Pointless Iraq take positives after exit

Iraq coach Muwafaq Adlool conceded his side’s attempts to take something tangible away from this Fifa U-17 World Cup were torn asunder by Nigeria’s opening onslaught.

By Alex Leach

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sun 27 Oct 2013, 11:31 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:08 AM

Heading into Friday’s third – and final – Group F fixture at Al Ahli’s Rashid Stadium, the Iraqi youngsters had yet to pick up a point having lost both of their previous pool-phase matches to Mexico (3-1) and Sweden (4-1).

Their subsequent negative goal difference (-5) made qualification for the knockout stages a remote and unlikely prospect indeed, so the onus presumably was on playing for pride and putting in a performance.

Any hope of doing exactly that though was quickly dispelled as Manu Garba’s rampant Super Eaglets stormed into a 2-0 lead after only four minutes and they ultimately ran riot in a 5-0 rout.

“If you concede twice early on in a game, it’s hard to come back and you saw how disappointed the younger, inexperienced players were,” Adlool admitted.

“This complicated our mission. We wanted to do better, but to concede so early gave our young players much disappointment.”

Iraq duly joined New Zealand, Panama, the hosting UAE and Venezuela in exiting the competition with a nought in the points column of their respective tables.

However, they can seemingly take plenty away from – and out of – this fleeting experience overall, especially having just debuted at this youth-level showpiece for the very first time.

“We’ll still take a lot from this campaign,” added Adlool, who stressed Group F was far from “easy” for the Asian newcomers.

“It was a good lesson for the players, the coaching staff and Iraqi as a whole. We put in three very good performances.

“We played two teams (Mexico and Nigeria) who had won this competition five times between them.

“Still, those are the games that make you better. You want to play against those types of players and see how they play.

“You learn how much pressure there is at this level, what you need to focus on and how you should prepare yourself. You play against teams from all over the world and that’s something that helps a player grow.”

That viewpoint was supported too by Adlool’s coaching counterpart Garba, who graciously offered up words of encouragement to Nigeria’s opponents in his post-match Press conference.

“Iraq are not a bad team,” he commented following a pretty one-sided game that arguably implied the contrary. “They will be very strong in two years’ time at U20 level.”

Garba meanwhile rated his own side’s free-scoring showing as merely “above average” and – in an ominous warning to the rest of the field – stressed there was yet more to come from them.

“My team did not play any friendly matches for about a month ahead of this tournament,” he explained. “So – as the competition progresses – we can only get better.”


More news from