The Estadio Maracana’s auditorium was host to the Olympics men’s football today, which involved our own beloved Iraq. The tournament sees 16 teams go head-to-head for the much sought medals awarded to the competition top three finalists. Teams were separated into four separate pots, from which a single team was selected to form the final groups at Rio 2018.
After the Lions of Mesopotamiat were placed amongst the likes of Australia, Japan, and UAE in the Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, the Olympics side was awarded the with an equally challenging group that saw them pegged against hosts Brazil, South Africa and Denmark. Abdul Ghani Shahad will have his work cut out for him as his side goes head-to-head with Neymar and co.
Undoubtably, it will be a very gruelling experience for minnows Iraq to achieve anything close to what the Iraqi Olympic men’s football team managed in Athens 2004. Nashat, Younis and Emad Mohammed were amongst the under 23 side who defied all odds and achieved an incredible fourth-place finish. Athens 2004 saw Iraq beat Portugal by four goals to two in a memorable encounter in which a young Cristiano Ronaldo famously broke down into tears.
Another win, this time against Costa Rica, was enough to push Iraq through into the next round of the tournament despite a loss to Morocco in the final game of the group stages.
The quarter-finals saw Iraq competing with Australia, where an overhead goal from Emad Mohammed secured a semi-final place. However, a three-one loss to Paraguay ended Iraqi dreams of winning the tournament. The bronze medal match saw Italy narrowly beat Iraq with a one-nil win, meaning Iraq finished the competition in an incredibly impressive fourth position.
Rio 2016 will commence on the 3rd of August. To read about the Olympic team’s incredible journey to Rio 2016, visit our sister website here. As always, IraqFootball.me will be the first to bring you the tournament fixture list once they’re released. Don’t forget to subscribe and comment below!