The Iraqi cup of joy

EVEN AS tens of thousands took to the treacherous streets in Baghdad to celebrate the rare moment of joy that a soccer victory over three-time champions Saudi Arabia had brought to the beleaguered country, their fellow countrymen in the UAE too were not to be left behind.

They were out there in force, hundreds of them, in Sharjah, by the Buhaira Corniche, waving the flags, cheering and generally creating enough noise for people to know that they were having their moment under the sun. Little girls climbed on to the shoulders of their brothers, the teens, too heavy or too tall to do the same, wore the flags like bandanas on their heads and pretty women took to wearing the colours of joy. Families too brought their brand of collective fun to the streets as they zipped around merrily craning their heads out of the windows to get a whiff of the maddening excitement that had the entire country in its grip.

The revelers spanning the country's sectarian and ethnic divisions danced, sang and waved flags and posters of the team Sunday after Iraq beat three-time champion Saudi Arabia 1-0 to take the Asian Cup.

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