Karbala coach passes away

Karbala have announced that club coach Mohammed Abbas Al-Jabouri has passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning. The coach had been in a coma for the past week after being attacked by Iraqi SWAT team on the afternoon of Sunday, June 23, and was pronounced clinically dead by the club, a day after the brutal and unprovoked attack.

The Karbala club chairman Mohammed Nassir confirmed that the doctors had pronounced the coach as clinically dead after suffering internal bleeding and 13 fractures to his skull after the attack. The club also confirmed on Tuesday, that seven members of the SWAT Team who had attacked the club’s players and the coach had been arrested.

Club official Ahmed Haddam mentioned that Mohammed Daami, a member of the Ministry of Youth and Sports had visited the coach at the Al-Hussein General Hospital in Karbala and pledged to form an investigative committee to look into the case. The club management filed a lawsuit against the security forces noting that the case file reached the Judicial Department and would be decided upon during the next few days.

The altercation between the Iraqi Special Forces and the 48 year-old coach at the end of Karbala’s league game with Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, a game the home side lost 4-2, and occured at the entrance of the Karbala stadium after he came to the defence of one of his players, Maitham Hamza.

The Iraqi forces asked the player to leave the area and then a quarrel erupted between them, with the members of the SWAT team beating the player, injuring his shoulder. The Karbala captain Mushtaq Salal rushed to his team-mates aide, but was also beaten.

A crowd began to gather made up of Karbala club officials and various others, to try and solve the problem. The coach of the side, Mohammed Abbas, who had seen the incident, came to the defence of his players and said that the players and team management had been humiliated and beaten by the security forces.

He calmly began to speak to the SWAT team and asked them for the reason for beating his players but was attacked and beaten on his head, witnesses mentioned that he was beaten as if he was ‘a terrorist.’

He eventually lost consciousness and lay motionless on the ground after the beating, and despite calls from people to the forces to phone for an ambulance or take him to hospital, there was no response from the SWAT team.

They continued their assault on Karbala club secretary Ahmed Hadam and players Haidar Jabar, Jassim Mohammed and Mohammed Khalid outside the walls of the club stadium.

Mohammed Abbas Al-Jabouri, or Abu Sumaya, as he was known, had returned to his home city of Karbala two seasons ago, working as an assistant to former club coach Haidar Yahya. He had played for Karbala in the 1980s and the early 90s, before leaving Iraq in 1993 and settling with his family in the Netherlands. On May 26, this year, he was appointed head coach of the Karbala club. He had previously coached several youth and junior teams at DVV in the city of Duiven, where his son is a youth player.

There could be major repercussions after the death of the coach, with the Iraq FA having appealed to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to investigate the incident, while several Iraqi clubs have suspended their activities and many have withdrawn from this weeks league matches in the Iraqi league.

The head of the club, Mohammed Nassir, in an interview to Mada Press, said “What the coach Mohammed Abbas suffered at the hands of security forces (SWAT), is a clear crime and committed in public, adding that he was assaulted, although he was a symbol of the Iraqi sport and had a long history of achievements and raise the name of Iraq in many international forums, and that he was a human being and an Iraqi.

Nassir added, “We found overwhelming evidence that the security forces in Iraq, do not know the definition of the law and how to apply it as they do not know how to deal with citizens”, accusing the leaders of the forces as “do not possess the skills and estimate how to handle and contain.”

The president of the club, stated “The members of the SWAT forces displayed disregard and lack of respect for basic human rights that has brought us to where we are now,” he said, adding that “Karbala Sports Club had suspended its activities and its involvement in the Iraqi league.”


Iraq youth will open doors but may have to answer questions

Another victory for the Iraq youth team in Antalya, with Chile this time dispatched with goals from Mahdi Kamil and Saif Salman. The way the team has performed at the FIFA World Youth Cup will surely open doors for the likes of Mohammed Hamed, Ali Adnan, Humam Tariq and Mohanad Abdul-Rahim with lucrative contract offers, but it will also pose some serious questions, like how is this Iraqi youth team one of the best in world youth football, while its senior side finished last in their group behind Jordan and Oman.

This same question was asked by coach Chus Pereda, then managing the Spain U-20 at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Cup, after Iraq’s young charges had beaten his team and topped their group at the tournament in Saudi Arabia. He questioned the ages of the Iraqi players, noting their beards and moustaches and retorted to the gathering press and the Iraqi coach Anwar Jassam, that if the Iraqi youth team his players lost to, were truly under 20, then the Iraqi senior side had the prospect to win the World Cup.

If Iraq continues its progress in this tournament, and even win the World Youth Cup, many questions will be asked, but will Iraqi fans and the whole football community be willing to listen?

Many of the Iraqi team have been permanent fixtures in the Iraqi league from season 2009-2010.

It is not uncommon for players to make their debuts at 15 or 16, but how is it possible that Iraq has a squad filled with players that have done just that.

The 17 year-old youngster Humam Tariq of Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, one of Iraq’s top clubs, was supposedly handed the No.11 jersey at his club at 15 and was a fixture in the first team for the start of the 2010-2011 season.

Iraqi captain and goalkeeper Mohammed Hamed from the province of Al-Anbar, was the first team keeper for his club Al-Ramadi in 2007-2008 and in 2009 moved to Baghdad to play for Al-Kahraba and even played for the Iraqi youth team in 2008. He was born on January 24, 1993, making him 20 years of age, so he was supposedly 15 or 16 years old when he became a first team player.

Then there’s defender Mustafa Nadhim, who was playing for his home city club Al-Diwaniya in the Iraqi top flight in 2009-2010 at the age of 15, and moved to Al-Najaf the following year after his club were relegated.

Hozan Ismail was a youth player at German based Vfb Bochum before he moved to Sulimaniya in 2008 and has represented four clubs in the Iraqi league from 2008-2009.

Same can be said for Ali Yasin, Fahad Talib, Ali Faiz, Saad Natiq, Saif Salman, Jawad Kadhim, Ammar Abdul-Hussein, Mohammed Jabar Shukan, Mohanad Abdul-Rahim, have all been first team players for their clubs at just 16.

Could you believe that Wolfgang Sidka called up Ammar and Mohammed Shukan to the seniors in 2010? They were both 16 years of age. Their club-mate from Al-Minaa, right back Mohammed Jabar Rabat was handed his international debut against North Korea at the age of 17.

Is it really possible, that Iraq has so many teenage prodigies that make their debuts at sixteen years of age in the top division and play for the seniors at 17?

Many questions will be asked, if Iraq’s run in the tournament continues, the main one being, has Iraq discovered a secret formula for football ability or is there another reason for the team’s success?

Iraq come from behind to earn a late draw

England 2-2 Iraq
FIFA U20 World Cup 2013
7pm (BST), Sunday 23 June
Akdeniz University Stadium, Antalya, Turkey
By Nicholas Veevers in Antalya

England got their World Cup campaign under way with a disappointing draw against Iraq after squandering a two-nil lead.

The Three Lions were cruising after an hour as strikes from Conor Coady and Luke Williams had put Peter Taylor’s side in control.

However, two goals in the last 15 minutes, including a stoppage-time equaliser, rescued a point for the Iraqis.

With Iraq fielding a physically stong line-up featuring six senior internationals, it was always going to be a real test for the Three Lions. And Iraq began the game intent on slowing and spoiling the game from the first whistle.

It was only once they’d got a late lifeline through Ali Faez’s penalty that they began to show their attacking intent and they were rewarded for that through Ali Adnan’s strike seconds before the final whistle.

It was clear from the start that Iraq had a certain game plan and three separate players had received treatment in the first ten minutes.

And with England on the front-foot in the opening stages, Ross Barkley forced captain Mohammed Hameed into a smart early save with a powerful shot from the edge of the area.

A neat move then saw Harry Kane flick the ball into the path of Luke Williams in the area after 13 minutes. His shot beat Hameed, but was cleared off the line by Ali Faez as Iraq hung on.

Iraq’s first notable attempt at goal came ten minutes before the break when Mohanad Abdulraheem flashed a shot at goal just over.

But with half time approaching, a loose pass from the Iraq midfield was latched onto by Kane who burst past the last defender only to see Hameed foil him with a fingertip save.

James Ward-Prowse floated the corner to the far post, Hameed flapped, the ball fell to Coady and the Liverpool man made no mistake by planting a firm header home.

Iraq came out after the break with renewed vigour, but it was England who added to their advantage in the 52nd minute.

And ‘keeper Sam Johnstone could take the credit too, as a stunning double-save denied two Iraq attackers to set up a breakaway.

Coady intercepted Humam Tareq’s cross before Barkley ran the ball forward and slid a pass through for Kane on the right.

His centre picked out Williams at the far post and he crashed the ball under Hameed to double the lead.

England looked to be cruising, but Iraq got a lifeline with 15 minutes to go when a long ball caught out Eric Dier and Jamaal Lascelles.

Abdulraheem raced onto it, was clipped by Johnstone and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and booking the Manchester United stopper.

Faez stepped up and gave Johnstone no chance by smashing the ball into the roof of the net. The goal visibly lifted Iraq.

England had to show their resolve, with Iraq launching the ball towards the box at every opportunity and it was in the last minute of added time when they made the breakthrough.

With Jon Flanagan down on the edge of the area, a diagonal ball to Adnan found him unmarked and after twisting his way into some space he smashed a shot past Johnstone to send Iraq and their sizeable contingent of fans wild.

It left England on the floor, but with a game against Chile to come on Wednesday they have a chance to put this blow behind them and recover.

1 Sam Johnstone, 3 Daniel Potts, 4 Jon Flanagan, 5 Eric Dier, 6 Conor Coady (c), 7 James Ward-Prowse, 9 Harry Kane, 15 Jamaal Lascelles, 17 Luke Williams (10 Chris Long, 69), 18 John Lundstram (11 Adam Reach 69), 21 Ross Barkley (2 Gael Bigirimana, 89)
Subs not used 8 Larnell Cole, 11 Adam Reach, 12 George Long, 14 John Stones, 16 Tom Thorpe, 19 Alex Pritchard, 20 Luke Garbutt.

Goals Conor Coady (41), Luke Williams (52).

20 Mohammed Hameed (c), 3 Ali Adnan, 4 Suad Natiq (9 Mahdi Kamil, 56), 5 Ali Faez, 6 Saif Salman, 7 Jawad Kadhim (19 Farhan Shakor, 84), 8 Mohanad Abdulraheem, 11 Humam Tareq, 12 Mohammed Jabbar Arebat, 14 Mustafa Nadhim, 15 Dhurgham Ismael (17 Ammar Abdulhussein, 68)
Subs not used 2 Burhan Jumaah, 10 Mohammed Jabbar Shwkan, 13 Ali Qasim, 16 Ihab Kadhim, 18 Hozan Ismael, 21 Ali Yaseen, 1 Fahad Talib.

Goals Ali Faez (75 pen), Ali Adnan (90+3)

Referee Roberto Garcia
Assistant Referees Jose Luis Carmargo, Alberto Morin
Fourth Official Wilmer Roldan

Attendance 3,148