Iraq national football team
The Iraq national football team (Arabic: المنتخب العراقي لكرة القدم) represents Iraq in international football. The team is known by its fans as Asood Al-Rafidain (Arabic: أسود الرافدين), which means Lions of Mesopotamia, and is controlled by the Iraq Football Association (IFA), which is currently a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as well as the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), the Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) and the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation (AGCFF).
|Nickname(s)||Asood Al-Rafidain |
(Lions of Mesopotamia)
|Association||Iraq Football Association|
|Sub-confederation||WAFF (West Asia)|
|Head coach||Srečko Katanec|
|Most caps||Younis Mahmoud (148)|
|Top scorer||Hussein Saeed (78)|
|Home stadium||Basra International Stadium|
|Current||77 1 (14 June 2019)|
|Highest||39 (6 October 2004)|
|Lowest||139 (3 July 1996)|
|Current||61 9 (16 June 2019)|
|Highest||22 (3 December 1982)|
|Lowest||95 (6 October 2016)|
| Morocco 3–3 Iraq |
(Beirut, Lebanon; 19 October 1957)
| Iraq 13–0 Ethiopia |
(Irbid, Jordan; 18 August 1992)
| Turkey 7–1 Iraq |
(Adana, Turkey; 6 December 1959)
Brazil 6–0 Iraq
(Malmö, Sweden; 11 October 2012)
Chile 6–0 Iraq
(Copenhagen, Denmark; 14 August 2013)
|Appearances||1 (first in 1986)|
|Best result||Group stage, 1986|
|Appearances||9 (first in 1972)|
|Best result||Champions, 2007|
|Appearances||1 (first in 2009)|
|Best result||Group stage, 2009|
Iraq are one of eight current AFC members to have won the continent's most coveted trophy, the AFC Asian Cup, having done so in 2007 when they beat Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final. The triumph has been described as one of football's greatest fairytale victories, with the team managing to eliminate competitors with far greater preparation and resources on their way to the title, bringing joy and unity to the people of their war-torn nation. Iraq also achieved success at the Asian Games when it was a senior competition, winning the gold medal in 1982 by defeating rivals Kuwait 1–0 in the decisive match. The team has been awarded the AFC National Team of the Year award twice (and the under-20 team has won the award once); only Japan have won the award on more occasions.
From 1964 to 1988, Iraq achieved multiple honours on the Arab stage, winning three Arabian Gulf Cup titles, four Arab Nations Cup titles and the gold medal at the Pan Arab Games. They added West Asian honours to their cabinet in the 2000s, defeating Jordan 3–2 after extra time to win the 2002 WAFF Championship and beating Syria in a penalty shootout to claim gold at the 2005 West Asian Games.
Iraq have participated in the FIFA World Cup once (in 1986) and in the FIFA Confederations Cup once (in 2009), being eliminated in the group stage both times. They reached as far as the quarter-finals in the Olympic Games when it was a senior tournament, with the under-23 team going even further in later years. The team has been ranked as high as 39th in the FIFA World Rankings, which they achieved in October 2004.
As early as 1923, an Iraqi team known as Baghdad XI, controlled by the Baghdad Football Association, started to play matches against British Army teams. The Baghdad FA soon disbanded and it was not until 8 October 1948 that the Iraq Football Association was founded. The Iraq FA joined FIFA in 1950 and on 2 May 1951, Iraq played their first match: a 1–1 draw to a team named Basra XI. Iraq's first ever official international game came in the opening game of the 1957 Pan Arab Games in Beirut where Iraq drew 3–3 to Morocco with goals from Ammo Baba, Youra Eshaya and Fakhri Mohammed Salman. Iraq were eventually knocked out in the group stage of that tournament. One of the members of Iraq’s first national team was Youra Eshaya, who in 1954 became the first Iraqi footballer to play abroad and in Europe for English Football League side Bristol Rovers. He spent 18 months playing for the 3rd team, known as the Colts and the reserve team before returning to Iraq in late 1955.
In 1962, Iraq appointed their first foreign manager, Romanian coach Cornel Drăgușin. Iraq won their first trophy in 1964 when they hosted and won the Arab Nations Cup, winning three and drawing one of their four games. The next year, they participated in the Pan Arab Games for the second time, but were once again knocked out in the group stage. The following year, they lost the final of the 1966 Tripoli Fair Tournament to Morocco, but also retained their Arab Nations Cup title that year, beating Syria 2–1 in the final. In 1967, Iraq claimed the Tripoli Fair Tournament title with two wins and one draw, and two years later they finished fifth at the Jaam-e-Doosti (Friendship) Cup, hosted in Iran. In 1972, Iraq hosted, and reached the final of, the Palestine Cup of Nations, losing the decisive match to Egypt. That year, Iraq also played at their first ever AFC Asian Cup but failed to win a game in the tournament. In March 1973, Iraq played their first ever FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. They finished second in their group, a point behind Australia, therefore failing to qualify for the next round. In the remaining years of the 1970s, Iraq reached the second round of the Asian Games (1974), lost the Palestine Cup of Nations final (1975), lost the Arabian Gulf Cup final (1976), finished fourth at the AFC Asian Cup (1976), lost two consecutive Merdeka Tournament finals (1977 and 1978), finished fourth in the Asian Games (1978) and finally hosted and won the Arabian Gulf Cup (1979). The 1976 Asian Cup would be the last Asian Cup that Iraq appeared in for the next 20 years, as they withdrew from the next four editions.
1980s – The Golden EraEdit
The 1980s was arguably Iraq's most successful period in their history. They started the decade off disappointingly, being knocked out in the first round of qualifiers for the 1982 FIFA World Cup. In 1981, they won the Merdeka Tournament for the first time, and followed that up by winning the gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games, meanwhile the reserve team finished third at the 1983 Marah Halim Cup. In 1984, Iraq won both the Arabian Gulf Cup and the Merlion Cup, and the following year they finished fourth at the 1985 President's Cup Football Tournament, won the 1985 Arab Nations Cup and also won the gold medal at the 1985 Pan Arab Games.
After all this success, Iraq topped it off by qualifying for the 1986 FIFA World Cup with a win over Syria. This was the first and last time to date that Iraq have achieved this. Having finished in a lowly sixth place at the 1986 Arabian Gulf Cup, Iraq were unfancied in the 1986 FIFA World Cup; however Iraq lost all three of their games in the tournament by just one goal, and would have drawn the opening game against Paraguay had the referee not disallowed a legitimate Iraqi goal. Iraq's only goal in the tournament was scored by Ahmed Radhi, the second-highest goalscorer in Iraq's history with 62 goals, behind Hussein Saeed who scored 78 goals.
In the following years, Iraq reached the quarter-finals of the 1986 Asian Games, won the 1988 Arabian Gulf Cup, reached the quarter-finals of the 1988 President's Cup Football Tournament, won the 1988 Arab Nations Cup, were knocked out at the first round of 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification and won the 1989 Peace and Friendship Cup. Overall, Iraq won nine competitions in the 1980s and played in their only ever World Cup, leading many to believe that this was the Golden Era of Iraqi football.
1990s – The Dark EraEdit
In 1990, Iraq withdrew from the 10th Arabian Gulf Cup after complaining about the referee in their match against the United Arab Emirates. Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait later that year, Iraq were kicked out of the tournament and did not return until 2004. They were also banned from the Asian Games and Arab Nations Cup tournaments for the same reason, leading them to participate in friendly competitions instead.
In the 1992 Jordan International Tournament, Iraq recorded their biggest ever win: a 13–0 demolition of Ethiopia. Iraq reached the final of the tournament but lost 2–0 to Jordan. The following year, Iraq participated in qualifiers for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and reached the final round but finished fourth in the group, missing out on a World Cup spot by two points. By drawing their last game with Japan 2–2, they denied the Japanese a place in the finals in a match referred to by the Japanese media as the Agony of Doha. Iraq won both the 1995 Nehru Cup and the 1995 Merdeka Tournament and the following year they participated in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup, their first Asian Cup campaign for 20 years. They reached the quarter-finals but lost to the United Arab Emirates thanks to a golden goal scored by Abdulrahman Ibrahim. In 1996, Iraq was ranked 139th in the world, which is their worst FIFA ranking in their history. Iraq retained their Nehru Cup title in 1997 and that year they also participated in qualifiers for the 1998 FIFA World Cup but were knocked out at the first round following two defeats to Kazakhstan. Iraq reached the final of the 1999 Pan Arab Games; they were losing 4–0 in the final against Jordan with just 20 minutes of the game remaining but produced a stunning comeback to score four goals in the space of fourteen minutes to take the game to extra time and eventually a penalty shootout which Iraq lost 3–1 to take the silver medal. In 1999 Iraq also participated in the International Friendship Cup and won the cup ahead of the United Arab Emirates, Estonia and Turkmenistan. This period is known as 'The Dark Era' as Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein, abused his control of Iraqi football and tortured players who played poorly, punishing them by sending them to prison, making them bathe in raw sewage and kick concrete balls, and shaving their heads among many other awful punishments.
2000s – Champions of AsiaEdit
Iraq started the 2000s by finishing in third place in the first ever WAFF Championship in 2000, while the reserve team finished as runners-up in the Independence Cup. That year Iraq also played in the 2000 AFC Asian Cup but were knocked out at the quarter-final stage again, this time by Japan in a 4–1 loss. Iraq reached the second round of 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification but lost five of their eight second-round games and therefore failed to make the finals. Iraq won their first ever WAFF Championship in 2002, beating Jordan 3–2 in the final after extra time despite being two goals down. In this game, Younis Mahmoud scored his first official goal for Iraq right at the end of normal time to take the match to extra time; Mahmoud would go on to become Iraq's most-capped player ever. In 2004, Iraq finished fourth in the WAFF Championship, reached the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup, were knocked out at the second round of 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and were knocked out in the group stage of the Arabian Gulf Cup. In 2004, Iraq were ranked as high as 39th in the World Rankings which is their highest ranking position in their history. The following year, Iraq participated in the West Asian Games for the first time and won the gold medal by beating Syria in the final via a penalty shootout, with goalkeeper Noor Sabri saving two penalties and scoring one himself. In 2007, Iraq were knocked out at the group stage of the Arabian Gulf Cup. The exit from the Gulf Cup happened in very controversial circumstances as Iraq attempted to make an agreement with Saudi Arabia to draw the final game which would put both teams through to the next round; the Iraq manager Akram Salman told the Iraqi players not to win the game but the Saudi Arabian players were unaware of any agreement and went on to win the game and knock Iraq out of the cup. A few months later, Iraq reached the final of the WAFF Championship but lost 2–1 to Iran.
In July 2007, Iraq, led by Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira, kicked off their 2007 AFC Asian Cup campaign. The squad was made mainly of players that had finished fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games and finished second at the 2006 Asian Games; this generation of players became known as the 'Golden Generation'. Jorvan Vieira only had two months to prepare his team for the tournament, and the team suffered from very poor facilities. The Iraq FA struggled to provide the team with enough kits for the tournament and each player only had one kit that they had to take around with them everywhere they went. Midway through the tournament, Iraq ran out of kits and had to make an emergency order from Umbro for a new set of kits that had a different design to the previous one. Meanwhile, Iraq had not been able to play any previous games in their own country for security reasons and most of the players had had family members killed in the war. The team, a mixture of Sunnis, Shias and Kurds, started the tournament with a 1–1 draw against joint-hosts Thailand before producing one of the upsets of the tournament: a 3–1 win over tournament favourites Australia (which included a free-kick goal by Nashat Akram) whose team consisted of many Premier League players. A draw with Oman followed to put Iraq into the quarter-finals where two Younis Mahmoud goals against Vietnam put Iraq into the semi-finals for the second time in their history. They produced another big upset by knocking out Asian giants South Korea (who had thrashed Iraq 3–0 in a pre-tournament friendly) in the semis via a penalty shootout in which Noor Sabri made a crucial save. After the game, a suicide bomber killed 30 football fans who were celebrating the semi-final win over South Korea and this almost led to the Iraqi team withdrawing from the final, but they decided to go on in honour of the dead and produced yet another upset by defeating Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final, a game that they dominated from start to finish and that was won by a Younis Mahmoud header. This tournament win is seen as one of the greatest upsets in international history as a war-torn country became international champions in what is described as one of sport's greatest 'fairytales'.
The following year, despite being the continent's champions, Iraq failed to advance to the final round of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as a 1–0 defeat to Qatar saw them finish in third in their third round group. Following this, the Iraq FA decided to disband the team but they were soon brought back together for the 2009 Arabian Gulf Cup. Iraq failed to win a game in the tournament though and were knocked out at the group stage.
A few months later, Iraq participated in only their second FIFA tournament ever: the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, which they qualified for by winning the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. They started the tournament with a 0–0 draw with hosts South Africa, before losing to UEFA Euro 2008 winners Spain by a very respectable one goal to nil in a match where they were expected to get beaten very easily. A 2–0 win over New Zealand would have seen Iraq qualify for the semi-finals of the Festival of Champions but they drew the game 0–0 and were knocked out. Iraq had similar problems in this tournament with their kits as players were seen wearing different name and number fonts to each other during the different games. On 20 November 2009, the FIFA Emergency Committee suspended the Iraq FA due to government interference; the suspension was lifted on 19 March 2010.
2010s – Ups and downsEdit
In both the 2010 WAFF Championship and 2010 Arabian Gulf Cup, Iraq were knocked out in the semi-finals, while under the management of Wolfgang Sidka, Iraq were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, failing to retain their title. After this tournament, Iraq announced the appointment of Brazilian football legend Zico as manager of the team and his first tournament in charge was the 2011 Pan Arab Games where Iraq were knocked out at the group stage.
The following years saw Iraq finish third at the 2012 Arab Nations Cup and lose the finals of both the 2012 WAFF Championship and 2013 Arabian Gulf Cup to Syria and the United Arab Emirates respectively after the resignation of Zico. Iraq reached the fourth round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers but finished bottom of their group. Iraq decided to send their U23 team to the 2014 WAFF Championship, but they sent their first team to the 2014 Arabian Gulf Cup where Iraq finished bottom of their group, leading to the sacking of Hakeem Shaker and the appointment of Radhi Shenaishil as manager. Despite poor preparations, Shenaishil led Iraq to the semi-finals of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup before they lost to South Korea and the United Arab Emirates to finish the tournament in fourth. Their run included an amazing 3–3 draw with Iran in the quarter-final, which Iraq then won in a penalty shootout. Younis Mahmoud also became the first player to score in four different Asian Cups. After this great success, Shenaishil returned to managing Qatar SC and Iraq appointed Akram Salman as manager but he was soon sacked after losing the 2015 Kirin Challenge Cup 4–0 to Japan. Yahya Alwan was appointed and he led Iraq to direct qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup as well as qualification to the third round of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Despite this, he was replaced by Radhi Shenaishil due to Iraq's poor performances in the qualifiers. Iraq were drawn with Thailand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan and Australia in their third round group. After losing five of their first seven games, Iraq were eliminated from the qualification process, and Radhi Shenaishil was sacked, replaced by Basim Qasim. Qasim led Iraq to the semi-finals of the Arabian Gulf Cup, where they were knocked out by the United Arab Emirates.
On 3 September 2018, Srečko Katanec was appointed as head coach for a three-year contract. Under Katanec, Iraq managed to reach the round of sixteen of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, but repeatedly injuries torn his Iraq as they lost to eventual champions Qatar by one goal margin.
Home matches in IraqEdit
Since 1980, FIFA imposed bans on six occasions that prevented Iraq from hosting competitive international games.
The first ban was imposed in 1980 after an Olympic qualifying play-off between Iraq and Kuwait in Baghdad, where the match referee was attacked by enraged home fans and members of the Iraqi team after the Malaysian official’s decision to award a match changing penalty to the Kuwaitis that led to Iraq losing 3-2. The ban was lifted in 1982. 
Around the same time, the Iran–Iraq War started. Although this prevented Iraq from playing their qualifying home games, they still qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and three Olympic Games (Moscow, Los Angeles and Seoul). The ban was lifted in 1988, when the Iran–Iraq War ended.
Iraq played the 2002 World Cup qualifiers at home against Iran (first time since the Iraq-Iran War) Bahrain, and Thailand in the Al-Shaab Stadium in Baghdad. Saudi Arabia refused to play in Iraq because of the tensions between that country and the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Iraq resumed playing on home soil on 10 July 2009, winning a friendly 3–0 against Palestine in Franso Hariri Stadium, Erbil. Iraq played the same opponents three days later, in Al-Shaab Stadium in Baghdad, this time winning 4–0 in front of a crowd of over 50,000. The same month, the AFC Executive Committee approved the stadium at Erbil as a venue for matches involving the Iraqi national team, and clubs in continental tournaments.
On 23 July 2011, Iraq played a FIFA World Cup qualifier on home ground for the first time since 2002. They played against Yemen in front of a crowd of 20,000 people in the Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil. However, on 23 September 2011, FIFA banned Iraq from playing their qualifiers at home yet again due to fears over security and a breach of safety regulations in the match with Jordan.
2 years later, on 22 March 2013, FIFA lifted the ban on international friendlies in Iraqi stadiums. Four days later, Iraq played their first international friendly match in Baghdad since 2009 against Syria in front of a crowd of over 50,000 people in the Al-Shaab Stadium and won the game 2–1. Two months later, they played another friendly at the Al-Shaab Stadium, this time against Liberia. On 3 July 2013, FIFA barred Iraq from hosting international football friendlies due to a massive surge in nationwide violence, barely three months after world football's governing body gave Baghdad the go-ahead.
On 9 May 2017, FIFA lifted the ban partially on international friendlies in the cities of Basra, Karbala, and Erbil. Iraq played their first ever international game at the 65,000-seater Basra Sports City Stadium on 1 June 2017, beating Jordan, 1–0.
It was also announced in early 2018 that Iraq will host the 2019 WAFF Championship in August 2019.
Iraq national team supporters are known for chanting "O Victorious Baghdad" during the Iraqi team's matches.
Always remains High, O Victorious Baghdad, ( أتضلي دايما فوق، منصورة يا بغداد )
And to see your eternal Glory, O Victorious Baghdad. ( و نشوفج بعز دوم ، منصورة يا بغداد )
O Victorious Baghdad, O Victorious Baghdad, ( منصورة يا بغداد، منصورة يا بغداد )
Another famous chant is "the first goal is coming" ("هسه يجي الاول") which is chanted in the beginning of the match. A succeeding chant is "the second goal is coming" ("هسه يجي الثاني"); this is usually chanted repeatedly after Iraq score a goal to motivate the players to score another.
Iraq's traditional home kit is white, with either green or black trimmings. The away kit is traditionally green, with white trimmings.
Previous kit coloursEdit
The Iraqi national football team kit has previously been manufactured by brands such as Adidas, Puma, Nike, Diadora, Jack & Jones, Lotto, Umbro and Peak and its current manufacturer is Jako.
|2004–2006||Jack & Jones|
Unlike most other national teams, Iraq kits usually have the country's flag on them rather than the Football Association's logo, although the FA's logo has appeared on kits before, most recently from 2014–2015. However, in some cases both the flag and the FA's logo have not featured on the kit and have been replaced with other logos. From 1985–1986, the coat of arms of Iraq featured in the centre of the kit (occasionally only the part of the logo containing the flag was used), meanwhile from 2000–2002, Iraq mainly used a logo that featured the vertical black, white and red bands of the Iraq flag underneath the name Iraq written in Arabic in green text. In the 2005 West Asian Games, a logo featuring black and white bands underneath a red semicircle featured on the kit with the three stars of the flag shown in the white band. In the 2007 WAFF Championship and part of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, Iraq reverted to using the logo that they had used from 2000–2002.
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
FIFA World CupEdit
AFC Asian CupEdit
Former senior competitionsEdit
The list shown below shows the Iraq national football team all-time international record against opposing nations.
|Afghanistan||2||2||0||0||7||1||+6||14 April 1975||AFC|
|Algeria||7||3||4||0||5||2||+3||23 February 1978||CAF|
|Australia||11||2||2||7||8||14||−6||7 June 2008||AFC|
|Azerbaijan||1||1||0||0||1||0||+1||15 November 2009||UEFA|
|Bahrain||27||13||10||4||43||22||+21||26 November 2010||AFC|
|China||17||9||2||6||20||18||+2||24 December 2018||AFC|
|Chinese Taipei||5||5||0||0||18||3||+15||17 November 2015||AFC|
|DR Congo||2||2||0||0||3||1||+2||31 March 2015||CAF|
|Finland||2||2||0||0||3||0||+3||7 February 1979||UEFA|
|India||6||4||2||0||11||2||+9||11 November 2010||AFC|
|Indonesia||7||6||1||0||17||3||+14||19 November 2013||AFC|
|Iran||23||5||6||12||20||31||−11||18 March 2017||AFC|
|Japan||12||2||3||7||8||18||−10||28 November 1982||AFC|
|Jordan||43||25||10||8||66||39||+27||26 March 2019||AFC|
|Kenya||2||2||0||0||4||1||+2||5 October 2017||CAF|
|Kyrgyzstan||2||2||0||0||9||1||+8||27 May 2000||AFC|
|Kuwait||33||15||10||8||46||34||+12||9 January 2013||AFC|
|Lebanon||15||9||6||0||24||7||+17||26 August 2015||AFC|
|Libya||11||7||3||1||17||6||+11||29 August 1999||CAF|
|Macau||2||2||0||0||13||0||+13||21 April 2001||AFC|
|Malaysia||6||3||3||0||9||3||+6||20 October 2003||AFC|
|Mauritania||1||1||0||0||2||0||+2||8 July 1985||CAF|
|Morocco||7||2||4||1||6||3||+3||16 August 1985||CAF|
|Myanmar||4||4||0||0||13||0||+7||22 October 2003||AFC|
|North Korea||8||5||1||2||10||5||+5||21 February 2014||AFC|
|Nepal||3||3||0||0||16||3||+13||23 April 2001||AFC|
|New Zealand||3||2||1||0||6||0||+6||24 March 1973||OFC|
|Oman||24||12||6||6||41||21||+20||18 December 2012||AFC|
|Pakistan||9||7||1||1||40||6||+34||22 October 2007||AFC|
|Palestine||15||12||3||0||35||5||+30||28 December 2018||AFC|
|Poland||5||1||2||2||3||7||−4||29 February 1980||UEFA|
|Qatar||31||13||9||9||37||30||+7||26 December 2017||AFC|
|Saudi Arabia||35||16||9||10||53||31||+22||28 February 2018||AFC|
|Sierra Leone||1||1||0||0||1||0||+1||23 May 2012||CAF|
|Singapore||6||5||0||1||20||5||+15||29 February 2012||AFC|
|South Korea||19||2||11||6||16||21||−5||18 October 1984||AFC|
|Syria||29||16||8||5||43||23||+20||20 March 2019||AFC|
|Tajikistan||1||1||0||0||2||1||+1||3 August 1999||AFC|
|Thailand||17||10||5||2||45||18||+27||31 August 2017||AFC|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1||0||0||1||0||2||−2||CONCACAF|
|Turkmenistan||2||2||0||0||6||2||+4||22 July 2004||AFC|
|United Arab Emirates||26||9||10||7||38||27||+11||5 September 2017||AFC|
|Uzbekistan||8||1||2||5||5||9||−4||1 September 2000||AFC|
|Vietnam||4||3||1||0||7||3||+4||8 January 2019||AFC|
|Yemen||8||8||1||0||24||3||+21||12 January 2019||AFC|
|Total||539||256||154||133||832||485||+352||26 March 2019|
|Statistics vs. Kuwait|
Iraq's rivalry with Kuwait is considered as the Arab world's greatest football rivalry of all time. The rivalry began in the mid-1970s and it was the decade from 1976 until 1986 that saw the golden age of football for arguably the finest teams the region has produced. Both nations imposed their complete domination on the Gulf region, and from the Arabian Gulf Cup's inception in 1970 until 1990, the tournament was won by only two teams: Kuwait, seven times (1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1982, 1986, 1990), and Iraq, three times (1979, 1984, 1988), despite Iraq's absence in the first three editions and their withdrawal from two others.
Iraq and Kuwait took their increasingly bitter rivalry to a new level on 11 June 1976. The two met in the semi-final of the AFC Asian Cup in Tehran; Kuwait took the lead twice, but Iraq came roaring back twice. And then, in the 10th minute of extra time, Fathi Kameel scored the winner for Kuwait. In 1979, the year Iraq clinched their first Arabian Gulf Cup with the help of a 3–1 win over Kuwait, the two met in a qualifier for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow; both managed to qualify to the Olympic Games, and both made it to the quarter-finals there. Iraq also qualified for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and 1988 Games in Seoul. Iraq won the gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games by defeating Kuwait 1–0 in the final, while Kuwait won the 1980 AFC Asian Cup, which they hosted. The nations also left their mark on the world stage. Kuwait qualified for the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain. Iraq matched that in Mexico 1986.
As Iraq and Kuwait traded Gulf titles in 1988 and 1990, few could have imagined that their rivalry on the football field would be replaced by an altogether more catastrophic one on the battlefield. Because of the Gulf War, football would never be the same again. Iraq and Kuwait were in complete avoidance and never met for more than a decade; in fact, the first footballing meeting of any sort between the countries was in the 2003 edition of the Arab Champions League when Iraqi giants Al-Shorta, former winners of the tournament, faced off against Al-Kuwait and drew 2–2. Kuwait's Blues had a relative recovery of sorts, winning the Gulf Cup in 1996 and 1998, before securing a record tenth title in 2010. Iraqi football, because of the torturer-in-chief Uday Hussein's reign of terror as head of the football association, would take far longer to recover. When it did, it was in glorious fashion, with the Lions of Mesopotamia winning the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.
|Statistics vs. Iran|
Iraq and Iran are rivals. Before 2015, the rivalry was not such a football-inspired ill-feeling between the two, but more of geography, religion and history. Iran and Iraq are neighbouring countries, sharing a long history. In contemporary era, especially during the reign of Saddam Hussein, the two countries had bad relations and fought the Iran–Iraq War for 8 years. In 2001, for the first time in decades, an Iran-Iraq match was not held at a neutral venue.
The rivalry between the two teams was escalated after the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. The two sides faced each other in the quarter-final with Iraq prevailing 7–6 on penalties after a sensational 3–3 draw in Canberra; the game was described as one of the best in the tournament's history. After the game, Iranian supporters voiced their anger at the referee's performance, even going as far to claim that he should receive a life ban for the sending off of an Iranian player, and also launched allegations against Iraqi player Alaa Abdul-Zahra claiming he was not qualified to play due to an older doping case six months prior to the competition, in an attempt to get Iraq kicked out of the tournament and themselves reinstated into the semi-finals; their complaint was rejected by the AFC. Iraq eventually finished fourth in the tournament with Iran failing to make the semi-finals for the third straight time. It took two years for the teams to meet again when Iraq played away from home in a friendly match in Tehran; Iraq managed to win again, this time a 1–0 victory, to put an end to Iran's two-year unbeaten streak, and tensions between the two sets of supporters have never been greater.
|Statistics vs. Saudi Arabia|
Iraq and Saudi Arabia are often considered to be the two greatest Arab football teams in the Middle East and Asia. The beginnings of the footballing rivalry between them dates back to the 1970s, but it was only after the 1990s that the great rivalry between two Arab nations truly developed since it was previously overshadowed by Iraq's rivalries with Iran and Kuwait.
The rivalry has also had elements of historical, complicated relations. The two countries used to be allies against Iran during the Iran–Iraq War. However, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, culminating the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia and Iraq had hostile relations, and football was commonly used to fuel the hatred between two countries competing for Arab pride. This made the rivalry emerge as one of the newest rivalries in the continent. Recent warming relations between Iran and Iraq (the former has also had a rivalry with Saudi Arabia) further deepens the competition between the two Arab nations, despite efforts to improve relations that are still ongoing.
Recent results and fixturesEdit
Win Draw Loss
|4 August 2018 Friendly||Palestine||0–3||Iraq||Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium, Al-Ram|
|17:00 UTC+3||Report||Referee: Murad Al Zawahreh (Jordan)|
|10 September 2018 Friendly||Kuwait||2–2||Iraq||Ali Sabah Al-Salem Stadium, Al Farwaniyah|
|18:30 (UTC+3)||Report||Referee: Tihomir Pejin (Croatia)|
|11 October 2018 Friendly||Iraq||0–4||Argentina||Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, Riyadh|
|21:00 (UTC+3)||Report||Referee: Jarred Gillett (Australia)|
|15 October 2018 Friendly||Saudi Arabia||1–1||Iraq||King Saud University Stadium, Riyadh|
||Referee: Peter Green (Australia)|
|20 November 2018 Friendly||Iraq||0–0||Bolivia||Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium, Al-Ain|
|20:00 (UTC+4)||Report||Referee: Yaqoub Al Hammadi (United Arab Emirates)|
|24 December 2018 Friendly||Iraq||2–1||China||Suheim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha|
|15:00 (UTC+3)||Report||Referee: Ali Shaban (Kuwait)|
|8 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Iraq||3–2||Vietnam||Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi|
|17:30 (UTC+4)||Report||Attendance: 4,779|
Referee: Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (Qatar)
|12 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Yemen||0–3||Iraq||Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah|
|17:30 (UTC+4)||Report||Attendance: 9,757|
Referee: Fu Ming (China PR)
|16 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Iran||0–0||Iraq||Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai|
|20:00 (UTC+4)||Report||Attendance: 15,038|
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
|22 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Qatar||1–0||Iraq||Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi|
Referee: Muhammad Taqi (Singapore)
|20 March 2019 2019 IFC||Iraq||1–0||Syria||Basra International Stadium, Basra|
|26 March 2019 2019 IFC||Iraq||3–2||Jordan||Basra International Stadium, Basra|
|7 June 2019 Friendly||Tunisia||2–0||Iraq||Stade Olympique de Radès, Radès|
|Head coach||Srečko Katanec|
|Assistant coach|| Vlado Radmanović |
|Goalkeeping coach||Nihad Pejković|
|Fitness coach||Xavi Pedro|
|Team manager||Basil Gorgis|
|Team doctor||Qasim Mohammed|
- The following 44 players were called up for the 2019 WAFF Championship (preliminary):
- Match dates: August 2019
- Opposition: TBD
- Caps and goals correct as of: 7 June 2019, after the match against Tunisia.
The following players have also been called up to the Iraq squad within the last 12 months.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|GK||Mohammed Gassid||10 December 1986||69||0||Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya||2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019|
|GK||Fahad Talib||21 October 1994||3||0||Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya||v. Saudi Arabia, 15 October 2018|
|DF||Hussam Kadhim||17 October 1987||24||0||Al-Shorta||v. Jordan, 26 March 2019|
|DF||Waleed Salim||5 January 1992||49||1||Al-Shorta||2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019|
|DF||Ahmed Abdul-Ridha||2 April 1997||4||0||Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya||v. China, 24 December 2018|
|MF||Ali Husni INJ||23 May 1994||26||3||Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya||2019 AFC Asian Cup, January 2019|
|MF||Brwa Nouri RET||23 January 1987||9||1||Bali United||v. Bolivia, 20 November 2018|
|MF||Saad Abdul-Amir||19 January 1992||78||4||Al-Shorta||v. Kuwait, 10 September 2018|
|MF||Yaser Kasim||10 May 1991||19||3||Unattached||v. Kuwait, 10 September 2018|
|FW||Mohammed Shokan||21 May 1993||9||1||Al-Minaa||v. Palestine, 4 August 2018|
SUS Player suspended
- World Cups
- Asian Cups
- 1972 AFC Asian Cup squad
- 1976 AFC Asian Cup squad
- 1996 AFC Asian Cup squad
- 2000 AFC Asian Cup squad
- 2004 AFC Asian Cup squad
- 2007 AFC Asian Cup squad
- 2011 AFC Asian Cup squad
- 2015 AFC Asian Cup squad
- 2019 AFC Asian Cup squad
- Confederations Cups
- Olympic Games
- Since 1992, the Olympic Games has been part of the under-23 team's record.
- Asian Games
- Since 2002, the Asian Games has been part of the under-23 team's record.
- Regional tournaments
- 2009 Arabian Gulf Cup squad
- 2011 Pan Arab Games squad
- 2012 Arab Nations Cup squad
- 2013 Arabian Gulf Cup squad
- 2014 Arabian Gulf Cup squad
- 2017–18 Arabian Gulf Cup squad
- As of 28 February 2018
- Players in bold are still available for selection.
|#||Name||Caps||Goals||First cap||Latest cap|
|1||Younis Mahmoud||148||57||19 July 2002||29 March 2016|
|2||Hussein Saeed||137||78||5 September 1976||3 March 1990|
|3||Ahmed Radhi||121||62||21 February 1982||20 June 1997|
|Adnan Dirjal||8||11 December 1978||3 March 1990|
|5||Alaa Abdul-Zahra||114||15||8 June 2007||2 January 2018|
|6||Hawar Mulla Mohammed||113||19||31 August 2001||12 June 2012|
|Nashat Akram||17||5 October 2001||4 June 2013|
|Ali Rehema||2||8 June 2005||29 March 2016|
|9||Mahdi Karim||110||11||12 October 2001||28 February 2018|
|10||Raad Hammoudi||104||0||8 February 1976||21 February 1987|
All-time top goalscorersEdit
- As of 28 February 2018
- Players in bold are still available for selection
|Hawar Mulla Mohammed||2001–2012||113||0.17|
- AFC Asian Cup
- Asian Games[b]
- WAFF Championship
- West Asian Games
- Gold medal: 2005
- Arab Nations Cup
- Pan Arab Games
- International Friendship Championship
- Champions: 2019
- Al-Quds Cup
- Champions: 2018 (shared)
- UAE International Cup
- Champions: 2009
- Peace Cup
- Champions: 2003
- International Friendship Cup
- Champions: 1999
- Nehru Cup
- Merdeka Tournament
- Champions: 1981, 1995
- Peace and Friendship Cup
- Champions: 1989
- Merlion Cup
- Champions: 1984
- Tripoli Fair Tournament
- Champions: 1967
- Iraq's Asian Cup win qualified them for the Afro-Asian Cup of Nations, which was to be a match played in November 2008 against Egypt hosted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. However, the match was eventually cancelled.
- The Asian Games has been part of the Olympic Team's record since 2002; since then Iraq has achieved one silver medal and one bronze medal. Likewise the Olympic Games has been part of the Olympic Team's record since 1992; since then Iraq has achieved fourth place once.
- No third place match was played; Iraq ranked above Yemen based on overall record in the tournament for the purpose of this list.
- "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 14 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
- Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". eloratings.net. 16 June 2019. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- "Trophy Cabinet". Iraqi-Football.com.
- "AFC Asian Cup 2007". Iraqi-Football.com.
- "West Asian Games 2005". Iraqi-Football.com.
- "1986 World Cup". Iraqi-Football.com.
- "FIFA Confederations Cup 2009". Iraqi-Football.com.
- Mubarak, Hassanin (21 March 2013). "Iraqi Football History". IraqSport.
- "History". Iraqi-Football.com.
- "28 October 1993 - The Agony Of Doha". This Day in Football History. 28 October 2015.
- "1999 Results". NIIIIS (in Arabic).
- "Footballers who paid the penalty for failure". The Guardian. 19 April 2003.
- "Saddam's son tortured defeated footballers - Telegraph". 30 November 2017. Archived from the original on 30 November 2017.
- "Iraq National Team's Greatest 10 Moments of the 21st Century". Iraqi-Football.com.
- "Player Records". Iraqi-Football.com.
- Mubarak, Hassanin (9 May 2013). "The game that shook a nation: 2007 Gulf Cup". Iraq Sport.
- "Olympics 2004". Iraqi-Football.com.
- "Iraq in historic Asian Cup win". Al-Jazeera. 29 July 2007.
- "Il calcio riporta la festa in Iraq Al Maliki: "È il trionfo dell'impossibile"". repubblica.it (in Italian). 29 July 2007.
- "Iraqi Football Association suspended". FIFA.com. 20 November 2009.
- "FIFA lifts suspension on Iraq". FourFourTwo. 19 March 2010.
- "Brazil legend Zico in line to take over as manager of Iraq". Mail Online. 12 August 2011.
- "Australia, Japan to go head-to-head following Asian draw". FIFA.com. 12 April 2016.
- "Iraq Football Association gives Radhi Shenaishil the sack" (PDF). Iraqi-Football.com.
- "Basim Qasim to lead Iraq for remaining World Cup Qualifiers" (PDF). Iraqi-Football.com.
- "Katanec excited to lead Iraq". the-afc.com. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
- AFC green-light to Arbil as venue Archived 19 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "FIFA officially lifts ban on Iraqi stadiums for international friendlies" (PDF). Iraqi-Football.com.
- "FIFA Lifts Iraq's Stadium Ban on International Friendly Matches". Soccer Iraq. 9 May 2017.
- "History is made as Iraq beat Jordan in the first game at Basra Sports City" (PDF). Iraqi-Football.com.
- "JAKO Blog – JAKO-Team im Irak". Jako.de. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- FIFA.com. "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking - Associations - Iraq - Men's". FIFA.com. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
- Ali Khaled. "Storied Gulf Cup rivalry between Iraq and Kuwait survives war".
- Duerden, John. "Asia awaits neighbourly rivalry". ESPN. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- Montague, James (13 January 2011). "Pitch Warfare: Iran face Iraq in soccer grudge match". CNN. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Iran-Iraq classic rivalry". Iran Daily (4924). 5 November 2014. p. 11.
- "Asian Cup: Iran claims Iraq's Alaa Abdul-Zahra tested positive, lodges complaint about quarter-final result". 25 January 2015.
- "IRAQ SECURE MUCH-NEEDED WIN OVER RIVALS IRAN IN FRIENDLY" (PDF). Iraqi-Football.com. 18 March 2017.
- "Iraq National Team's Greatest 10 Moments of the 21st Century". Iraqi-Football.com. 15 August 2016. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Results and Fixtures". Iraqi-Football.com.
- RSSSF (Hassanin Mubarak) (19 May 2016). "Iraq – Record International Players". rsssf.com. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
Media related to Iraq national football team at Wikimedia Commons
- Iraq national football team website
- RSSSF – Iraq men's national football team international games
- National and International IraqI Information of Soccer (NIIIIS)
- Official Iraq national football team on FIFA.com
- Iraq Abroad-Based Players Official Website ‹See Tfd›(in Arabic)
- Hassanin Mubarak's blog on Iraqi football