The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Football comes home to Iraq with international friendly against Syria Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Football comes home to Iraq with international friendly against Syria

Fans cheer during a friendly match between Iraq and Syria in Karbala. [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Iraq and Syria's national football teams drew 1-1 in a friendly game at the Karbala stadium south of Baghdad on Monday.

Iraq and Syria's national football teams drew 1-1 in a friendly game at the Karbala stadium south of Baghdad on Monday in the first international match to be held at the site since its construction in 2016.

Syria opened the scoring with a long range volley from Firas al-Khatib before Iraq equalised shortly before half-time through an own goal by Syrian defender Amro Jeniyat.

Around 30,000 spectators crammed into the stadium to watch the game, which signified a return to normality for the football-mad country after a bitter military campaign to oust the Islamic State group.

It was the first game between the two countries on Iraqi soil since 2012.

A day earlier, Iraqi and Syrian footballers had to be evacuated from their shared Karbala hotel after a huge earthquake on the Iraq- Iran border, which killed more than 400 people in Iran.

Football's governing body FIFA had banned Iraq from hosting international friendlies in 2013 after a coach was killed by security forces.

The ban was lifted in May this year, with Iraq playing Jordan a month later before a crowd of 65,000 in Basra in their first game on home soil for four years.

Throughout the match the national television channel broadcasted a commentator with a nationalist message, reflecting the hard days Iraq has faced.

"After the liberation of the land in Mosul, to the liberation of the stadium in Basra. Iraq conquers".

When the Karbala stadium was inaugurated in 2016 Iraqi fans held banners reading: "FIFA: football is our life, let us live".

Most Popular

Read More