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After leading his country to glory at the 2007 Asian Cup, Iraqi captain Younis Mahmoud, left, will try to do it again at the Confederations Cup. ((AHMAD ZAMRONI/AFP/Getty Images))

SCHEDULE AND RESULTS

FIRST ROUND           
MATCH  DATE - TIME  TEAMS EXTRAS
June 14 - 10:00 AM ET  <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/iraq.jpg" alt="Iraq"/>[/CUSTOM] IRAQ vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/sth-africa.jpg" alt= "South Africa"/>[/CUSTOM] SOUTH AFRICA Game Report | Full Game Video | Video Highlights | Game Tracker
Venue: Johannesburg - Final Result: 0-0 draw
June 17 - 10 AM ET  <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/iraq.jpg" alt="Iraq"/>[/CUSTOM] IRAQ vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/spain.jpg" alt="Spain"/>[/CUSTOM] SPAIN Game Report | Full Game Video  | Video Highlights  | Game Tracker    
Venue: Mangaung/Bloemfontein - Final result: Spains wins 1-0        
June 20 - 2:30 PM ET  <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/iraq.jpg" alt="Iraq"/>[/CUSTOM] IRAQ vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/new-zealand.jpg" alt="New Zealand"/>[/CUSTOM] NEW ZEALAND Game Report | Full Game Video  | Video Highlights  | Game Tracker      
Venue: Johannesburg - Final result: 0-0 draw     

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Noor Sabri (Al-Talaba), Mohammed Gassid (Al-Zawraa), Uday Taleb (Dohuk)

Defenders: Mohammed Ali Karim (Al-Jazira, United Arab Emirates), Bassim Abbas (Al-Talaba), Fareed Majeed (Al-Talaba), Salam Shakir (Al-Khor, Qatar), Ali Rehema (Al-Wakra, Qatar), Dara Mohammed (Sulaymaniyah), Essam Yassin (Al-Amana), Muayad Khalid (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Midfielders: Nashat Akram (Al-Gharafa, Qatar), Salih Sadir (Al-Ahed, Lebanon), Abdul-Wahab Abu Al-Hail (Sepahan, Iran), Hawar Mulla Mohammed (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus), Karrar Jassim (Al-Wakra), Mahdi Karim (Al-Khor, Qatar), Samer Saeed (Al-Ahly Tripoli, Libya), Halgurd Mulla Mohammed (Sulaymaniyah)

Forwards: Emad Mohammed (Sepahan, Iran), Luay Salah (Arbil), Younis Mahmoud (Al-Gharafa, Qatar), Alaa Abdul-Zahra (Al-Khor, Qatar)

Coach: Bora Milutinovic

SCOUTING REPORT

Probable starting formation: (GK) Sabri — (D) Abbas, Shakir, Akram, Sadir — (M) Mohammed, Karim, Mulla Mohammed, Hussein — (F) Mohammed, Mahmoud

Strengths

  • Coaching: In Bora Milutinovic, Iraq boasts a wily coach with a wealth of international experience. The Serb has coached five different national teams at the World Cup — Mexico, Costa Rica, the U.S., Nigeria, and China — leading four of them past the first round and is renowned for getting the most out of his players.
  • Attack: Captain Younis Mahmoud and Emad Mohammed provide Iraq with a lethal 1-2 scoring punch up front. The two forwards have real chemistry and together they can put any defence under real pressure. Playmaking midfielder Nashat Akram can also chip in with the odd goal.
  • Familiarity: The core of the Iraqi team that stunned the field to win the 2007 Asian Cup remains intact for the Confederations Cup. In fact, most of the players have been together since the 2000 Asian Youth Championship when Iraq won gold.

Weaknesses

  • Shnishel controversy: The Iraqi camp is still reeling from the recent resignation of assistant coach Radhi Shnishel, who acted as caretaker boss before Milutinovic was hired earlier this year. Shnishel has publicly slammed Milutinovic's training methods and the former Iraqi captain has called for the Serb to be fired, leading to a great deal of tension and creating a big distraction for the team.
  • Inconsistency: Iraq is frustratingly inconsistent. The team failed to build on the 2007 Asian Cup success, failing to progress to Asia's final round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
  • Tough Group: The Iraqis will have their work cut out for them in Group A. They start off with two tough games, playing hosts South Africa in the opener and take on European champions Spain a few days later. By the time they play their last game against New Zealand, the Iraqis could very likely be eliminated.

Players to watch

  • Nashat Akram: A rising star in Iraqi soccer, the promising young midfielder recently signed a three-year contract with Dutch club Twente. Akram is a talented playmaker and serves as the linchpin of the Iraqi attack.
  • Younis Mahmoud: A national hero after scoring the winning goal in the 2007 Asian Cup final, the Iraqi captain is a dangerous forward who provides the national team with plenty of goals and inspiration through his hard word on the field.
  • Emad Mohammed: A star striker with Iranian club Sepahan Isfahan, Mohammed is a goal-scoring machine, capable of influencing a game at a moment's notice with his speed and skill with the ball.

Key injuries/squad omissions: An undisclosed injury has ruled out winger Samer Saeed. Three players — midfielders Nashat Akram and Qusai Munir, and defender Farid Majeed — are all carrying minor injuries but should be able to play in South Africa.

ROAD TO FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP

2009 Confederations Cup qualification route: Iraq booked its spot in South Africa by winning the 2007 Asian Cup in Indonesia.

TEAM HISTORY

  • FIFA member since: 1950
  • Current FIFA ranking: #77
  • Team nickname: Lions of Mesopotamia
  • All-time caps leaders: Hussein Saeed (126)
  • All-time leading scorer: Hussein Saeed (63 goals)
  • Number of Previous Confederations Cup Appearances: 0

Achievements

  • Asian Champions: 2007
  • Asian Games Champions: 1982

Legends from the past

Hussein Saeed: The current president of the Iraqi Football Association, Saeed was a member of the Iraqi team that was dubbed "the golden generation" after qualifying for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Ahmad Radhi: Voted Asian player of the year in 1988, Radhi is the only Iraqi player to have scored a goal at the World Cup, having found the back of the net in a 2-1 loss to Belgium in 1986.