Smiles, tears following victory; Captain calls for U.S. to withdraw; 'I want America to go out. Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out'
Above: Iraq's captain Younis Mahmoud battles for the ball, and Left: Holds the Asian Cup trophy aloft following victory in today's game.
Iraq won the Asian Cup for the first time Sunday, a beacon of hope for a nation divided by war.
Iraq's 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on a 71st-minute header by captain Younis Mahmoud was an inspirational triumph for a team whose players straddle bitter and violent ethnic divides. After the game, Mahmoud called for the United States to withdraw its troops from his nation.
"I want America to go out," he said. "Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out. I wish the American people didn't invade Iraq and, hopefully, it will be over soon."
Iraq, whose only World Cup appearance was in 1986, dominated the Saudis, three-time Asian Cup champions. Iraq joins the United States, Brazil, Italy and host South Africa at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup along with the champions of Europe, Africa and Oceania.
Elation was juxtaposed against the tragedy in the players' homeland. Coach Jorvan Vieira and Mahmoud wore black armbands during the postgame news conference to commemorate the dozens of fans killed back home during celebrations following Wednesday's semifinal victory over South Korea.
"It's very clear, from our arms, our respect to the people who died when we put Korea out of the competition," Vieira said. "This victory we offer to the families of those people."
Vieira, who is Brazilian, resigned after the game.
"I have worked my best to give happiness to the Iraqi people, to bring a warm smile to their lips and my mission is accomplished," Vieira said. "The satisfaction is doubled when you can get this cup and you bring happiness for a country, not just a team. It's more important than anything."
Read the rest at AOL News
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