Iraq
Nickname(s)Lions of Mesopotamia
AssociationIraq Football Association (IFA)
ConfederationAFC (Asia)
Sub-confederationWAFF (West Asia)
Head coachŽeljko Petrović
CaptainAlaa Abdul-Zahra
Most capsYounis Mahmoud (148)
Top scorerHussein Saeed (78)
Home stadiumBasra International Stadium
FIFA codeIRQ
First colours
Second colours
Third colours
FIFA ranking
Current 75 Steady (23 December 2021)[1]
Highest39 (6 October 2004)
Lowest139 (3 July 1996)
First international
 Morocco 3–3 Iraq
(Beirut, Lebanon; 19 October 1957)
Biggest win
Iraq 13–0 Ethiopia
(Irbid, Jordan; 18 August 1992)
Biggest defeat
 Turkey 7–1 Iraq
(Adana, Turkey; 6 December 1959)
 Brazil 6–0 Iraq
(Malmö, Sweden; 11 October 2012)
 Chile 6–0 Iraq
(Copenhagen, Denmark; 14 August 2013)
World Cup
Appearances1 (first in 1986)
Best resultGroup stage (1986)
Asian Cup
Appearances9 (first in 1972)
Best resultChampions (2007)
Arab Cup
Appearances6 (first in 1964)
Best resultChampions (1964, 1966, 1985, 1988)
WAFF Championship
Appearances7 (first in 2000)
Best resultChampions (2002)
Arabian Gulf Cup
Appearances15 (first in 1976)
Best resultChampions (1979, 1984, 1988)
FIFA Confederations Cup
Appearances1 (first in 2009)
Best resultGroup stage (2009)

The Iraq national football team (Arabic: منتخب العراق لكرة القدم) represents Iraq in international football and is controlled by the Iraq Football Association (IFA), the governing body for football in Iraq. Iraq's usual home venue is the Basra International Stadium.

Iraq are one of the more successful national teams in Asia, having made one FIFA World Cup appearance in 1986, scoring a solitary goal against Belgium. They are one of eight AFC nations to have won the AFC Asian Cup, claiming the title in 2007 in spite of difficult conditions and limited preparation. Iraq defeated some of the favourites in the competition including Australia, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. This qualified them for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup where they earned two points in the group stage, and they later finished fourth at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

Iraq's team is known for its passionate football fans and the national team is also seen as a symbol of hope and unity for Iraqi people.[3] The team reached an all-time high of 39th in the FIFA World Rankings in October 2004 and has previously been named National Team of the Year by AFC and World Team of the Year by World Soccer.

History

Early years

The Iraqi national football team in 1951; they played two games in the Turkish cities of İzmir and Ankara.
The Iraqi national football team in 1951; they played two games in the Turkish cities of İzmir and Ankara.

As early as 1923, an Iraqi team known as Baghdad XI, controlled by the Baghdad Football Association, started to play matches against British Army teams.[4] The Baghdad FA soon disbanded and it was not until 8 October 1948 that the Iraq Football Association was founded. The Iraq FA joined FIFA in 1950 and on 2 May 1951, Iraq played their first match: a 1–1 draw to a team named Basra XI.[5][4]

Iraq's first ever official international game came in the opening game of the 1957 Pan Arab Games in Beirut where Iraq drew 3–3 to Morocco with goals from Ammo Baba, Youra Eshaya (both from Iraq's Assyrian minority) and Fakhri Mohammed Salman.[6][4] One of the members of Iraq's first national team was Youra Eshaya, who in 1954 became the first Iraqi footballer to play abroad and in Europe for English Football League side Bristol Rovers.

In 1962, Iraq appointed their first foreign manager, Romanian coach Cornel Drăgușin. Iraq won their first trophy in 1964 when won the Arab Cup, winning three and drawing one of their four games. In the following edition, they retained their Arab Cup title, beating Syria 2–1 in the final in Baghdad.[4]

1970s

In 1972, Iraq played at their first ever AFC Asian Cup but failed to win a game in the tournament. In March 1973, Iraq played their first ever FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. They finished second in their group, a point behind Australia, therefore failing to qualify for the next round. In the remaining years of the 1970s, Iraq reached the second round of the Asian Games (1974), lost the Arabian Gulf Cup final (1976), finished fourth at the AFC Asian Cup (1976), finished fourth in the Asian Games (1978) and finally hosted and won the Arabian Gulf Cup (1979).[7] The 1976 Asian Cup would be the last Asian Cup that Iraq appeared in for the next 20 years, as they withdrew from the next four editions.

1980s – First Golden Generation

The 1980s was arguably Iraq's most successful period in their history. They started the decade off disappointingly, being knocked out in the first round of qualifiers for the 1982 FIFA World Cup. In 1982, they won the gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games. In 1984, Iraq won the Arabian Gulf Cup. The following year, they won the 1985 Arab Cup and also won the gold medal at the 1985 Pan Arab Games.

1986 FIFA World Cup

Iraq were seeded into the first round of qualifiers where they faced Qatar and Jordan. Iraq topped Group 1B with 6 points, and advanced to the second round. Iraq faced United Arab Emirates in two legs. Iraq defeated UAE 3–2 in Dubai. Iraq lost with 2–1 to UAE in the second leg. Iraq won 4–4 aggregate on away goals and advanced to the final round. In the final round, Iraq tied Syria 0–0 in Damascus. Iraq defeated Syria 3–1 in the second leg in Taif. Iraq won 3–1 on aggregate and qualified to the 1986 FIFA World Cup

At their first game of the Group B at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Iraq played well against Paraguay, losing narrowly 1–0 despite scoring a goal that was controversially disallowed by the referee. Iraq recorded their first World Cup goal in the second game, scoring against Belgium in a 1–2 defeat despite having ten men, with Ahmed Radhi scoring a goal for Iraq. Iraq played against hosts Mexico in the third game, losing 1–0 and being eliminated from the World Cup.

In the following years, Iraq won the 1988 Arabian Gulf Cup and won the 1988 Arab Cup. Overall, Iraq won nine competitions in the 1980s and played in their only World Cup, leading many to believe that this was the golden era of Iraqi football. In 1989, Iraq competed in qualifying for a berth in the 1990 World Cup finals, but they lost a crucial game against Qatar.

1990s – The Dark Era

Following the Gulf War in 1990, Iraq was banned from participating in the Asian Games and in most Arab competitions, leading them to participate in friendly competitions instead.

In 1993, Iraq participated in qualifiers for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and reached the final round but finished fourth in the group, missing out on a World Cup spot by two points. By drawing their last game with Japan 2–2, they denied the Japanese a place in the finals in a match referred to by the Japanese media as the Agony of Doha.[8]

Iraq participated in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup, their first Asian Cup campaign for 20 years of withdrawing from the previous four. They reached the quarter-finals but lost to the United Arab Emirates due to a golden goal scored by Abdulrahman Ibrahim. In 1996, Iraq was ranked 139th in the world, which is their worst FIFA ranking in their history due to inactivity after withdrawing from several tournaments.

In 1997, Iraq participated in qualifiers for the 1998 FIFA World Cup but were knocked out at the first round following two defeats to Kazakhstan.

This period is known as 'The Dark Era' as Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein, abused his control of Iraqi football and tortured players who played poorly, punishing them by sending them to prison, making them bathe in raw sewage and kick concrete balls, and shaving their heads among many other punishments.[9][10]

2000s – Second Golden Generation

The 2000s was widely considered to be the rebirth and rise of one of Iraq's greatest football generation second only to the 1980s generation.

However, Iraq had a rocky beginning. It played in the 2000 AFC Asian Cup but were knocked out at the quarter-final stage again, this time by Japan in a 4–1 loss. Iraq reached the second round of 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification but lost five of their eight second-round games and therefore failed to make the finals. Iraq won their first ever WAFF Championship in 2002, beating Jordan 3–2 in the final after extra time despite being two goals down.

In 2004, Iraq once again reached the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup before getting knocked out by China. In the same year they were knocked out at the second round of 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers by Uzbekistan.

Iraq were ranked as high as 39th in the World Rankings in October 2004 which is their highest ranking position in their history. The following year, Iraq won the gold medal in the West Asian Games by beating Syria in the final via a penalty shootout. In 2007, Iraq were knocked out at the group stage of the Arabian Gulf Cup. The exit from the Gulf Cup happened in very controversial circumstances as Iraq attempted to make an agreement with Saudi Arabia to draw the final game which would put both teams through to the next round; the Iraq manager Akram Salman told the Iraqi players not to win the game but the Saudi Arabian players were unaware of any agreement and went on to win the game and knock Iraq out of the cup.[11] Akram Salman was sacked and Jorvan Vieira appointed as head coach. Under him, Iraq reached the final of the WAFF Championship but lost 2–1 to Iran.

2007 AFC Asian Cup triumph

Iraq playing against Australia in Group A of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup; Iraq won the game 3–1 on their way to winning the cup.
Iraq playing against Australia in Group A of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup; Iraq won the game 3–1 on their way to winning the cup.

In July 2007, Iraq kicked off their 2007 AFC Asian Cup campaign. The squad was made mainly of players that had finished fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games and finished second at the 2006 Asian Games. Vieira only had two months to prepare his team for the tournament, and the team suffered from very poor facilities. The Iraq FA struggled to provide the team with enough kits for the tournament and Iraq had not been able to play any previous games in their own country for security reasons and most of the players had had family members killed in the war.

The team started the tournament with a 1–1 draw against joint-hosts Thailand before producing a 3–1 win over favourites Australia. A draw with Oman followed to put Iraq into the quarter-finals where two goals from Younis Mahmoud against Vietnam put Iraq into the semi-finals for the second time in their history. They manages to knock out one of the best Asian teams, South Korea in the semis via a penalty shootout in which Noor Sabri made a crucial save. After the game, a suicide bomber killed 30 football fans who were celebrating the semi-final win over South Korea and this almost led to the Iraqi team withdrawing from the final, but they decided to go on in honour of the dead and succeeded in doing that after defeating Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final, a game that they dominated from start to finish and that was won by a Younis Mahmoud header. This tournament win is seen as one of the greatest upsets in international history as a war-torn country became international champions in what is described as one of sport's greatest 'fairytales'.[12][13]

Asian Cup aftermath

Vieira stated during the final that he would resign after the Asian Cup.[14] He was replaced by Egil Olsen in September 2007.[15] Under Olsen, Iraq advanced to the third round of World Cup qualifiers, but after a 1–1 draw with China, the FA sacked Olsen and replaced him with Adnan Hamad.[16] Iraq failed to advance to the final round of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as a 1–0 defeat to Qatar saw them finish in third in the group. Following this, the Iraq FA decided to disband the team and sacked Hamad.[17]

Jorvan Vieira was reappointed in September 2008. After a disappointing 2009 Arabian Gulf Cup, Vieira was sacked and replaced by Bora Milutinovic.[18]

2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

In 2009, Iraq participated in only their second FIFA tournament ever: the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, which they qualified for by winning the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. They started the tournament with a 0–0 draw with hosts South Africa, before losing 1–0 to UEFA Euro 2008 winners Spain. Iraq drew the last game 0–0 with New Zealand and were knocked out.

On 20 November 2009, the FIFA Emergency Committee suspended the Iraq FA due to government interference;[19] the suspension was lifted on 19 March 2010.[20]

2010s – Ups and downs

The Iraqi national team pose ahead of their 2019 AFC Asian Cup match against Iran in Dubai.
The Iraqi national team pose ahead of their 2019 AFC Asian Cup match against Iran in Dubai.

Wolfgang Sidka was appointed coach in August 2010 to lead Iraq in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.[21] Iraq reached the quarter finals, as they lost 1–0 to Australia. The match went into extra time with Harry Kewell heading in a goal in the 117th minute just inside the 18-yard box. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, Iraq advanced to the third round but Sidka's contract was not renewed and he was succeeded by Zico in August 2011. Iraq topped the group in the third round, winning 5 of 6 games. However, halfway through the fourth round, Iraq only had 5 points and Zico resigned due to unpaid wages.[22]

Hakeem Shaker took over as interim coach and finished as runners-up in both the 2012 WAFF Championship and 2013 Arabian Gulf Cup. In February 2013, Vladimir Petrović was appointed for the remaining World Cup qualifiers, but lost all three matches and Iraq finished bottom of their group. Petrović was sacked in September 2013 and Hakeem Shaker was reappointed.[23]

On the last matchday, Iraq qualified for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup by beating China 3–1. However, Iraq finished bottom of the group in the 2014 Arabian Gulf Cup leading to the sacking of Hakeem Shaker and the appointment of Radhi Shenaishil.

Iraq began the 2015 AFC Asian Cup campaign with a 1–0 win over Jordan. In the next match, Iraq faced Japan and lost the match 0–1. Iraq then beat Palestine 2–0 and qualified to knockout stage as the Group D runners-up behind Japan with six points. Iraq defeated Iran in the quarter-finals in penalties, 7–6, after the game ended 3–3 after 120 minutes of play. They faced South Korea in the semi-finals but lost 0–2 and failed to progress to the final. Iraq finished the AFC Asian Cup in fourth place, after losing 2–3 to United Arab Emirates in third place match.

After the tournament, Shenaishil returned to managing Qatar SC and Iraq appointed Akram Salman as manager but he was sacked in June 2015 after losing 4–0 to Japan in a friendly match.

Yahya Alwan was appointed in August 2015. Due to poor performances, Abdul-Ghani Shahad replaced him as interim coach for the final qualifier in March 2016. Shahad led Iraq to qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and the final round. Radhi Shenaishil was appointed to lead Iraq in the final round. After losing five of their first seven games, Iraq were eliminated and Shenaishil was sacked.[24] Basim Qasim was appointed in May 2017 to lead Iraq for the remaining qualifiers. The FA decided not to renew his contract in August 2018.

On 3 September 2018, Srečko Katanec was appointed as head coach on a three-year contract.[25] Under Katanec, Iraq reached the round of 16 of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup as they lost 1–0 to eventual champions Qatar.[26]

2020s

Under Katanec, Iraq reached the third round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification with five wins from eight matches including a 2–1 victory against Iran.[27] Iraq also showed great form in the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup, reaching the semi-finals by beating Qatar and United Arab Emirates. Iraq went 19 consecutive matches without losing between 2019 and 2021. Katanec officially departed in July 2021 after six months of unpaid wages and filed a complaint with FIFA.[28]

On 31 July 2021, Dutchman Dick Advocaat was appointed head coach of Iraq.[29] Under Advocaat, Iraq made to a slow start to the third round of World Cup Qualifiers, drawing four games and losing two. On 21 November 2021, one week before the start of the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, Advocaat resigned. Željko Petrović took over on an interim basis for the tournament but Iraq were eliminated from the group stage with two draws and one loss.

Team image

Kit

The Iraqi national football team kit has previously been manufactured by brands such as Adidas, Puma, Nike, Diadora, Jack & Jones, Lotto, Peak and Givova and its current supplier is Umbro.[30][31]

Kit suppliers

Kit supplier Period Notes
Umbro 1984–1986
Flag of West Germany.svg Adidas 1986–1994
Puma 1996
Patrick 2000
Jako 2003–2004
Jack & Jones 2004–2006
Diadora 2006
Lotto 2006
Adidas 2007
Umbro 2007
Peak 2008–2014
Adidas 2014
Jako 2014–2019
Givova 2019–2020
Umbro 2020–present Current deal runs until 2022.[32]

Nickname

Lion in ceramic tile from the Ishtar Gate in Babylon.
Lion in ceramic tile from the Ishtar Gate in Babylon.

The Iraqi team is commonly known as Usood Al-Rafidain (Arabic: أسود الرافدين), meaning "Lions of Mesopotamia". In ancient Mesopotamia, the Babylonian lion was a symbol of power, impetuosity, ferocity, prestige and dominance.[33] This is reflected in the sculpted lions in Babylon, where the processional path is ornamented with ceramic tile bas-reliefs representing a prestigious lion from the time of Nebuchadnezzar II. This kind of representation aimed to glorify the king, master of the beasts, and also represent the defeat of the enemy.[34] Moreover, the Chaldean royal inscriptions depict the king as a ferocious lion to whom nothing can be resisted.[35][36][37] The presence of lions in ancient Iraqi civilization was based on the belief, or desire, that the animals represented would bring with them the virtues they symbolized, so that they could be transmitted to the owners.[38]

Iraq kits throughout history have usually featured the flag of Iraq on them, although the coat of arms of Iraq and the Iraq Football Association logo have both appeared on kits in the past. The national team has occasionally had its own unique logo, the first of which was in 1983. This logo was based on the Iraq flag, with Iraqi written at the top of the crest.[39] From 2000 to 2002, the national team's logo featured a vertical flag with the name Iraq above in green Arabic text. In the 2005 West Asian Games, the team wore a new logo with the red band of the flag appearing in a large semi-circle shape,[40] and in 2007, Iraq briefly reverted to using the logo that they had used from 2000 to 2002. On 23 October 2020, the national team's current logo was revealed, and a star features above the crest to commemorate the nation's 2007 AFC Asian Cup victory.[41]

Rivalries

Main articles: Iran–Iraq football rivalry, Iraq–Saudi Arabia football rivalry, and Iraq–Kuwait football rivalry

Due to geographical location, Iraq maintains strong rivalries with many neighbours.

Iraq's main and traditional rival has been Iran, and they are often considered to be two of the greatest football teams in the Middle East and Asia with one of the greatest rivalries. At the early stage, Iran had proved to be more dominant than Iraq, remaining undefeated from 1964 until 1993. In the contemporary era, especially during the reign of Saddam Hussein, the two countries had bad relations and fought the Iran–Iraq War for eight years.[42][43] Iraqis have considered any matches against Iran as a must-win encounter and are known to treat it differently from any other football matches.[44] Iraq has played 29 matches against Iran with 6 victories, 7 draws, and 16 losses.

Iraq's other rival is Saudi Arabia, and matches between the two teams also draw significant attention from Iraqi fans, with Iraq and Saudi Arabia being recognised as the two most successful Arab teams in Asia. The beginnings of the footballing rivalry between them dates back to the 1970s, but it was only after the 1990s that the rivalry between the two Arab nations truly developed since it was previously overshadowed by Iraq's rivalries with Iran and Kuwait.[45] One of these reasons for the rivalry to develop is due to the bitter Gulf War, where Iraq fought against Saudi Arabia over Kuwait, an ally of Saudi Arabia.[46] These encounters have also been marred with various controversies and hostilities, such as the 21st Arabian Gulf Cup hosting rights, where Iraq was stripped from hosting with the tournament instead being moved to Bahrain, a move which was believed by Iraqis as a deliberate act by Saudi Arabia to remove Iraq's home advantage.[46] Before that, Iraq was also banned from hosting home games against Saudi Arabia due to the Gulf War.[46] Iraq has played 39 matches against Saudi Arabia with 17 victories, 11 draws, and 11 losses

Iraq's rivalry with Kuwait was once considered the greatest football rivalry in the Middle East, until being taken over by Iraq's rivalry with Saudi Arabia due to Kuwait's decline. The rivalry began in the mid-1970s. Because of the Gulf War, Iraq and Kuwait were in complete avoidance and never met for more than 15 years until 2005. Iraq has played 36 matches against Kuwait with 16 victories, 10 draws, and 10 losses.

Supporters

Iraqi fans celebrating Iraq winning the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.
Iraqi fans celebrating Iraq winning the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.

Iraq national team supporters are known for chanting "O Victorious Baghdad" ("منصورة يا بغداد") or "With our souls and our blood, we will redeem you, O Iraq" ("بالروح بالدم نفديك يا عراق") during the Iraqi team's matches.[47]

Another famous chant is "the first goal is coming" ("هسه يجي الاول") which is chanted in the beginning of the match.[48] A succeeding chant is "the second goal is coming" ("هسه يجي الثاني"); this is usually chanted repeatedly after Iraq score a goal to motivate the players to score another.

Home matches in Iraq

Basra International Stadium during the second opening friendly match between Al-Zawraa and Zamalek in 2013.
Basra International Stadium during the second opening friendly match between Al-Zawraa and Zamalek in 2013.

Since 1980, FIFA imposed bans on six occasions that prevented Iraq from hosting competitive international games.

The first ban was imposed in 1980 after an Olympic qualifying play-off between Iraq and Kuwait in Baghdad, where the match referee was attacked by enraged home fans and members of the Iraqi team after the Malaysian official's decision to award a match changing penalty to the Kuwaitis that led to Iraq losing 3–2. The ban was lifted in 1982.[49]

Around the same time, the Iran–Iraq War started and the ban was imposed again. Iraq played their qualifying home games at a neutral venue and still qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and three Olympic Games (Moscow, Los Angeles and Seoul). The ban was lifted in 1988, when the war ended.

Due to the Gulf War, FIFA banned Iraq again from 1990 till 1995. Iraq played at home at the 1998 World Cup qualifiers against Pakistan and Kazakhstan for the first time since 1990.

Iraq played the 2002 World Cup qualifiers at home against Iran (first time since the Iraq-Iran War) Bahrain, and Thailand in the Al-Shaab Stadium in Baghdad. Saudi Arabia refused to play in Iraq because of the tensions with Saddam Hussein.

The Iraq War in 2003 forced Iraq to play their home matches outside the country for security reasons, and so home games were held in Jordan, Iran, Qatar or the UAE.

Iraq resumed playing on home soil on 10 July 2009, winning a friendly 3–0 against Palestine in Erbil. Iraq played the same opponents three days later, in Al-Shaab Stadium in Baghdad, this time winning 4–0 in front of a crowd of over 50,000. The same month, the AFC Executive Committee approved the Franso Hariri Stadium as venue for international matches and clubs in continental tournaments.[50]

On 23 July 2011, Iraq played a FIFA World Cup qualifier on home ground for the first time since 2001. They played against Yemen in front of a crowd of 20,000 people in the Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil. However, on 23 September 2011, FIFA re-imposed the ban due to fears over security and a breach of safety regulations in the match with Jordan.

Two years later, on 22 March 2013, FIFA lifted the ban on international friendlies in Iraqi stadiums. Four days later, Iraq played their first international friendly match in Baghdad since 2009 against Syria in front of a crowd of over 50,000 people in the Al-Shaab Stadium and won the game 2–1. Two months later, they played another friendly at the Al-Shaab Stadium, this time against Liberia. On 3 July 2013, FIFA re-imposed the ban due to a massive surge in nationwide violence, barely three months after world football's governing body gave Baghdad the go-ahead.

On 9 May 2017, FIFA lifted the ban partially on international friendlies in the cities of Basra, Karbalaa, and Erbil. Iraq played their first international game in Basra on 1 June 2017, beating Jordan 1–0. After successfully hosting friendlies, on 16 March 2018, FIFA announced the lifting of the ban on competitive matches in the three cities.[51] However, following the outbreak of 2019 Iraqi protests, FIFA once again imposed competitivr home matches ban on Iraq.[52]

On 27 January 2021, Iraq hosted a friendly match against Kuwait in Basra for the first time since 15 October 1989.[53][54]

Iraq national football team home stadiums
Image Stadium Capacity Location
Basra International Stadium 65,000 Basra
Al-Shaab Stadium 34,000 Baghdad
Al-Madina Stadium 32,000 Baghdad
Karbala International Stadium 30,000 Karbala
Al-Najaf International Stadium 30,000 Najaf
Franso Hariri Stadium 25,000 Erbil
Iraq national football team future home stadiums
Image Stadium Capacity Location Stage
Baghdad Sports City 85,000 Baghdad Proposed
Tajiat Olympic Stadium 60,000 Baghdad Under Construction
Ammo Baba International Stadium 31,200 Baghdad Under Construction
Minaa Stadium 30,000 Basra Under Construction
Al Sunbula Stadium 30,000 Al Diwaniyah Under Construction
Salah Al Din Stadium 30,000 Tikrit Under Construction
Babil Stadium 30,000 Hillah Under Construction
Nineveh Stadium 30,000 Mosul Under Construction
Diyala Stadium 30,000 Baqubah On hold
Nasiriya Stadium 30,000 Nasiriyah On hold

Recent results and fixtures

Main article: Iraq national football team results

Further information: Iraq national football team results (2020–present)

  Win   Draw   Loss   Fixtures

2021

12 January 2021 Friendly United Arab Emirates  0–0  Iraq Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Report Stadium: Zabeel
Attendance: 0
Referee: Ahmed Al-Kaf (Oman)
27 January 2021 Friendly Iraq  2–1  Kuwait Basra, Iraq
Dawood 79'
Hussein 89' (pen.)
Report Stadium: Basra International Stadium
Attendance: 1000
Referee: Salman Ahmed Falahi (Qatar)
29 March 2021 Friendly Uzbekistan  0–1  Iraq Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Report Karim 56' Stadium: Milliy Stadium
Referee: Nurzat Askat Uulu (Kyrgyzstan)
24 May 2021 Friendly Iraq  0–0  Tajikistan Basra, Iraq
Report Stadium: Al-Fayhaa Stadium
Referee: Ismaeel Habib Ali (Bahrain)
29 May 2021 Friendly Iraq  6–2    Nepal Basra, Iraq
Report
Stadium: Al-Fayhaa Stadium
Referee: Saad Al-Fadhli (Kuwait)
7 June 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Iraq  4–1  Cambodia Arad, Bahrain
17:30 UTC+3
Report
Stadium: Al Muharraq Stadium
Referee: Yaqoob Said Abdul Baqi (Oman)
11 June 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Hong Kong  0–1  Iraq Arad, Bahrain
19:30 UTC+3 Report
Stadium: Al Muharraq Stadium
Referee: Hiroyuki Kimura (Japan)
15 June 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Iran  1–0  Iraq Arad, Bahrain
19:30 UTC+3
Report Stadium: Al Muharraq Stadium
Referee: Ilgiz Tantashev (Uzbekistan)
2 September 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification South Korea  0–0  Iraq Seoul, South Korea
20:00 UTC+9 Report Stadium: Seoul World Cup Stadium
Attendance: 0 (Match behind closed doors)
Referee: Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrain)
7 September 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Iraq  0–3  Iran Doha, Qatar
21:00 UTC+3 Report Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
Attendance: 0 (Match behind closed doors)
Referee: Ma Ning (China)
7 October 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Iraq  0–0  Lebanon Doha, Qatar
17:30 UTC+3 Report Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
Referee: Turki Al-Khudhayr (Saudi Arabia)
12 October 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification United Arab Emirates  2–2  Iraq Dubai, United Arab Emirates
20:45 UTC+4
Report
Stadium: Zabeel Stadium
Referee: Ryuji Sato (Japan)
11 November 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Iraq  1–1  Syria Doha, Qatar
20:00 UTC+3
Report Stadium: Thani bin Jassim Stadium
Referee: Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrain)
16 November 2021 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Iraq  0–3  South Korea Doha, Qatar
18:00 UTC+3 Report Stadium: Thani bin Jassim Stadium
Referee: Ilgiz Tantashev (Uzbekistan)
30 November 2021 FIFA Arab Cup Iraq  1–1  Oman Al Wakrah, Qatar
16:00 UTC+3
Report Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium
Referee: Said Martínez (Honduras)
3 December 2021 FIFA Arab Cup Bahrain  0–0  Iraq Doha, Qatar
13:00 UTC+3 Report Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium
Referee: Janny Sikazwe (Zambia)
6 December 2021 FIFA Arab Cup Qatar  3–0  Iraq Al Khor, Qatar
22:00 UTC+3
Report Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium
Referee: Bakary Gassama (Gambia)

2022

21 January 2022 Friendly Iraq  v  Uganda Baghdad, Iraq
Stadium: Al-Madina Stadium
27 January 2022 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Iran  v  Iraq Tehran, Iran
Stadium: Azadi Stadium
1 February 2022 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Lebanon  v  Iraq TBD
24 March 2022 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Iraq  v  United Arab Emirates TBD
29 March 2022 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Syria  v  Iraq Amman, Jordan
Stadium: King Abdullah II Stadium

Coaching staff

Main article: List of Iraq national football team managers

As of December 2021.[55][56]

Position Name
Head coach Montenegro Željko Petrović
Assistant coach Iraq Razzaq Farhan
Iraq Ahmad Salah
Goalkeeping coach Iraq Ahmed Jassim
Fitness coach Montenegro Vladimir Krunić
Team manager Iraq Ghaith Muhanna
Technical consultant Iraq Ali Al-Naimi

Players

For all past and present players who have appeared for the national team, see List of Iraq international footballers.

Current squad

The following 21 players were named in the squad for the friendly against Uganda.
Caps and goals correct as of 6 December 2021, after the game against Qatar

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Fahad Talib (1994-10-21) 21 October 1994 (age 27) 14 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
1GK Ali Yaseen (1993-08-09) 9 August 1993 (age 28) 0 0 Iraq Al-Zawraa
1GK Hassan Ahmed 0 0 Iraq Al-Talaba

2DF Ahmed Ibrahim (1991-04-22) 22 April 1991 (age 30) 112 4 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
2DF Mustafa Nadhim (1993-09-23) 23 September 1993 (age 28) 34 3 Bahrain Al-Najma
2DF Maitham Jabbar (2000-11-10) 10 November 2000 (age 21) 17 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
2DF Sameh Saeed (1992-05-26) 26 May 1992 (age 29) 15 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
2DF Hassan Raed (2000-09-23) 23 September 2000 (age 21) 6 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
2DF Manaf Younis (2002-10-24) 24 October 2002 (age 19) 3 0 Iraq Al-Karkh
2DF Muntadher Mohammed (2001-06-05) 5 June 2001 (age 20) 2 0 Iraq Al-Zawraa

3MF Hussein Ali (1996-11-29) 29 November 1996 (age 25) 39 4 Tunisia CS Sfaxien
3MF Yaser Kasim (1991-05-10) 10 May 1991 (age 30) 21 3 Iraq Zakho
3MF Ahmad Fadhel (1992-03-02) 2 March 1992 (age 29) 9 0 Iraq Al-Zawraa
3MF Sajad Jassim (1996-07-01) 1 July 1996 (age 25) 6 1 Iraq Naft Al-Wasat
3MF Mohammed Ali Abbood (2000-10-01) 1 October 2000 (age 21) 4 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
3MF Hassan Abdul-Karim (1999-01-01) 1 January 1999 (age 23) 3 0 Iraq Al-Karkh
3MF Ahmed Farhan (2000-08-03) 3 August 2000 (age 21) 2 0 Iraq Naft Al-Basra
3MF Hussein Jabbar (1998-03-09) 9 March 1998 (age 23) 0 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya

4FW Sherko Karim (1996-05-25) 25 May 1996 (age 25) 10 1 Iraq Erbil
4FW Alaa Abbas (1997-07-27) 27 July 1997 (age 24) 21 3 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya
4FW Ali Yousif (1996-01-16) 16 January 1996 (age 26) 1 0 Iraq Al-Shorta

Recent call-ups

The following players have been called up within the last 12 months and remain eligible for selection.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Ahmed Basil (1996-08-19) 19 August 1996 (age 25) 0 0 Iraq Al-Shorta 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, December 2021
GK Mohammed Saleh (1995-06-12) 12 June 1995 (age 26) 0 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya v.  Iran, 7 September 2021
GK Jalal Hassan (1991-05-18) 18 May 1991 (age 30) 59 0 Iraq Al-Zawraa v.  Iran, 15 June 2021 WD

DF Frans Putros (1993-07-14) 14 July 1993 (age 28) 8 0 Denmark Viborg FF Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
DF Hussein Ammar (2001-06-16) 16 June 2001 (age 20) 0 0 Iraq Naft Al-Basra 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, December 2021
DF Rebin Sulaka (1992-04-12) 12 April 1992 (age 29) 28 0 Thailand Buriram United Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
DF Ali Adnan (1993-12-19) 19 December 1993 (age 28) 84 7 Denmark Vejle v.  South Korea, 16 November 2021 INJ
DF Ali Faez (1994-09-09) 9 September 1994 (age 27) 36 3 Kuwait Al-Qadsia v.  South Korea, 16 November 2021
DF Mohanad Jeahze (1997-04-10) 10 April 1997 (age 24) 2 0 Sweden Hammarby IF Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
DF Alaa Mhawi (1996-06-03) 3 June 1996 (age 25) 48 0 Iraq Al-Zawraa v.  United Arab Emirates, 12 October 2021 WD
DF Saad Natiq (1994-03-19) 19 March 1994 (age 27) 31 0 Iraq Al-Shorta v.  Iran, 7 September 2021 WD
DF Dhurgham Ismail (1994-05-24) 24 May 1994 (age 27) 60 3 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya v.  Iran, 7 September 2021 INJ
DF Mustafa Mohammed (1998-01-14) 14 January 1998 (age 24) 14 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya v.  Iran, 15 June 2021
DF Faisal Jassim (1991-10-01) 1 October 1991 (age 30) 6 0 Iraq Al-Shorta v.    Nepal, 29 May 2021
DF Mohammed Abdul-Zahra (1989-10-14) 14 October 1989 (age 32) 2 1 Iraq Al-Najaf v.    Nepal, 29 May 2021

MF Ahmed Yasin (1991-05-10) 10 May 1991 (age 30) 63 6 Sweden Örebro SK Friendly 21 January 2022 INJ
MF Amjad Attwan (1997-03-12) 12 March 1997 (age 24) 59 1 Qatar Al-Shamal Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
MF Bashar Resan (1996-12-22) 22 December 1996 (age 25) 49 3 Qatar Qatar SC Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
MF Mohammed Qasim Majid (1996-12-06) 6 December 1996 (age 25) 22 2 Iraq Al-Shorta 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, December 2021 INJ
MF Ibrahim Bayesh (2000-05-01) 1 May 2000 (age 21) 25 3 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya Friendly, 21 January 2022 PRE
MF Amir Al-Ammari (1997-07-27) 27 July 1997 (age 24) 5 1 Sweden IFK Göteborg Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
MF Zidane Iqbal (2003-04-27) 27 April 2003 (age 18) 0 0 England Manchester United Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
MF Sumar Almadjed (1996-03-13) 13 March 1996 (age 25) 0 0 Sweden Helsingborgs IF Friendly 21 January 2022 INJ
MF Jiloan Hamad (1990-11-06) 6 November 1990 (age 31) 1 0 Sweden Örebro SK v.  South Korea, 16 November 2021
MF Humam Tariq (1996-02-10) 10 February 1996 (age 25) 76 3 Libya Al-Ahly v.  United Arab Emirates, 12 October 2021
MF Safaa Hadi (1998-10-14) 14 October 1998 (age 23) 37 1 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya v.  United Arab Emirates, 12 October 2021
MF Sharif Abdul-Kadhim (1996-06-07) 7 June 1996 (age 25) 4 0 Iraq Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya v.  United Arab Emirates, 12 October 2021
MF Justin Meram (1988-12-04) 4 December 1988 (age 33) 36 4 United States Real Salt Lake v.  Iran, 7 September 2021 RET
MF Ali Husni (1994-05-23) 23 May 1994 (age 27) 27 3 Iraq Al-Shorta v.  Iran, 15 June 2021
MF Mohammed Ridha Jalil (2000-02-17) 17 February 2000 (age 21) 6 0 Iraq Al-Zawraa v.    Nepal, 29 May 2021
MF Bassam Shakir (2000-05-17) 17 May 2000 (age 21) 2 0 Iraq Al-Shorta v.    Nepal, 29 May 2021
MF Ahmed Abdul-Hussein (1997-10-22) 22 October 1997 (age 24) 2 0 Iraq Al-Najaf v.    Nepal, 29 May 2021

FW Aymen Hussein (1996-03-22) 22 March 1996 (age 25) 46 6 Qatar Umm Salal Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
FW Alaa Abdul-Zahra (1987-12-22) 22 December 1987 (age 34) 126 17 Iraq Al-Shorta v.  South Korea, 16 November 2021 INJ
FW Ali Al-Hamadi (2002-03-01) 1 March 2002 (age 19) 2 0 England Wycombe Wanderers Friendly 21 January 2022 PRE
FW Mohammed Dawood (2000-11-22) 22 November 2000 (age 21) 8 1 Iraq Al-Shorta v.  United Arab Emirates, 12 October 2021 WD
FW Mohanad Ali (2000-06-20) 20 June 2000 (age 21) 37 17 Greece Aris Thessaloniki v.  Iran, 7 September 2021 INJ
FW Mohannad Abdul-Raheem (1993-09-22) 22 September 1993 (age 28) 48 11 Iraq Naft Al-Wasat v.    Nepal, 29 May 2021

SUS Player suspended
INJ Player injured
RET Player retired from the national team
WD Player withdrew for non-injury related reasons

Records

Main article: Iraq national football team records and statistics

See also: List of Iraq international footballers

Most capped players

As of 16 November 2021.[57]
Players in bold are still active with Iraq.
Younis Mahmoud is Iraq's all-time most capped player, having played in 148 official matches.
Younis Mahmoud is Iraq's all-time most capped player, having played in 148 official matches.

Players with an equal number of caps are ranked in chronological order of reaching the milestone.

Rank Name Caps Goals First cap Latest cap
1 Younis Mahmoud 148 57 19 July 2002 29 March 2016
2 Hussein Saeed 137 78 5 September 1976 3 March 1990
3 Alaa Abdul-Zahra 126 17 8 June 2007 11 November 2021
4 Adnan Dirjal 121 8 11 December 1978 3 March 1990
Ahmed Radhi 62 21 February 1982 20 June 1997
6 Hawar Mulla Mohammed 113 20 31 August 2001 12 June 2012
Nashat Akram 17 5 October 2001 4 June 2013
Ali Rehema 2 8 June 2005 29 March 2016
9 Ahmed Ibrahim 112 4 11 November 2010 16 November 2021
10 Mahdi Karim 110 11 12 October 2001 28 February 2018

Top goalscorers

As of 16 November 2021.[57]
Hussein Saeed is Iraq's all-time leading goalscorer, having scored 78 goals in 137 official matches.
Hussein Saeed is Iraq's all-time leading goalscorer, having scored 78 goals in 137 official matches.
Rank Player Goals Caps Ratio Career
1 Hussein Saeed 78 137 0.57 1976–1990
2 Ahmed Radhi 62 121 0.51 1982–1997
3 Younis Mahmoud 57 148 0.39 2002–2016
4 Ali Kadhim 35 82 0.43 1970–1980
5 Falah Hassan 29 103 0.28 1970–1986
6 Emad Mohammed 27 103 0.26 2001–2012
7 Razzaq Farhan 25 62 0.4 1998–2007
8 Laith Hussein 21 80 0.26 1986–2002
9 Hawar Mulla Mohammed 20 113 0.18 2001–2012
10 Husham Mohammed 19 43 0.44 1998–2004

Competitive record

For the all-time record of the national team against opposing nations, see Iraq national football team records and statistics.

Overview
Event 1st place 2nd place 3rd place 4th place
FIFA World Cup 0 0 0 0
FIFA Confederations Cup 0 0 0 0
AFC Asian Cup 1 0 0 2
Total 1 0 0 2

FIFA World Cup

Main article: Iraq at the FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup finals record FIFA World Cup qualification record
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
1930 to 1970 Did not enter Did not enter
1974 Did not qualify 6 3 2 1 11 6
1978 Withdrew Withdrew
1982 Did not qualify 4 3 0 1 5 2
1986 Group stage 23rd 3 0 0 3 1 4 Squad 10 7 1 2 25 11
1990 Did not qualify 6 3 2 1 11 5
1994 13 7 4 2 37 13
1998 4 2 0 2 14 8
2002 14 6 3 5 37 15
2006 6 3 2 1 17 7
2010 8 3 2 3 11 6
2014 16 7 3 6 20 12
2018 16 6 5 5 24 18
2022 To be determined 14 5 6 3 17 13
2026 To be determined
Total Best: Group stage 1/21 3 0 0 3 1 4 117 55 30 32 229 116

AFC Asian Cup

Main article: Iraq at the AFC Asian Cup

AFC Asian Cup finals record AFC Asian Cup qualification record
Year Round Position GP W D* L GF GA Squad GP W D L GF GA
1956 to 1968 Not an AFC member Not an AFC member
1972 Group stage 6th 3 0 2 1 1 4 Squad 6 5 1 0 13 2
1976 Fourth place 4th 4 1 0 3 3 6 Squad 6 5 1 0 14 3
1980 to 1988 Withdrew Withdrew
1992 Did not enter Did not enter
1996 Quarter-finals 6th 4 2 0 2 6 4 Squad 2 2 0 0 4 0
2000 Quarter-finals 7th 4 1 1 2 5 7 Squad 3 3 0 0 9 2
2004 Quarter-finals 8th 4 2 0 2 5 7 Squad 6 4 1 1 16 4
2007 Champions 1st 6 3 3 0 7 2 Squad 6 3 2 1 12 8
2011 Quarter-finals 8th 4 2 0 2 3 3 Squad Qualified as defending champions
2015 Fourth place 4th 6 2 1 3 8 9 Squad 6 3 0 3 7 6
2019 Round of 16 11th 4 2 1 1 6 3 Squad 6 3 3 0 13 6
2023 Qualified 8 5 2 1 14 4
Total 1 title 9/17 39 15 8 16 44 45 49 33 10 6 102 36
  Champions    Runners-up    Third place    Fourth place
*Draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

FIFA Confederations Cup

FIFA Confederations Cup record
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad
1992 to 1995 Did not enter
1997 to 2005 Did not qualify
2009 Group stage 7th 3 0 2 1 0 1 Squad
2013 to 2017 Did not qualify
Total Best: Group stage 1/10 3 0 2 1 0 1

Summer Olympics

Main article: Football at the Summer Olympics

Summer Olympics record Qualification record
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
1900 to 1956 Did not enter Did not enter
1960 Did not qualify 4 2 0 2 14 10
1964 2 0 1 1 0 4
1968 4 1 1 2 7 5
1972 5 3 0 2 4 5
1976 4 2 0 2 6 4
1980 Quarter-finals 8th 4 1 2 1 4 5 Squad 5 3 1 1 10 3
1984 Group stage 14th 3 0 1 2 3 6 Squad 8 4 3 1 10 7
1988 Group stage 10th 3 1 1 1 5 4 Squad 8 6 1 1 14 6
1992–present See Iraq national under-23 football team See Iraq national under-23 football team
Total Best: Quarter-finals 3/19 10 2 4 4 12 15 40 21 7 12 65 44

Asian Games

Main article: Football at the Asian Games

Asian Games record
Year Round Position Pld W D* L GF GA Squad
1951 to 1970 Did not enter
1974 Round 2 5th 6 3 2 1 6 2 Squad
1978 Fourth place 4th 7 4 1 2 11 4 Squad
1982 Gold medalists 1st 6 5 0 1 11 2 Squad
1986 Quarter-finals 6th 5 3 1 1 13 5 Squad
1990 to 1998 Banned due to Gulf War
2002–present See Iraq national under-23 football team
Total 1 title 4/13 24 15 4 5 41 13

Regional competitions

Minor tournaments

All-time record

Main article: Iraq national football team records and statistics

Head-to-head record

The following table shows Iraq's all-time international record, correct as of 3 December 2021 (vs.  Bahrain).

FIFA Rankings

A line chart depicting the history of Iraq's year-end placements in the FIFA World Rankings.

Last update was on 18 February 2021
Source:[58]

  Best Ranking    Worst Ranking    Best Mover    Worst Mover  

Iraq's FIFA world rankings
Rank Year Games
Played
Best Worst
Rank Move Rank Move
69 2020 2 69 Increase 1 70 Decrease 0
70 2019 22 70 Increase 8 80 Decrease 2
88 2018 12 82 Increase 2 91 Decrease 5
79 2017 14 79 Increase 17 122 Decrease 3
119 2016 12 87 Increase 15 128 Decrease 15
89 2015 16 82 Increase 20 114 Decrease 11
103 2014 11 81 Increase 15 115 Decrease 23
110 2013 19 89 Increase 3 110 Decrease 6
92 2012 20 70 Increase 6 97 Decrease 17
78 2011 20 78 Increase 16 109 Decrease 13
100 2010 15 80 Increase 13 107 Decrease 24
88 2009 13 77 Increase 9 100 Decrease 17
72 2008 12 58 Increase 15 77 Decrease 18
68 2007 20 64 Increase 16 84 Decrease 5
83 2006 14 52 Increase 5 92 Decrease 36
54 2005 10 44 Increase 20 74 Decrease 11
44 2004 21 39 Increase 3 45 Decrease 6
43 2003 12 43 Increase 23 75 Decrease 13
53 2002 10 50 Increase 9 72 Decrease 3
72 2001 18 69 Increase 16 85 Decrease 4
79 2000 11 78 Increase 9 89 Decrease 8
78 1999 13 78 Increase 16 108 Decrease 5
94 1998 1 70 Increase 7 101 Decrease 13
68 1997 9 68 Increase 13 98 Decrease 2
98 1996 7 98 Increase 31 139 Decrease 15
110 1995 3 76 Increase 26 110 Decrease 28
88 1994 0 61 Increase 4 88 Decrease 8
65 1993 15 57 Increase 25 66 Decrease 5

Honours

Iraq's starting line-up against Saudi Arabia in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup Final, a match they won 1–0.

Titles

Continental competitions

Regional competitions

Awards

See also

References

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