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One goal short

Post by News Tribune Staff on Dec. 15, 2006 at 2:53 pm |
December 15, 2006 2:53 pm

Plucky Iraq managed to reach the Asian Games soccer final, despite the kidnapping and murder this past week of a leading club chairman.

This could have been great news for the local GIs working the streets of Baghdad – Iraqis are football crazy, and winning might have induced everybody to chill out for a little while, at least.

Alas, Iraq fell in Friday’s final, 1-0 to hosts Qatar.

Still, it was enough to prompt a congratulatory press release from leading U.S. officials in Iraq, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey:

“On behalf of the United States Embassy in Baghdad and Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), we congratulate the Iraqi people on their national soccer team’s outstanding performance in the Asian Games. Their Silver Medal demonstrates the capabilities of the Iraqi people when they unite across sectarian lines for a common purpose. We know these talented athletes are an inspiration to all Iraqis. We share their joy and excitement in celebrating this achievement.”

Another ‘if only:’ Iraq got to the final by beating powerhouse South Korea. In the other semifinal, Qatar beat … Iran.

Iraq v Iran. What a final that would have been.

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