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Football

Iran’s new generation out to write a new chapter

IRAN

Current generation of Iraqi cubs looking to go one better than the heroes of 2004 and claim an elusive podium spot.

Forget about football, Iraq have only ever won a single medal at the Summer Olympics, period. 

That came way back at Rome 1960 when the late Abdul Wahid Aziz claimed a weightlifting bronze. The iconic Iraqi lifter was only denied silver by account of being 400 grams heavier than his Singaporean opponent who had hauled the exact same weight. Since then, Games have come and gone and the nation has continued to cling to the fading memories of that singular medal. 

The closest that drought came to ending was at Athens 2004 when the football side stunned Portugal in their opener on a march to the semi-finals. Featuring the core of a golden generation of talent that would lift the AFC Asian Cup three years later, Iraq fell 1-0 to a mighty Italian side, graced by the likes of Pirlo, Chiellini, De Rossi and Gilardino, in the third-place play-off in Thessaloniki.

Twenty years on from that unforgettable Greek summer, Iraq are set to enter their sixth Men’s Olympic Football Tournament and will do so confident of again causing a real global stir. 

Led by tournament top-scorer, Ali Jasim, the young Lions edged past Indonesia in the third-place play-off at this year’s AFC U-23 Asian Cup to secure their Parisian passport. With a mix of some dynamic young talent and strong overage options from a senior team that’s won four from four so far in FIFA World Cup™ qualification, Iraq are aiming to end their nation’s 64-year medal wait. 

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