0808 GMT February 17, 2019
Although we were all hoping for winning a title after four decades, a few hundred kilometers away the war-torn Iraqi people were remaining glued to their television sets, as we did, to see the win of their national football team.
The country was hardly got rid of years of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and occupation of Western countries led by the US, when it was suddenly faced with a new challenge, the emergence of Daesh terrorist group which has taken control of parts of Iraq since last spring.
Their success in this tournament could come as a remedy for the deep wound left from years of injustice to this oppressed nation, as their championship in the 14th edition of AFC Asian Cup in 2007, just amid the worst political instability in the country, brought about widespread happiness across Iraq.
In his press conference after the match, the Iranian manager Carlos Queiroz said: “Congratulations to the Iraq team for qualifying for the semi-finals… the Iraqi players deserve all respect and consideration from Iranian fans.”
“I wish Iraq the best of luck for the next game against Korea Republic, they played a good game and I hope they have success in their next match,” added the former Real Madrid and Portugal coach.
Even the Australian referee William’s unfairly sending off Iranian defender Mehrdad Pooladi in the 42nd minute of the match, which many believe cost Iran the game, cannot be anyway related to the Iraqi team. I’m not to blame any other person or team, but it’s uncharacteristic of Iraqis to engage in such deals and they do not even have such money to spend and even if they did, they wouldn’t.
WE HAVE STILL A LOT TO BE THANKFUL FOR
But, we have still a lot to be thankful for. I would like to thank our great coach, Carlos Queiroz, who wisely managed the Iranian squad during the games and introduced a number of young talented Iranian players to the world who we hope will be playing for well-known European clubs next season.
On the other hand, as Queiroz said the Iranian players did everything possible on Friday. “I am very proud of the way they played the game and the way they fought.”
“We go home now and it hurts a lot because the players worked hard and committed themselves, they deserve something more and they deserve respect from the fans,” Queiroz said.
“They have all my love and all my support because of the way they fought for the whole 120 minutes and penalties, and I feel very, very proud to be coach of this team and these players.” We, Iranians, too, are proud of these devoted players who spared no effort on Friday to make us happy.