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.

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

  1. The only strikers I see a future with in the national team are Marwan Hussein and Abdul Qadir Tariq, and possibly Alaa Abdul Zahra. All the others have been tried many times and never got close to Younis’s level. You don’t necessarily need a full 90 minutes every single match you play in order to prove your worth to the team. The reason why Amjad Radhi hasnt completed 90 minutes often is probably because he didn’t perform. Hammadi has been in the Iraq set-up for many years and other than 1 goal against Jordan he hasn’t done anything of note. Sherko Karim is far too young at the moment to be thinking of playing him at striker at the moment, the Olympics showed his decision making is awful and he needs time to improve his game first. Mohanad is a very wasteful striker and definitely not good enough for the national team. Even the goals he has scored in the past have been extremely lucky. The goal vs Vietnam came of his knee and slowly bounced in, the goal vs Qatar was a tame header that the keeper should have saved, I don’t even remember him scoring that much in the U20 world cup and he was about 23 back then.

    Younis didnt do well in the Iraqi league but nonetheless he has still performed better than all the other strikers mentioned above in the international scene. Even when he didn’t even have a club, he was still scoring goals very regularly. People were calling for him to leave back in 2012, but he came back and dragged us to the final of the Gulf Cup. They called for him to leave in 2014 but he came and helped us get to the Asian Cup semi final. In my opinion we should not play Younis in any friendly matches, leave those matches to testing out new strikers. But when it comes to World Cup Qualifiers we must play our best possible team and in my opinion that includes Younis, at least for now.

    Also another thing I want to mention is that it’s unbelievable how much Iraqi fans deny the existence of age fraud. I started a thread on the Kooora forums about it and within 20 minutes one of their moderators just removed it entirely! Unfortunately if people continue to pretend it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to get solved.

  2. You know the same argument was made about Younis Mahmoud when he was selected in 2002 by Adnan Hamad. “He’s too young, too indisciplined, lacks temperment,” but he got better as he became familiar with the national team set-up and by 2005-2006, he was the first name on the team-sheet. You have to give players time and none of the strikers mentioned have been given that time to develop, one bad game and they’re taken off, not even one game, 60 minutes and they are replaced – play their next game 3 or 4 months later or a year later and that does not give any player confidence. You can clearly see the likes of Amjad Radhi, Hamadi Ahmed, Mohanad Abdul-Rahim, etc lack that confidence when they put on the Iraqi jersey but at club level they are different players altogether. These players are good enough but the coaches have failed them, playing them in different positions, replacing them in every game and treating them as reserves. They have scored more goals in the last few years that Younis has. Iraq is not going to qualify for 2018 World Cup (with or without Younis) and the coach must try and build a team in these next 12 or 18 months. At 37, Younis does not have anything to offer the team anymore. If a striker is given the same time and continuous games as Younis as been given in the past 5 years than Iraq will find a replacement. You cannot judge a player over 5 or 10 games especially if he’s replaced after 60 minutes or so into a game, if so Younis Mahmoud would have never made it and his Iraqi career was not an overnight success as some people lead you to believe. This is the moment for change, to rebuild. Going back to Younis will not instil confidence in the other strikers.

  3. The difference is, Younis had already scored 2 hat tricks and a cup final goal in his first 9 matches. That meant that even if he went on some barren runs, he had already proven that he could perform on the international scene. I understand that perhaps the likes of Hammadi and Mohannad and Radhi have not completed a full 90 minutes a lot of the time. But if I’m not mistaken, Hammadi has nearly 40 caps, Amjad Radhi has nearly 40 caps, Mohannad has nearly 30 caps. That’s a combined of around 100 matches. Let’s say they played 60 minutes in each of those, do you really think that this is not enough of an opportunity to show your quality? A true quality striker should be able to prove his worth in no more than 10 matches in my opinion. Hammadi has scored a few goals here and there at least but he’s never looked clinical for Iraq, Mohanad hasn’t shown much and Amjad Radhi has been utterly disappointing. In my opinion, we have to just move on from these guys. They haven’t shown us why they deserve to keep getting chances and none of them have reached a level near what Younis reached even in his latter days and so none of them deserve to be ahead of him in the pecking order.

    I agree that Younis’s presence has probably hindered their development but at the end of the day I think they’ve had enough chances now to show what they can do. On the other hand, Marwan Hussein and Abdul Qadir Tariq haven’t had a lot of games, and Alaa AbdulZahra has not been tried out frequently enough in the striker position, so these are the three that I would focus on now. We need to play them in as many friendly games as possible first to get them accustomed to the team and see what they can do. But in the meantime we need to put out our strongest XI for the qualifiers and in my opinion, Younis is included in that, which I know is not what you agree with but that’s my opinion.

  4. Younis played many unofficial matches in 2002 before he played at the 2004 Asian Cup qualifiers and when he played he was given a chance, it was not stop-start, Adnan Hamad would give him starts and play him in full 90 mins matches. Its was not instant. No doubting Younis’ talent at the time, in 2002 he was in form but the coach knew how to bring him in gradually into the national set-up. That same thing cannot be said about how the likes of Alaa Abdul-Zahra, Mustafa Karim, Amjad Radhi, Mohanad and Marwan have been treated, they know they’re reserves and are treated as such even if they start, they know they will be benched (and number of caps only make a lot of difference when you count the minutes they played, 1 cap may mean 1 minute which if you look at Amjad Radhi’s international record, you’ll find a number of 1 or 2 minute appearances). Adnan Hamad gave Younis, Emad, Razzaq Farhan and even Ahmed Manajid opportunities to start. But over the years there has only been one striker and its Younis everytime and he really does not merit his place.

    Saying this the debate on Younis and the national team is over, his time has passed and he won’t be back. Give another striker the backing as Younis has had over the years and you will see a great difference, its about confidence because the likes of Amjad Radhi and Hamadi Ahmed have good goalscoring records but when it comes to the national team they freeze and Younis and Iraq’s previous coaches are partly to blame.

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