captain after the brawl before the Singapore game recalled two senior players and named them captain. The senior players of Razzaq Farhan and Ahmed Kadhim and the coach were purged by certain members of the squad that wanted to silence the allegations (which no-one has denied are untrue) to rid the team of the coach Akram Salman and the senior players.

It all came to a head at the 2009 Gulf Cup, when Iraq lost to Saudi Arabia 1-0 and were eliminated from the competition having topped the group at the start of the game. Though the defeat was made even more hard to swallow for the loyal Iraqi fans coming from all corners of the globe to support their team in Abu Dhabi, as rumours were circulating around the stadium that there had been a secret agreement between the Saudi Arabia and Iraq, reminiscent of the ‘arrangement’ made between Austria and West Germany deal that sent a talented Algerian team at the World Cup in Spain on a plane home to Algiers in 1982. However the strange thing, was that only one team was told about it, Iraq! The captain of the Iraqi team Ahmed Kadhim confirmed the speculations on the Iraqi satellite channel Al-Baghdadiya, the revelations shocked viewers tuning in. Ahmed Kadhim, a professional with Iranian club Paas told stunned presenter Muwafaq Abdul-Wahib that five hours before the game, the coach Akram Ahmed Salman gave his team talk, and told them that the game plan was organised to end in a draw, and told his players not to attack, but to defend. He added that the players on yellow cards would be replaced in the second half, to prevent them from getting a caution and miss the semi-final though suspension (Younis Mahmoud had done to miss the encounter with the Saudis). Iraq’s key midfielder Nashat Akram, had received the news a day earlier, just before the team’s light training session. The player had been injured in the previous game, and was asked if he would be fit to play in the Saudi game. He replied that his leg still hurt but the coaching staff were not worried and told him that it was ok, because they had agreed with the Saudis that the game would not end in a win for any team but in a draw. News reached the player, that the game would end in a draw, and but they did not know how to prepare for the game. The players made their way down to the pitch, midfielder Haitham Kadhim asked what do I do, attack or defend. Iraq’s sole striker Emad Mohammed asked the same. As the captain walked onto the pitch, he remembered his coach’s words “Do not provoke the Saudi team, I agreed on a draw”. But from the opening minutes it was clear, the Saudis were not aiming for a draw, as they scored a penalty after a dubious decision from Emirate referee Ali Hamad after only ten minutes, Iraq then went down to ten men as defender Haidar Aboudi was shown red. The Iraqis with one or two reserve named in the starting line-up pushed forward, and missed a hat-ful of chances in the second half, while on the bench Nashat Akram had to persuade coach Akram to put him on, in a last ditch attempt to salvage a point for them, but in the end it was not enough. Emad Mohammed was later interviewed by Iraqiya TV, and was asked about the game. “As players we must play for a victory, but this was asked of us, do not play for a win, do not play for a win. The game will end in a draw we were told. That was asked of us, to play for a draw. That was the preparations made by the coach”. When asked, who should be blamed he replied “the coach, the coach is responsible for the defeat, even if there was an agreement, you do not tell the players to play for a draw. You let the players play for a win”. The Saudi players were surprised by the Iraqi players, and they did not have the information to play for a draw. At the final whistle, the Iraqi captain asked assistant coach Rahim Hamed what had happened, and was told that there was an agreement between Hussein Saeed, Akram Salman and the head of the Saudi delegation Prince Sultan bin Fahd, that the game would end in a draw, and that they, the Saudis gave the Iraqi team chances to score in the second half but they did not take them. Saudi strikers Malik Mouath, and Yassir Al-Qahtani were even asked by the Iraqi captain and they said that they had not heard of such a deal. Stories of match-fixing or secret arrangements have been known to happen in football in the Middle East as Iraqi fans know, though nothing at this scale. For decades fans have heard stories of Iraqi players being proposition by rich sheikhs to take it easy on their players in matches at the Gulf Cup, those were the days of Iraqi teams trashing ‘minnows’ such as Oman, Bahrain 5-0 or 6-0. The ripple effect went right to the top of the Iraqi government when an investigation into the defeat was announced by the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. In a press conference in Arbil, coach Akram said “Yes, we played for a tie and hence there is nothing shameful in that” mentioning that he had wanted to avoid playing the hosts UAE and play Oman instead and added that Emad Mohammed and Razzaq Farhan had caused a lot of problems in the camp and had put their interests above everything. After asked why he took off another striker for Emad, he said that the player had not scored for around eight months from the warm-up match against Syria, how would he score in the 30 minutes against Saudi Arabia and said that he should sacrifice a goat or a chicken for God to break the curse. But added “The difficult circumstances which the Iraqi team was preparing in would had affected the technical level of the players one way or another, but this dose not change the responsibility that I should bear as the coach of the Iraqi national team.” On April 17, 2007, the Iraqi Football Association’s fact finding committee which had conducted a two-month long investigation found that Akram Salam Ahmed had done nothing wrong before the game against Saudi Arabia, and that there was no such agreement between the IFA and the Saudi FA to play for a draw. The Iraq FA stated that there had been ‘miscommunication’ between the coach and his players, and also recommended that Akram Salman should be replaced as coach. The three players Ahmed Kadhim, Emad Mohammed and Razzaq Farhan were suspended by the Iraq FA for two years for their part in spreading ‘false allegations’ about the FA President Hussein Saeed, and the national coach Akram Salman.

A wake-up call

Weeks before the 2014 World Cup qualifier with Yemen, the Iraqi team and its players finally showed their true colours, with the bitter infighting and clear influencing by certain senior players evident, as three players were omitted from the squad by the coach Sidka.

However there still seems to be a disruptive influence in the squad, for years people behind the scenes have spoken of this problem but never publicly, however finally with many of these players form and performances deteriorating, it has come to speak out. The main problem is the disruptive influence of the team captain Younis Mahmoud, the hero of Jakarta, who know uses the armband he wears to dictate to his team-mates and influence decisions made in the side even making things difficult for the coaches.

It is no doubt that Younis is a great player, or once was. However he has been frequently injured the past three seasons and was recently let go by his club in Qatar, Al-Gharrafa despite being the top scorer for the club for the past five seasons. This move by his former employers may indicate that the player’s injury problems have worsened over the years and that he is no longer the player he once was, with Iraq had has only scored 7 goals in 41 matches since that victory in Jakarta. It is clear he is not the same player as he once was and is living on past glories and his own name.

To the outside world, Younis Mahmoud is seen as the player who single-handedly united a nation at its worst period with his winning header in the 2007 Asian Cup final in Jakarta, but his lacklustre performances and below-par form since then have only managed to divide the football fans of the war-torn country, to the extent that the supporters have placed the World Cup exit at the hands of Qatar last year and the debacle at the 2009 Gulf Cup in Muscat firmly on the heads of public enemy No.1, Younis and his squabbling fellow professionals. The team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Qatar in Dubai in the crucial World Cup qualifier led many fans to make the allegation that the Qatari-based players had taken bribes from their employers to lose or had thrown the match out of the fear of losing their lucrative contracts. Whatever the reason was, many Iraqi fans felt that the players had sold out their country, and went as far as to label them national traitors. After the Gulf Cup group stage exit, the IFA’s scapegoat was once again the coach, Brazilian Jorvan Vieira, in his second spell in charge of the team. As was Egil Olsen, Iraq’s coach at the start of their 2010 World Cup campaign. He complained on numerous occasions of Younis failing to apply himself during training and being absent for tactical team talks (deciding instead that being interviewed by a TV crew was more important) while his assistant Otto Ulseth stated that the player’s tracksuit always had a whiff of cigarette smoke and was known to arrive back from a night out with fellow team-mates in the early hours of the morning while the team were in training and on a curfew. Olsen also suggested naming a new captain in place of Younis before the Norwegian was ceremonially sacked.

In a recent interview with Hassan Ayal on Al-Iraqiya Al-Riyadhi on July 21, 2011, Emad Mohammed, a player who has played for Iraq since 2001, said that the problem that led to his retirement only occurred when Younis spoke in front of the coaches inside the stadium, telling the whole squad that he would bring in and take out a player on his own choosing, if anyone of them did not agree he would expel them from the team. Emad replied that he should not talk this way because the whole players were in a team. “Try it and you will see, if I will expel you or not”, was Younis’ reply to Emad.

Emad announced his international retirement and the player declared that the main reason was the dictatorship rule exercised by the team captain Younis Mahmoud, saying that he dealt with his fellow colleagues with selfishness, vanity and arrogance and a air of superiority and had the supreme authority that none could limit, neither the coach, nor the team manager or even the new FA can put an end to the practices of the player over the years, making orders as if he was solely and lastly responsible for the team. He refused to reverse his decision and demanded a purge of the national team declaring “We need a revolution to change and we need to lead with clean hands in the next phase, and we need a leader ideally to be a role model for the youth and the future talents, not one that treats colleagues in a non-moral way and we need a management to treat everyone fairly away from the names and sizes and we need straight coaches given the opportunity to anyone who is better.”


– There needs to be no interference from FA officials or any assistant, goalkeeping coach or any person working on the backroom staff.
– No player should conduct interviews with the media at the time of an important game, both prior or after the match.
– After the 2003 War, the Iraqi team has witnessed a lack of discipline within the ranks, both on and off the field. Players should be suspended, fined or dropped from the team for failing to arrive on time to training or any team meetings. There should be a zero tolerance to in-discipline in the team.
– A media spokesman should be appointed by the FA.
– A new captain should be named.
– A new team should be formed, with the best players selected, not the biggest names. Captain and Striker Younis Mahmoud has only scored 7 goals in 41 games for Iraq since the 2007 Asian Cup final!!!!
– The new coach should display authority and strong personality towards the players.
– The coach must make the squad selections and not the Football Association.
– There should be a close relationship between the Olympic coach, the local club coaches and the national team to find the best players in Iraq.

New Players and European based professionals Al-Mughtrabeen or expatriates
Os jogadores novos e profissionais europeus com base Al-Mughtrabeen ou expatriados

The Seleção is in need of new blood, the same group of players having been playing since 2004 and their performances after 2007 has dropped, and people have used the argument that local players are not up to the level to play international football however time and time again, results have shown that the team needs a change in personnel. The Olympic team has several young players that can replace the current players such as Jalal Hassan, Ahmed Ibrahim, Nadim Karim while the Iraqi league has many talented players like Alaa Qataa, Dhargham Ismail, Haidar Sabah, Ahmed Hussein and Amjad Kelaf. Since 2003, the Football Association through a technical committee has selected the players from the Iraqi league, this needs to change with the national coach selecting the players from the Iraqi league to select the best players.

The idea of selecting Iraqi players based in Europe has been spoken about among the media and fans alike over the years however it was only after a group of Iraqi fans met up with coach Wolfgang Sidka in late 2010 that it finally came about and the German coach selected nine European based players of Iraqi origin, for a training camp in Arbil. However after one week Assad Al-Saadi, who had worked in bringing the players to Iraq from Germany, announced to the media that Sidka would not include the European players for the time being. According to Al-Saadi, it became clear from day to day at the training camp in Arbil that Sidka’s selection of the players was merely a publicity stunt. An unnamed source from the national team camp stated that some of the regular members of the team had influence on the decisions on the management of the team and which players would be selected. The regular players despite Basim Abbas having invited the new European based players on a night out in Arbil to a restaurant, shunned the newcomers at training and at the team hotel making the players feel unwanted, something that had been noticed by the coach Sidka. At training, the new players were in their own group while the others were in their group. The inner circle of players, mainly made up of players that had won the 2007 Asian Cup, had significant sway in the national side and there were rumours that many of the wealthy Gulf based professionals paid hotels bills and bought plane tickets for the FA, picked up bills at training camps abroad and even purchased gifts for FA officials, making it impossible for a player to be dropped from the team. However the allegations were dismissed by Abdul-Karim Naam and Younis Mahmoud, stating that everything was good between the players while Sidka commented that the 10 days period had finished and that the players had to return to their clubs but would be recalled in the future. Only Osama Rashid made his debut for Iraq in a friendly against Jordan, and is still awaiting clearance from FIFA to play in the World Cup qualifiers. There are currently a handful of Iraqi players plying their trade in the top levels of European football, including Jiloan Hamad, a player that has played for Sweden in 2010 but has not played in an official match for Sweden’s national side and is still able to play for Iraq.

Iraqi Players in the First or Second Division in Europe
Os jogadores iraquianos na Primeira Divisão ou segundo lugar na Europa


Osama Rashid (b. 13.1.1992 in Kirkuk) – Midfield
Noord Hollandse ZOB 1998-1999
Feyenoord Rotterdam 1999-2011
FC Den Bosch 2011

Anmar Faris Al-Mubaraki (b.1.7.1991 in Basra) – Midfield/Forward
Hulzense Boys 1996-2003
FC Twente Enschede 2003-2010
Heracles Almelo 2010-2011


Ali Ahmadi Murad (b.13.3.1992 in Malmö) – Midfield
MABI – Malmö Anadolu BI 2004-2005
Rörsjöstaden IF 2005-2008
Malmö City FC 2008-2009
Reggina Calcio (ITA) 2009-2011


Jiloan Hamad (6.11.90 in Baku) – Midfield
BK Forward 2007-2008
Malmö FF 2008-2011

Seif Kadhim Husayn (b. 7.2.1991) – Midfield
Ersboda SK 2000-2008
Örgyte IS 2008-2011
Norrby IF 2010-2011
Syrianska IF Kerburan 2011-

Ahmed Yasin (b. 22.4.1991 in Baghdad) – Midfield
BK Forward 2005-2010
Örebro SK 2010-2011

Zeyn Alabidyn S-Latef (b.22.7.1990 in Västervik) – Midfield/Forward
Kävlinge GIF 1996-1997
Helsingborgs IF 1997-2002
TS Olimpia Poznań (POL) 2002-2004
Feyenoord Rottardam (NED) 2004-2005
Helsingborgs IF 2005-2008
Sheffield United FC (ENG) 2008-2010
Sandnes Ulf (NOR) 2010-2011
Syrianska IF Kerburan 2011-

Andreas Haddad (b.5.5.82 in Stockholm) – Forward – 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)
AIK Solna 1989-2000
Spårvägen FF 2000-2001
Assyriska FF 2001-2005
Lillestrøm SK (NOR) 2005-2006
Assyriska FF 2006-2007
Vejle Boldklub (DEN) 2007-2008
Qviding FIF 2009-2010
Al-Arouba (OMN) 2010
Assyriska FF 2010-2011
Örebro SK 2011-


David Haider Kamm Al-Azzawe (b.5.6.1992) – Defender
Hallescher FC 2008-2011

Hüsseyin Osman (b.10.4.1992 in Mosul) – Defender
Eintracht Frankfurt 2002-2011


Rawez Lawan (b. 4.10.1987 in Malmö) – Attacking Midfielder/Forward
Kvarnby IK 1999-2003
Malmö FF 2003-2006
AC Horsens (DEN) 2006-2009
FC Nordsjælland (DEN) 2009-2011


Shwan Jalal (b.14.8.1983 in Baghdad) – Goalkeeper
Gillingham FC 1998-1999
Hastings Town FC 1999-2001
Tottenham Hotspurs FC 2001-2004
Woking FC (Loan) 2002-2003
Woking FC 2004-2007
Sheffield Wednesday 2006
Peterborough United 2007-2008
Morecambe (Loan) 2008
AFC Bournemouth 2008-2011

Yaser Kasim (b.10.5.1991 in Baghdad) – Midfielder
Tottenham Hotspurs FC 2007-2010
Brighton & Hove Albion 2010-2011

A team in decline
Uma seleção em declínio

Results Since 2007 Asian Cup
Resultados após 2007 Copa da Ásia

Coach P W D L F A

Egil Olsen 6 2 3 1 12 5
Adnan Hamad 8 2 1 5 5 9
Jorvan Vieira 4 0 2 2 4 10
Radhi Shanaishel 2 0 1 1 1 2
Bora Milutinović 5 0 3 2 1 3
Nadhim Shaker 4 4 0 0 9 0
Wolfgang Sidka 27 12 6 9 33 28
Total 56 20 16 20 65 57


Jorvan Vieira 2 0 1 1 2 3
Radhi Shanaishel 1 0 1 0 1 1
Bora Milutinović 1 1 0 0 2 1
Wolfgang Sidka 4 2 1 1 6 3
Total 8 3 3 2 11 8

The Zico Revolution

When Zico made a post match press statement that he had dissolved the national team after the Arab Cup in Riyadh, he was not joking.

The Iraqi Football Association claimed that his statements were taken out of context and that he did not have the powers to dismantle the national side however against Japan, Zico made 10 changes to the side that played in the last group matches against Jordan and Oman, with only Muthanna Khalid starting in Saitama. The world press noted that Zico had been forced to make changes because of suspensions and injuries to key players however no player was suspended while only Salam Shaker, Basim Abbas and Mustafa Karim were out injured and it looks like the only player that would have made it from the three would have been Salam Shaker, who Zico chose as captain during the Arab Cup.

Zico had kept faith with the core of the 2007 Asian Cup side when he took over in August last year and the same group of players helped guide Iraq through the first group stage but two lacklustre performances against Jordan and Oman in the opening matches of the second group stage were the last straw and Galinho has decided to make drastic changes to the team. The Brazilian coach was unimpressed with many of his senior players not playing for any clubs, which was one of the reasons for Hawar Mulla Mohammed being dropped. Hawar had been without a club from January 6, 2012 after he announced he had left Zob Ahan due to problems with the club. He had played only 12 league matches during the 2011-2012 season, scoring one goal and out of those matches had only started half of those matches and had played only 412 minutes during the season, the last on December 12, 2011. He has still to play for his new club Arbil, who he recently signed for and his only matches in 2012 so far have been for Iraq.

Fans have long been calling for wholesome changes to the Asood Al-Rafidain line-up, with many of the aging star players underperforming for several years. The previous coach German Wolfgang Sidka attempted to inject new blood into the side and even spoke of dropping players such as Basim Abbas, Hawar, Emad and Nashat. But after his contract was not renewed in the summer of 2011, the German stated in the press that officials in the FA warned him of the backlash from the section of the fans if a popular member of the team was dropped! Zico had the same group of players but after 12 months in the job, he has decided to dismantle the group of players that have been the backbone of the national side since 2004.

Zico named a complete new team for the clash in Saitama with new caps Walid Salim and Ali Bahjat in defence while Khaldoun Ibrahim started a match for Iraq for over three years. Ahmed Yasin – now seen by Zico as the future of Iraqi football – was given his first taste of competitive football and shone on the left flank. The two top goalscorers in the Iraqi league, Hamadi Ahmed and Amjad Radhi were also given starts ahead of Karrar, Nashat and Younis.

To illustrate how inexperienced the side Zico put against the current Asian Cup champions was. The eleven players that started the match had a total of 221 caps between team (156 of those were from only three players the team captain Nour Sabri, Muthanna Khalid and Alaa Abdul-Zahra). While on the bench five players Nashat, Younis, Ali Rahema, Qusai, Karrar and Kasid had a total of 495 caps.

It now seems that after the drama during the summer over his unpaid salary, the Brazilian has taken full reins of the national team and the team selection and for Iraq the Zico revolution has finally begun.

Japan 1-0 Iraq

11/09/2011, Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama
JAPAN 1-1 IRAQ [HT 1-0]
SCORERS: Ryoichi Maeda 25′ (1-0)

JAPAN: 1 Eiji Kawashima; 3 Yuichi Komano, 5 Yuto Nagatomo, 22 Maya Yoshida, 2 Masahiko Inoha; 17 Makoto Hasebe [c], 7 Yasuhito Endo, 4 Keisuke Honda; 9 Shinji Okazaki, 8 Hiroshi Kiyotake (13 Hajime Hosogai 89′), 18 Ryoichi Maeda (11 Mike Havenaar 90′).
COACH: Alberto Zaccheroni (Italy)

IRAQ: (4-5-1)
[22] Nour Sabri [c] [Al-Naft] [70/0]
[2] Ahmed Ibrahim [Arbil] [14/0]
[3] Ali Bahjat [Duhok] [1/0]
[23] Walid Salim [Al-Kahraba] [1/0]
[19] Hussam Kadhim [Al-Naft] [11/0]
[20] Muthanna Khalid [Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya] [35/0]
[14] Khaldoun Ibrahim [Nadi Baghdad] [18/0]
[9] Ahmed Yasin [Örebro SK-SWE] [5/0]
[13] >78′ Karrar Jassim [Ajman-UAE] [54/5]
[17] Alaa Abdul-Zahra [Nadi Qatar-QAT] [54/11]
[5] >75′ Nashat Akram [Al-Nasr-UAE] [109/17]
[7] Hamadi Ahmed [Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya] [8/0]
[11] Amjad Radhi [Arbil] [15/0]
[10] >64′ Younis Mahmoud [Al-Wakra-QAT] [106/41]
COACH: “Zico” Arthur Antunes Coimbra (Brazil)

Referee: Abdul Malik Bin Abdul Bashir (Singapore)
Linesmen: Jeffrey Goh Gek Pheng (Singapore) & Yew Mun Tang (Singapore)
Fourth Official: Thiam Leow Hoe (Singapore)
Cautions: None.
Note: On the bench were 1 Jalal Hassan, 4 Qusai Munir, 5 Nashat Akram, 6 Ali Abdul-Jabar, 8 Osama Rashid, 10 Younis Mahmoud, 12 Mohammed Kasid, 13 Karrar Jassim, 15 Ali Hussein Rahema, 16 Samal Saeed, 18 Hussam Ibrahim, 21 Abbas Hussein Rahema.