The Olympic football squads of Iraq and Syria brought a semblance of normality to Karbala last night, playing another friendly to celebrate FIFA’s lifting of a ban on international matches in Iraq.
3 days ago the teams met in Basra, and last night Syria looked to avenge a 2-0 defeat at the new 30,000-seater Karbala International Stadium.
The friendlies serve as a chance for the two managers to cast eyes over their players in anticipation of the under 23 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. Iraq manager Karim Farhan seems to know who he will be taking to Saudi Arabia for the 3 match tournament. “Everyone want to prove themselves and keep their place in the team,” he told reporters before the game.
Over six days Iraq will play Afghanistan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in Riyadh’s Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. The winner of the group, and five best placed runners up of the ten groups in total, will go through to the final tournament proper.
Syria started stronger, and took the lead in the 29th minute through Mu-Amman Najy’s strike. Iraq equalised before half time, and the game ended 1-1.