Sunday, July 29, 2007

Iraq upsets Saudi Arabia to win Asian Cup 2007

The Iraqi national football team gave war-weary fellow citizens a reason to celebrate after upsetting three-time winner Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final of the AFC Asian Cup 2007 at Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan, Jakarta, Indonesia. When referee Mark Shield of Australia blew the final whistle, Iraq's skipper and goal scorer Younis Mahmoud ran across the pitch followed by teammates, before they fell into a pile to the jubilation of about 50,000 local supporters.

Iraq, which never before made the Asian Cup final, stunned hot favorites Saudi Arabia with their offensive play, creating several chances. In the second half, an unmarked Mahmoud headed the ball into Saudi's goal after receiving a corner kick from midfielder Hawar Taher. According to AP, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office announced that each Iraqi player would receive US$10,000 for their achievements.

"There was a feeling that we would not lose today. My players too had so much confidence and they were so sure.Honestly, 1-0 is not enough, with all respect to Saudi. We could have reached a better result," the Iraq's Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira, 54, told the post-match press conference. Saudi Arabia's Brazilian coach Helio Dos Angos also praised Iraq. "Iraq deserved to win. They made it very difficult for us to play our football. I feel sorry for the Saudi people but proud of my players and optimistic for the future," he said.

Three players, Al Qahtani, Naohiro Takahara and Mahmoud, finished the tournament as top goalscorers with four goals each. The Abdullah Al Dabal Award for the tournament's most valuable player went to Mahmod, while compatriot Ashat Akram earned the Man of the Match award for the final.

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