Today in the third of 8 blogs, I will look at Iraq, a country plagued by war and in need of a sincere morale boost. And this team could be the thing to do it for a time of two weeks or so. Iraq will play in the inaugural match of the tournament against South Africa at 10:00 at the Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg. The are joined in Group A by New Zealand and Spain.
On that date, Iraq will look to continue what has been a pretty good run of late. In the 2004 Olympics, Iraq won fourth in very impressive fashion. And in 2007, they became the first non-East Asian side to win the Asian Cup in a very long time. They beat Australia, Korea, and Saudi Arabia in the tourney and that's how they got here. So, let's look at their squad.
Strength- The unknown has to be this team's strength. No one knows too much about the players but they do know that they leave it all on the field and never give up the game. They are led by two their captain Younis Mahmoud, Hawar Mulla Mohammed, and Nashat Akram. They all play out of country in Qatar, Anorthosis Famagusta, and Twente FC respectively. These three will have to guide the unknown to do well in this tournament or it could end badly for the Iraqis.
Weakness- Experience. This team is very inexperienced and will prove to be a thorn in this team's sides. The first string will be tested, but after that they will be in trouble just like Egypt.
Player to Watch- Emad Mohammed. The 26-year old has already played 75 times for his side and has scored 23 goals. So, about one goal in three games. If this man gets going, Iraq may just make it into the Semi-Finals.
Prediction- In a weak Group A, it will be a very good race for second-place behind Spain. Iraq, South Africa, and New Zealand will all have a decent chance to go through. But I think that Iraq will fall just short and come in third place in the group.
Well, it's been Keeper and I'm out.