Ongoing uncertainty regarding Basim Qasim’s future has resulted in the Iraqi FA contacting various foreign managers in search of a replacement for the Asian Cup 2019. The national team has an atrocious record with manager selection, where Hakim Shakir, Akram Salman, Yahya Alwan, Radhi Shenaishil and Basim Qasim have all taken charge since the last Asian cup in 2015. There are claims that the FA have looked to employ a foreign coach during this time, but have been unable to acquire the financial backing needed to hire them. However, it is believed that they are keen on securing a foreign manager once and for all, but only if Basim Qasim steps aside. The current Iraqi manager was certain he would walk away from the position after the Gulf Cup had concluded but there remains ongoing uncertainty with regards to his position.
The man the Iraqi FA have contacted to replace Basim Qasim is the highly coveted Australian Graham Arnold, who is currently in charge at Sydney FC. The 54 year old is currently weighing his options on the international scene, with both Australia and New Zealand keen on hiring the experienced coach. However, Graham is eager to join Iraq and is awaiting a firm offer from the Iraqi FA before considering other offers.
Graham has worked extensively with the Australian national team, first as assistant to Guus Hiddink during their World Cup campaign in 2006, where they marginally lost to Italy in the last 16 round. After the tournament, he took over as full time coach before eventually settling as U23 Australian manager.
Amongst his experiences as an international manager, he has also worked with clubs in Australia and Japan’s first divisions. Graham has claimed that a host of other foreign clubs have also contacted him with regards to managerial positions, but that would mean terminating his current contract with Sydney FC. Accepting the Iraqi managerial position would allow for him to continue at the club whilst also continuing his role in the A-League.
Under his tenure at Sydney FC, Graham managed Ali Abbas before the player accepted a risky transfer to the Korean league, before eventually returning to Australia as a Wellington Phoenix FC player.
There remains little indication as to whether the Iraqi FA’s approach is serious or whether this is simply a front to show fans that they are actively looking for a foreign coach before eventually settling for a local Iraqi manager. This has been the case over recent seasons, where the FA will tell fans about their interest in various foreign coaches. However, their approaches are often wishful or unprofessional, eventually leading to the search falling flat on its face. There was recently the case of Dzemal Hadziabdic, who was supposedly hired as Iraqi manager but quit after only one day. The Iraqi FA only made the Bosnian aware of his duty to live in Iraq on his first day, despite previously agreeing to different terms.
It wasn’t the first time the Iraqi FA was involved in such a scandal. Former Iraqi manager and Brazilian legend Zico was also involved in an apparent tug-of-war with the FA over unmade payments to his contract deal. The superstar lasted just over a year as manager but eventually resigned after the FA refused to pay Zico his salary on time on numerous occasions.
Let us see what happens with Graham Arnold. As with everything, IraqFootball.me will be the first to bring you updates on the situation.