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Abdul-Ghani Shahad (born 7 March 1968) is an Iraqi professional football coach and former player who is the current manager of Iraq U23. Abdul-Ghani started his playing career at Al-Najaf FC and remained a one club man throughout his career. Upon his retirement in 1999, he went in coaching and managed his hometown club Al-Najaf for 7 years, achieving a second place finish. He moved around and managed a number of Iraqi sides, before winning his first Iraqi Premier League title with Naft Al-Wasat. Abdul-Ghani went on to be appointed as manager of the Iraqi U23 national team, where he guided the team towards Olympic qualification and a third place finish in the AFC U-22 Championship

Abdul-Ghani Shahad
Personal information
Full name Abdul-Ghani Shahad
Date of birth (1968-03-07) 7 March 1968 (age 51)
Place of birth Najaf, Iraq
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987–1999 Al-Najaf
Teams managed
1999 Al-Najaf
2003–2008 Al-Najaf
2005–2006 Iraq U20 (assistant)
2008–2009 Al-Talaba
2009–2010 Karbala
2010–2013 Al-Najaf
2013–2015 Naft Al-Wasat
2015– Iraq U23
2016 Iraq (interim)
2016–2017 Naft Al-Wasat
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Playing careerEdit

Abdul-Ghani started his career as a 19 year old with Al Najaf, and he remained loyal to his boyhood club for 12 years until his retirement in 1999. His first season in 1986/87 was in the second division, and were promoted to the second division one year later. From 1987 onwards, Al Najaf slowly established itself as an important team in the Iraqi league, moving gradually from mid table towards title-contention. Abdul-Ghani was a fixture of the team from '87 onwards alongside Ali Hashim, Hassan Jawad, Mohammed Abdul-Hussein, Haidar Najim, with the team managed by legendary Najih Humoud. The team peaked in the late '90s finishing 3rd in the 94–95 season, and second in the 95–96 season. Abdul-Ghani was an unused substitute as Al Najaf won its first ever silverware, the 1997 Iraqi Elite Cup. Towards 1999 Abdul-Ghani has become a bench player who saw very little playtime, so he retired and became the interim manager for 15 matches. Abdul-Ghani Shahad never represented Iraq at any level.[1]

Managerial careerEdit

Al NajafEdit

Abdul Ghani Shahad become the interim manager of Al Najaf in 1999, where he managed the team for 15 games, winning 7 games. Despite his impressive record, Abdul-Ghani was relegated to assistant manager, due to his inexperience.

Abdul Ghani Shahad's first full season in charge of Al Najaf was the 2002-03 season, which was cut short after 29 rounds due to the American Invasion of Iraq.[2] During the season Al Najaf only lost 3 matches, 2 of which were in the abandoned second half of the season, and were serious title contenders.

The following season was abandoned midway through because of the security situation in the country.[3]

The 2004/05 season was the first full season which was completed since the start of the Iraq War, Abdul-Ghani Shahad led Al Najaf to be second on the Euphrates Group, with only one loss.[4] In the Elite stage, Al Najaf finished second in their group, behind Al-Zawraa, and failed to qualify to the championship playoffs.[5]

The 2005/06 season was the standout season for Abdul Ghani Shahad and Al Najaf. Abdul Ghani Shahad led the team to a second place finish in the Central Group A, which meant the qualified to the Elite stage for the second season running.[6] In the Elite stage, Al Najaf managed to finish first in their group and qualifying to the championship playoff,[7] they beat Erbil in the semifinal 5-2 on aggregate.[8] The final against Al-Zawraa was played in Sulaymaniyah on June 24, 2006, the match went to penalties scoreless. Uday Omran and Jassib Sultan missed their penalties as Al-Najaf lost, 4–3, on penalties.[9] Despite the loss, it was still Al Najaf's best result in over a decade. Finishing second also meant that Al Najaf qualified to the AFC Champions League for the first time ever.[10]

The following season, Al Najaf finished 3rd in their group and were eliminated from the AFC Champions League.[11] Meanwhile in the league, Al Najaf once again reached the playoff contention, however they lost to Erbil SC in the semi final, while they beat Al-Talaba SC in the third place playoff, and qualified to the Arab Champions League.[12]

In the 2007/08 season, Al Najaf once again made the playoffs[13] but failed to reach the semi final.[14] They were also eliminated from the Arab Champions League in the second round.[15]

Following the end of the season, Abdul-Ghani got an offer from giants Al-Talaba SC which he took.[16]

Al TalabaEdit

Under Abdul Ghani, Al Talaba failed to qualify to the playoffs in the 2008/09 season after finishing 3rd in group B, 3 points behind second place Al Amana.[17] The performance was deemed unsatisfactory and he was subsequently relieved of his duties as manager of Al Talaba.[18]


Following his sacking, Abdul Ghani signed for Karbala on the 15th of June 2009.[19] He led the time to finish 4th in group B, an impressive jump from 11th position in the season prior.[20] Karbala were eliminated in the Elite stage after finishing third behind Duhok SC and Al Quwa Al Jawiya.[21] Following his impressive stint with Karbala, Abdul Ghani returned to Al Najaf.

Return to Al NajafEdit

Following the 2009/10 season, Abdul-Ghani returned once again to his boyhood club Al Najaf. His first season ended on a disappointing note after Al Najaf finished in 6th place and were 18 points behind playoff contention.[22] Despite the undesirable results, Al Najaf decided to keep faith with their man, the following season saw the league return to a Round-robin tournament.[23] The league ended with Al Najaf finishing in 9th place. The 12/13 season also finished with Al Najaf in 9th place.[24] Following that season, Abdul-Ghani moved to a new team founded in Al-Najaf playing in the second division named Naft Al-Wasat.

Naft Al WasatEdit

Abdul-Ghani Shahad took a gamble and signed for second division side Naft Al Wasat in August 2013.[25] He took them on a historic campaign, finishing first in all three stages undefeated.[26][27][28] A total of twenty-five games without a loss meant that the team would be promoted to the Iraqi Premier League.[29]

The following season Abdul Ghani Shahad led the team to its first ever season in the top flight. They achieved an amazing feat by qualifying to the Elite stage.[30] They went on to qualify to the final to face Al Quwa Al Jawiya [31] They game was played in Al-Shaab Stadium in front of a sold out crowd and the game went to penalties, where Naft Al Wasat ended up winning the match due to the heroics of Noor Sabri saving 3 penalties.[32]

Iraq U23Edit

In 2015, Shahad was appointed as the manager of the Iraqi U23 team, replacing Yahya Alwan.[33] His first tournament in charge was the 2016 AFC U-23 Championship, in which Iraq finished third, after defeating Qatar in extra time.[34] The bronze medal meant that Iraq also qualified to the 2016 Summer Olympics.[35]

In the Olympic games, Shahad was applauded by fans and pundits for his defensive formations that led to a 0-0 draw with heavyweights Brazil.[36] However, Iraq failed to qualify from the group after finishing in 3rd place with 3 points from 3 games.[37]

Under his management, Iraq qualified to the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship by winning all three games in their qualification group.[38] They were knocked out of the quarterfinals of the competition, following a defeat in penalty kicks against Vietnam.

Iraq National TeamEdit

Following the 2-2 draw vs Thailand,[39] Yahya Alwan resigned as manager of the national side,[40] Abdul-Ghani was brought on as an interim coach.[41] He only managed one game, which he won against Vietnam.[42] His win meant that he is one of only two Iraqi managers in recent times with a 100% win record, alongside Nadhum Shaker.

Return to Naft Al WasatEdit

In July 2016, Naft Al Wasat reached an agreement with Abdul-Ghani to manage both the club and the U23 side simultaneously.[43] However he left before the end of the season due to his obligations to the Iraqi U23 side.[44]



As of 16 March 2019
Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Al-Najaf   1999 1999 15 7 5 3 046.67
Al-Najaf   August 2002 July 2008 122 74 27 21 060.66
Al-Talaba   August 2008 May 2009 20 13 4 3 065.00
Karbala   June 2009 March 2010 12 6 4 2 050.00
Najaf   March 2010 February 2013 128 48 40 40 037.50
Naft Al-Wasat   August 2013 August 2015 50 31 13 6 062.00
Iraq U23   August 2015 present 32 21 8 3 065.63
Iraq   March 2016 March 2016 1 1 0 0 100.00
Naft Al-Wasat   July 2016 February 2017 19 12 5 2 063.16
Iraq U23   20 February 2017 ""Present"" 23 16 4 3 069.57
Total 280 146 76 58 052.14



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External linksEdit