Iraq Soccer Betting Odds
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Nicknames: Lions of Mesopotamia, Asood Al-Rafidain
Head coach: Zico
Most caps: Hussein Saeed (126)
Top scorer: Hussein Saeed (61)
Home stadium: Al Shaab Stadium (Baghdad), Franso Hariri Stadium (Arbil)
Iraqi football has a long history and the game itself is extremely popular. The national team has qualified for many continental championships, and even reached the Final of the Asian Games football tournament. Iraq have also twice sent a representative XI to compete in the final competitions of the FIFA World Youth Championship (1977 Tunisia; 1989 Saudi Arabia). In 2002, Iraq won the West Asian Championship, although the country was firmly in the grip of political turmoil. This triumph remains Iraqi football's greatest day to date. Countless Iraqi players have earned moves abroad, primarily to clubs in the Middle East. The current President of the association, Hussain Saeed, was also one of the best players to have emerged from Iraq. However, the wars of the last 15 years have unfortunately set the country back and reconstruction work will not be completed overnight. Having said that, football in Iraqhas never died. People always tried, whenever possible, to play matches in the domestic and regional league championships. Against all odds the national teams sensational runned in the Asian Cup reaching the quarter finals in China in July 2004 and the Olympic Games in Athens in August 2004 where they reached the medal round and took the fourth place! People back home heralded such success stories as the first shotzs of recovery of Iraq football.
The ongoing lack of security in the capital, Bagdad, is holding up the completion and opening of the headquarters and technical centre built under project 1. A new project in the more secure north of the country will provide a technical centre in Arbil with seminar rooms and offices as well as accommodation for national team players using the centre as a training camp. The plan approved by the Goal Bureau on 22 October 2008 has been divided into two phases. The second phase will consist of the laying of an artificial turf pitch.
AFC World Cup Qualifiers
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of association football in Asia. It has 46 member countries, mostly located on the Asian continent. Due to the disputed boundary of Europe and Asia, transcontinental nations such as Turkey and Russia are instead in the UEFA, whereas countries such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Israel are entirely in Asia (Central or Western Asia) and still members of the UEFA. On the other hand, Australia, formerly in the OFC, has been in the AFC since 2006, in the same way as the Oceanian nations of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, which are also members of AFC.