The Iraqi Team and the Mondial

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After the Iraqi national soccer team was crowned with the 2007 Asia Cup in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, the Iraqi Central Soccer Federation must find a suitable replacement for the departed coach Jorvan Vieira, who has a lot of enticing offers to coach soccer.

Vieira said that he needs to relax and think a lot about his future. The achievement that the Brazilian coach, Jorvan, accomplished is considered to be the most significant success in his professional career.

“We do have a lot of time before we decide who will be the next national coach,” said the VP of the Iraqi Federation, Najih Hmood, when asked about the identity of the new national coach. The President of the Iraqi Federation also denied in a statement to the Al-Malaeb newspaper that the decision of the Brazilian coach was final. He said, “The media made a big deal out of it and said that Vieira definitely left the Iraqi team.” And he added: “I talked to Vieira in Amman before his departure to Morocco and told him to think about this matter and he replied that he will rest for a good while before he makes a decision.”

The drawing for qualifications for the World Cup championships is considered an accurate and just process. That is because it provided fair treatment to the teams that will qualify for the next Mondial finals, especially the last one that was held in Germany in 2006.

The Iraqi team will face the Pakistani team in its first qualification match for Asian representation for Mondial 2010 in South Africa. This match is considered an easy one and if Iraq wins the matches (both home and away) the Iraqi team will qualify directly for the third round, bypassing the second round, because Iraq was ranked 12th, which is a qualification rank.

To provide more detail, there are 43 Asian countries competing to qualify for Mondial. If we exclude the teams of Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea -- those are the teams that qualified for the last Mondial finals in 2006 -- that means we have 38 Asian countries competing for the first round qualification.

They all will play two games, one at home and one away. That will leave us with 19 teams. Out of the 19 teams they will choose 8 countries with the worst record to play two games, one home and one away, to select 4 winning teams that will be added to the other 11 and this way we will end up with 15 countries that will qualify for the first round. These 15 teams will be added to the 5 pre-qualified countries and that will bring the grand total to 20 countries.

That means there will be twenty countries competing in the third round and they will be divided into five groups. Each group consists of four teams. They will all play dual games, one home and one away. The first and second teams from each group will qualify for the next round, which means we will have 10 teams.

The ten teams will compete in the fourth qualification round, where the teams will be chosen for the 2010 Mondial finals.

The ten teams will be split into two groups of five teams each. Once again, they will play one game at home and one away. The first and second teams out of each group will qualify immediately for the World Cup. The third place finisher from each group will play two more games, one home and one away, and the winner will play home and away matches against the team representing Oceania, which most probably will be New Zealand, which is a hot favorite to represent Oceania. The winner will be the fifth team qualifying to play for the World Cup.

In the end, the World Cup qualification matches will be very exhausting for the Asian continent and it will need lot of patience and great endurance in order to finish along this difficult road.

We now return to the Iraqi team, where we said that they have plenty of time. The match against Pakistan should be an easy one even though the Pakistani soccer team has made some progress .That means that an Iraqi coach can coach the Iraqi team for the matches against Pakistan, if the Iraqi Soccer Federation would like to save some money until they have adequate time to contract with a foreign coach.

The Iraqi team will be under a lot of pressure for a very simple reason: They are the Asian champs and the Iraqi people will demand more. We hope that the Iraqi players will be spared injuries which could keep them away from representing their country in the biggest soccer show in the world.

The qualification rounds will last for a whole year, which means that the Iraqi team will play with different players and formations, depending on their ability and their respective team schedules. A player has to be available five days before the official match. The last development regarding the position of the Iraqi team and a possible replacement for Jorvan Vieira during this period was discussed by Mr. Nashat Akram, the playmaker for the Iraqi national team and a current player for the Al-Ain Emerate soccer club. He said that Mr. Adnan Hamad would be the better choice to lead the Mesopotamian Lions in the coming period, justifying his opinion by stating that captain Adnan did a lot of favors for a majority of Iraqi players and participated in their development and selection on all levels: Junior, Youth, Olympic and National levels. He said, “With all due respect to all national coaches, Adnan Hamad is the best choice to lead the Iraqi team in the future.”

It is worth mentioning that Adnan Hamad is currently the coach of the Al-Faisali Jordanian soccer club and his contract expires on 6-30-2008, which makes it difficult to contract him now.

The foreign name most often mentioned to lead the Asian champs is the Norwegian coach, Olson, who was the top contender before the Iraqi Federation signed a contract with the Brazilian, Jovan Vieira, who is a citizen of Portugal.

We would like to remind our readers that the Iraqi team qualified once before for the World Cup in 1986 in Mexico (Mondial Mexico). At that time, the team did not advance because of three losses against Mexico, the home team; Paraguay and Belgium, 1-0, 1-0 and 2-1, respectively.

The question is: will Iraq qualify for the second time in its history for the World Cup finals? It is not a dream that is out of reach, because the Lions of Mesopotamia are ready for all the matches.

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