Asian Cup soccer final: Iraq beats Saudi Arabia; Update: Three car bombs intercepted before detonation

posted at 11:12 am on July 29, 2007 by Michelle

The score was 1-0:

Iraq overcame incredible odds to clinch the Asian Cup after beating three-time champions Saudi Arabia 1-0 in Sunday’s showcase final in Jakarta.

Captain Younes Khalef headed home the decider at the far post from Hawar Taher’s corner 18 minutes from time as the Iraqis claimed their first continental title to provide a rare moment of joy for their compatriots back home in the war-scarred nation.

Iraq have shown steely resolve throughout the July 7-29 event, brushing aside tournament favorites Australia 3-1 in the group stage before reaching the final after a penalty shootout win over South Korea in the semifinal in Kuala Lumpur last Wednesday.

Justin Higgins points to an inspiring NYTimes piece about the Iraqi team and the hardships its members faced:

When the Iraqi national soccer team left Malaysia for the finals here, they were delayed three hours in the Kuala Lumpur airport before collapsing into their cramped, economy-class seats.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s team strolled onto its stylish, private jet, accompanied by media representatives, interpreters, doctors and coaches, and was whisked here.

This has been the story for the Iraqis the entire tournament. The underfinanced team has been plagued by endless complications with travel, accommodations, food, training and equipment.

“From A to Z, everything has been a problem from the very beginning,” said Jorvan Vieira, the head coach from Brazil who brushed aside death threats to take his short-term job with Iraq.

And now, Iraqi prepares for post-victory violence. The government has imposed a ban on vehicles and celebratory gunfire around Baghdad. Government employees have been sent home. The US military is on alert, positioning troops as necessary to maintain security nationwide. Before the win, one of the Iraqi soccer player’s invested much hope in pacifying the country:

“We have been suffering for a long time, not just in recent days,” striker Younis Mahmoud told reporters Saturday in Jakarta. “But we know that by winning, we can make the Iraqi people happy. We have reached the final, but that is not enough for us. Our ambition is win the title.

“We are shouldering our responsibility to bring hope to the Iraqi people,” Mahmoud said. “The players are concentrating on the match. It is the only way they can make the people happy.”

Update: It was nice while it lasted. Gunfire has erupted in Baghdad.

Update (AP): Four people are dead from “celebratory gunfire,” but it could have been worse:

Police shot a man attempting to drive a car bomb into a jubilant crowd in the south Baghdad neighborhood of Sadiya about 7:10 p.m., killing him and causing the car to explode without injuring anyone, police said. Earlier in the day, Baghdad police said, they stopped two Saudi Arabian nationals attempting to detonate cars packed with explosives in the eastern neighborhood of Zayuna.

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YES!!!!

Aylios on July 29, 2007 at 11:16 AM

Nice to see the Saudis have their butts handed to them. Way to be Iraq!

mimi1220 on July 29, 2007 at 11:20 AM

Good job Iraq!

Static on July 29, 2007 at 11:20 AM

If we can get the Iraqi soldiers to perform on this level, maybe we can come home. Life is changing for the Iraqi people and that is a good thing. Born and raised under oppression cannot be changed in the blink of an eye.

volsense on July 29, 2007 at 11:22 AM

Yeah! Woo Hoo! Yee Haw! Whoop Dee Doo! Alrighty Then! Boo Yaa! and a partrige in a pear tree!

sonnyspats1 on July 29, 2007 at 11:24 AM

This win is tremendous news for a country that could use some good news. This story kind of reminds me of the 1980 Olympic ice hockey team uniting America in a patriotic spirit. The “malaise” of the Carter years, high interest rates, high inflation, and high unemployment made many Americans feel as though the country was on the decline. The win of the Iraqi soccer team might have an equally, if not better, outcome for the Iraqi people by uniting them not only in a patriotic spirit, but also in fighting against terrorism irregardless of one being a Sunni, Shitte, or Kurd. Perhaps I am being too optimistic, but sports seems to have a way of healing a country in dark times. Could this be a reverse Sammara? Only time can tell I suppose.

reppac122 on July 29, 2007 at 11:24 AM

rata tata tat (AK 47) lol

sonnyspats1 on July 29, 2007 at 11:29 AM

There’s something about a sports victory celebrated by gunfire that suggests there is still much to be done.

fogw on July 29, 2007 at 11:32 AM

Violence breaks out over an international soccer match? Wow, Iraq is looking more like a European democracy everyday.

JackStraw on July 29, 2007 at 11:33 AM

:thumbsup: to the iraqi players :)

trailortrash on July 29, 2007 at 11:34 AM

Finally. Something ALL Iraqis can celebrate together.

Guardian on July 29, 2007 at 11:48 AM

Shiny!

Bacchus on July 29, 2007 at 11:48 AM

So the Iraqis were Rocky, and the Saudis were Ivan Drago?

ReubenJCogburn on July 29, 2007 at 11:57 AM

This is great news and presented to us from “The Boss”

Wade on July 29, 2007 at 11:58 AM

This would be like us winning the gold medal for hockey … in 1776!

And this would NEVER be possible with Uday in charge of the team.

The Iraqi soccer team has players who are Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurd, all playing and winning together. Hopefully this will lead to national unity.

Tony737 on July 29, 2007 at 12:02 PM

Tears of joy, and tears of sadness, all caused by humans.

When the Iraqi national soccer team left Malaysia for the finals here, they were delayed three hours in the Kuala Lumpur airport before collapsing into their cramped, economy-class seats.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s team strolled onto its stylish, private jet, accompanied by media representatives, interpreters, doctors and coaches, and was whisked here.

The spirit overcomes fluff, again!

Entelechy on July 29, 2007 at 12:02 PM

This is an Iraq victory. Iraq is celebrating.

Not a Sunni victory.
Not a Shitte victory.
Not a Kurd victory.

Are you listening Joe Biden?

TunaTalon on July 29, 2007 at 12:08 PM

Who knew that sports would be the national reconciliation event, that would shape Iraqs’ future?

captivated_dem on July 29, 2007 at 12:13 PM

I’ll never understand the Arab love of shooting guns into the air

Hell go get a scimitar and wave it around if it makes you feel better.

Defector01 on July 29, 2007 at 12:13 PM

I can almost hear the crowd celebrating… lalalalalala!

Zorro on July 29, 2007 at 12:14 PM

Did Harry Reid predict the soccer match was lost before it was finished?

Had they lost it would have been Boosh’s fault, of course!

It would be great if a SOCCER MATCH was the catalyst for unifying Iraq and handing the democrat defeatist their very small, shriveled cajones on a platter.

SouthernGent on July 29, 2007 at 12:23 PM

I can almost hear the crowd celebrating… lalalalalala!

Zorro on July 29, 2007 at 12:14 PM

I know EWWW I hate that.

sonnyspats1 on July 29, 2007 at 12:24 PM

The Iraqis could use some national pride. I’m glad they won.

krabbas on July 29, 2007 at 12:32 PM

SouthernGent on July 29, 2007 at 12:23 PM

Did Harry Reid predict the soccer match was lost before it was finished?

He probably has intelligence from Tommy, that the Saudis’ let the Iraqis’ win as a, token “gesture of support”, in their efforts to help restore Iraqi sovereignty……or something in that vein.

captivated_dem on July 29, 2007 at 12:39 PM

Over here in Qatar (being a small country naturally they are for the underdog) they are erupting celebrations cars with kids on the roof people in the streets

EricPWJohnson on July 29, 2007 at 12:39 PM

Booyah!

JackStraw on July 29, 2007 at 12:42 PM

gunfire erupts is the headline…&$&^%(*&($^%#% and curse them. Atleast be Iraq wins…small Gunfire erups. I really am losing it today.

tomas on July 29, 2007 at 1:10 PM

“The players have made us proud, not the greedy politicians. Once again, our national team has shown that there is only one, united Iraq.”

In the scheme of things it won’t suddenly unite the country, but it is a nice step forward. The victory can be celebrated and enjoyed by Sunni, Shia, and Kurds together.

As for the gunfire, there have been riots in the US after sports teams have won titles. I have a recollection of Detroit going nuts years ago overturning cars and setting them on fire. It is different with Iraq being in the middle of a war.

Mallard T. Drake on July 29, 2007 at 1:12 PM

Headline you wont read:
The surge works – Iraq wins.

faraway on July 29, 2007 at 1:13 PM

The curfew lets Iraqis get some relief from their daily doses of carnage and misery. If adoring fans are allowed to participate in a home coming celebration of sorts it would give the people more exposure to some semblance of sanity. This is what its all about. Freedom, yes get a long cool drink my friends, savor the taste.

sonnyspats1 on July 29, 2007 at 1:16 PM

If only the people would understand the meaning of teamwork as their winning team does.

If they had been fighting among themselves, the Saudis would be cheering in Medina today.

Do they want the Saudis cheering about anything?

Think about it Iraqis.

The Saudis.

profitsbeard on July 29, 2007 at 1:45 PM

Tony737 on July 29, 2007 at 12:02 PM

We can surely hope. Considering how nuts most of the world is about futbol, this can go a long way towards building a sense of Iraqi national pride.

infidel4life on July 29, 2007 at 1:50 PM

Well done. But I still don’t care about Soccer

Dirthead on July 29, 2007 at 1:51 PM

Violence breaks out over an international soccer match? Wow, Iraq is looking more like a European democracy everyday

JackStraw on July 29, 2007 at 11:33 AM

I actually did lol on that one :-)

I can almost hear the crowd celebrating… lalalalalala!

Zorro on July 29, 2007 at 12:14 PM

Always reminds me of “Zina the Princess Warrior!”

Congratulations Iraq! Too bad they can’t celebrate in the open in Baghdad though. Perhaps in time if we don’t bail on ‘em.

Ordinary1 on July 29, 2007 at 2:38 PM

Good going Iraq. National pride is great, isn’t it?

And they won without the threat of death from Saddam and his boys.

BobK on July 29, 2007 at 2:50 PM

Everyone loves an underdog! Kudos to the Iraqi team!

synycalwon on July 29, 2007 at 3:12 PM

The wonderful thing is the Iraqis have something to be proud of. The sad thing is the insurgents would like to put a bomb in the team picture and kill everyone of them.

volsense on July 29, 2007 at 3:56 PM

What a great victory.

congsan on July 29, 2007 at 3:58 PM

Baghdad police said, they stopped two Saudi Arabian nationals attempting to detonate cars packed with explosives in the eastern neighborhood of Zayuna.

And so the Saudis continue their mischief.

Zorro on July 29, 2007 at 4:08 PM

Baghdad police said, they stopped two Saudi Arabian nationals attempting to detonate cars packed with explosives in the eastern neighborhood of Zayuna.

AQ leadership knows that victory will unit Iraq and that a united Iraq will lead to their defeat.

AQ Democratic leadership knows that victory will unit Iraq and that a united Iraq will lead to their defeat.

That sentence structure works several ways, but the HA folk already understand that.

TunaTalon on July 29, 2007 at 4:18 PM

Congratulations to the Iraqi team and Iraq. And let’s give the Iraqi people some credit. They did vote three times, despite violence that would have deterred many, in the process of adopting a democratic written Constitution and democratically electing their leadership. That their elected leadership seems to disappoint at times should not be held against the Iraqi people; I would not want Americans judged by the U.S. Congress. Our hope in the Iraq War really is that the Iraqi people turn against the radical Islamists, whoch seems ot be happening. If we shjoe some fortitude, we just may realize that we did a good thing in freeing the Iraqi people from Saddam and then helping fight off the radical Islamists.

Phil Byler on July 29, 2007 at 4:33 PM

Baghdad police said, they stopped two Saudi Arabian nationals attempting to detonate cars packed with explosives in the eastern neighborhood of Zayuna.

Boy, talk about your sore losers!

Mallard T. Drake on July 29, 2007 at 5:09 PM

Regarding the car bombs. The Iraqis are wise enough to know that the Saudis are their enemies. Are we wise enought to know that. When you make deals with the Devil he ultimately will collect with interest.

Mojave Mark on July 29, 2007 at 5:09 PM

I question the timing.

krabbas on July 29, 2007 at 5:50 PM

Damn shame the Iraqi people cant see just how much good will is being expressed towards them in this thread by Americans, might just surprise them.

doriangrey on July 29, 2007 at 6:16 PM

GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAL!

SoulGlo on July 29, 2007 at 7:17 PM

Perhaps I am being too optimistic, but *sports seems to have a way of healing a country in dark times. Could this be a reverse Sammara? Only time can tell I suppose.

reppac122 on July 29, 2007 at 11:24 AM

You are not being too optimistic.

*But watch the MSM downplay this.

Mcguyver on July 29, 2007 at 8:12 PM

Car bombs you say! Those Izzies sure know how to liven up a sports event.

jeanie on July 29, 2007 at 10:05 PM

Congratulations Iraq.

xplodeit on July 30, 2007 at 12:18 AM