Younis Mahmoud: “I’ll be back” – No, you won’t.


Younis Mahmoud says he’s at the service of the national team and will be ready to return to play for the team but not with the same coaches in charge, meaning Radhi Shanaishel or Abdul-Ghani Shahad, “that will be difficult,” he notes. The reason why  he hadn’t said he had retired fully was because he wants to leave the door open, with the thinking that after one or two matches, the FA may not have confidence in the coach and they could replace him and Younis believes he might return then.

The Iraqi captain mentions there are older players in the current national team that himself, there is no player who like Younis was born in the 1970s. Younis is the oldest outfield player to represent Iraq at 37 years in its history.

If he wants to return to the national team than first find a club before claiming to deserve a place in the team. 19 league appearances and a mere three goals in one of the weakest Iraqi league seasons ever and he still insists he’s the best striker in Iraq. And what more does a 37-year-old want, will his legs last another six months? Does he want to play at another Asian Cup, or Gulf Cup?

Iraqi leagues goal scorers’ charts – Younis finished in 32nd place in goalscorers’ charts

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Younis Mahmoud personifies Iraq in motion, blaming the coaches for targeting him, to get a reaction from them and then saying that they do not have the experience to lead the team, and then says the orders come from the Iraqi FA and not the coaches.

As Nashat Akram once stated “Younis will dream and won’t play in the World Cup,” and the same will be said of Younis and the national team, that door is firmly closed. What use is Younis in the national team? Has anyone seen his last three matches for Iraq? The 2018 World Cup is not just these two matches in September, but next year and then in 2018, do you seriously think a player nearing his forties can actually lead the team’s attack. He’s had more than his share, give other players a chance because in his current form, Younis is no longer worth a place in the squad. It’s time for the likes of Sherko Karim, Abdul-Qadir Tariq, Ayman Hussein, etc. Anyone who believes Younis should return, really needs to understand that Younis of 2007 is gone, the reason why he’s no longer playing in the Gulf is not because he does not want to, its because they know he’s finished, because if he wasn’t, Younis would still be playing in the Qatari League for Gharafa.

Iraqi coaches have to give Iraq’s national strikers confidence, because after years of playing Younis as starter in every game, friendly or tournament, the rest of the strikers have played second fiddle to the former Iraqi captain. Amjad Radhi had played 35 times for Iraq but completed 90 minutes in only six matches! (and you expect a player to perform when completing only six matches?). Mustafa Karim scored his first international goal after 17 matches of which he started only eight matches and had never played a full 90 minutes in any of the prior 16 games. Alaa Abdul-Zahra has played just once as a main striker in over 90 matches for Iraq. Continue looking at the stats on other strikers in the national team and you will find why Younis Mahmoud was Iraq’s top scorer for the last few years, its because no other striker has played in that ‘Younis’ role nor has any striker played as many minutes or matches as Younis Mahmoud in the last few years with the national team. And people still expect Iraq’s national side to win, with a 37-year-old striker who has scored just 6 goals in 18 games in the last year for Iraq (a goal percentage of 40%) as their main goal threat? These kind of numbers mean Iraq cannot rely on Younis to be Iraq’s main striker – to help win them matches, maybe if they played Macao or Chinese Taipei every time but not Japan, Australia, the UAE, Thailand or Saudi Arabia.

Thank you captain Younis, thanks for the memories, for the goals, the wins, the defeats, the retirements, the non-retirements and that goal in Jakarta. Let us remember you the right way.