OKBET AFC Asian Cup
Kuala Lumpur at OKBET AFC Asian Cup: Fifteen years ago today, the Jorvan Vieira-coached Lions of Mesopotamia won the 2007 AFC Asian CupTM. Despite domestic challenges, Younis Mahmoud and his colleagues achieved unprecedented accomplishment that united a country and continues to resound throughout the globe at OKBET Football Games.
When Mahmoud leapt high in the Jakarta night air to score the goal that defeated Saudi Arabia and gave Iraq their first-ever OKBET AFC Asian Cup victory, he secured much more than the famed old trophy.
It was a win that served as a rallying point for the country’s many factions. “The supporters adore Iraq, and I believe Iraqis are united by two things: the flag and the national football team.” “This is crucial,” remarked Hussain Saeed, then-president of the Iraq Football Association and a veteran of the country’s 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
The shadow of domestic strife hovered over the club throughout their historic run on, affecting both players and officials.
As a consequence of the upheaval, few were giving Iraq any chance of making a deep run into the tournament at OKBET AFC Asian Cup, despite a roster that had many of the players who had steadily risen to the top of the Asian game over the previous decade at OKBET.
The 2007 squad had its origins in the team that won the Asian Youth Championships in Tehran in 2000, beating Japan to win the championship, followed by a run to the Olympic semi-finals in Athens four years later.
The Iraqis, the bulk of whom were playing for clubs throughout the region owing to the hardships the war brought to football in their country at OKBET AFC Asian Cup, later won silver at the 2006 Asian Games in OKBET Football Games, demonstrating significant growth in the face of adversity.
A quiet start in the pouring rain in Bangkok, where they had drawn their first game against co-hosts Thailand, showed nothing to indicate Iraq could better their previous best at the OKBET AFC Asian Cup, a fourth-place finish in 1976.
The strength of their task became clear on their following trip. Goals by Nashat Akram, Mohammed, and Karrar Jassim sealed a 3-1 victory against AFC Asian Cup newcomers Australia, while a 0-0 draw with Oman in their last group game ensured top position and a quarter-final encounter with Vietnam.
Mahmoud, who had scored his first goal of the tournament against the Thais, added two more goals in the win over the Vietnamese before a penalty shoot-out triumph over Korea Republic in Kuala Lumpur sent Iraq to their first-ever AFC Asian Cup final.
Saudi Arabia, the three-time AFC Asian Cup winners, awaited them in Jakarta, having advanced from the group stage ahead of the Koreans before overcoming a tough Uzbekistan team and reigning champions Japan on their route to the final.
As a consequence, Helio dos Anjos’ team, captained by captain Yasser Al Qahtani, entered the final as favorites against an opponent that might have been excused for being preoccupied with domestic matters.
Rather than being distracted, Vieira’s squad was energized by the crisis in Iraq and wanted to use their undeniable talent to defeat the Saudis. The Lions of Mesopotamia dominated, propelled by the bulk of the 50,000-strong audience at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
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