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Iraq 'in chaos' ahead of qualifiers
The Asian Cup champions are in disarray as the 2010 World Cup qualifiers approach.
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2007 12:44 GMT

Goalkeeper Noor Sabri says 'nothing is working out' for Iraq ahead of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers [EPA]

The Iraq national football team is "in chaos" as they prepare for 2010 World Cup qualifying, just four months after uniting their war-ravaged country by winning the Asian Cup.
 
Iraq, with a team made up of Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish players, became first-time Asian Cup champions after a stirring 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in the final in July.
The unlikely triumph sparked joy and celebrations in Iraq, uniting its bitterly divided communities in a rare moment of jubilation.
 
However Noor Sabri, Iraq's influential goalkeeper, is worried about his country's preparations for Asia's third round of 2010 qualifying which starts in February.
"Frankly, nothing is working out at this stage of World Cup qualifying," Noor was quoted as saying by UAE daily Al-Khaleej.
 
"There is chaos within the technical staff and squad, and the preparation schedule is just not clear."
 
Noor, who plays his club football in Iran, has warned that Iraq should not rest on its Asian Cup success.
 

"There is chaos within the technical staff and squad, and the preparation schedule is just not clear."

Noor Sabri,
Iraq goalkeeper

"We need first to put the Asian triumph and the overwhelming euphoria surrounding it behind us, build on the psychological boost that is still living in our souls and stage warm-up matches against competitive teams from Africa and Europe," he said.
 
"This is the base of our future success, if we want to progress to the World Cup finals in three years time."
 
Since Iraq's memorable victory in Jakarta, their Brazilian coach Jorvan Viera has resigned and Norwegian Egil Olsen, 65, has been appointed as manager.
 
Olsen coached Norway from 1990 to 1998, helping them qualify for the World Cups in the United States in 1994 and France four years later.
 
Early days for new coach
 
"We have yet to see what he can provide the squad with," Noor said of the new national coach.
 
"Let's not start judging him at this stage.
 
"He is a very good coach with excellent experience under his belt, and harmony, you just cannot have it in only two months."
 
The World Cup qualifying draw will be made in Durban on Sunday and despite being Asian champions, Iraq are not among the five Asian seeds as rankings are based on performances at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
 
Australia, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Japan are seeded, and with Asia's 20 remaining teams being split into five groups of four, it means Iraq will face at least one of the top sides.
 
Teams who finish first and second in each group will qualify for the fourth round, where four teams will go through to the 2010 finals and one into a play-off against the winner of the Oceania qualifiers.
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