By Mohannad AlZubaidy
January 25, 2015
Baghdad, Iraqi’s semifinal match of the Asian Cup 2015 against S. Korea seams very tough match for the Lions of Mesopotamia squad.
But Iraqi coach, Radhi Shunaishil, is working on taking the match to the penalties by giving more defensive tasks to Kasim replacement Osam Kadhum, Alphense Boys midfielder.
Though, it will not be that impossible task for Iraqis as Iraq faced Korea in 2007 semifinal and took the match to the penalties and succeeded in qualifying to the final.
In 2007, Iraqi’s only Asian Cup winning, Iraqi defense looked stiffer than the current squad. Under Brazilian coach, Jorvan Vieira, Iraq was armed with 5-4-1 formation and had the best defenders in Gulf region.
Current squad is suffering in the defensive side, where Iraq received 3 goals from Iran in the quarter final out of 5 attacks on goal only and all goals were clearly indicating to a very weak defense.
But Iraq’s major weapon is, and was always, the fighter spirit of the squad armed with huge support by the nation which looks to it as the only source of happiness and a place to unite a war torn country.
In 2007, Iraq was living the climax of civil unrest, but Iraq’s winning at that time created a wave of joy lasted for weeks and created a joint celebration for the different ethnic groups in Iraq where many politician failed.
Monday match in Sydney will not be a football match only, but an important message for all Iraqis back home;
During the quarter final match against Iran last Friday, Iraqi Security Forces conducted a major sweep military operation to the east of the capital to clean the area from Islamic State Fighters.
“As Slam Shakir (Iraqi defender and last penalty taker) scored the winning goal for Iraq, an Iraqi soldier was raising the Iraqi flag over a building just being cleaned from ISIS terrorists”, one of the Iraqi sport journalists commented on his page.