The first Kuwaiti sports team to play in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion celebrated their return with a victory - and enjoyed the goodwill from Iraqi fans.
|Kuwait were given warm support from the Iraq fans [AFP]
Rogerio de Assis Silva scored in the 79th minute to give Kuwait Sports Club a 1-0 victory over Irbil to win the two-leg series in the Asian Football Confederation Cup quarter-finals.
The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw in Kuwait.
The 20,000 plus fans in the sold-out stadium in Iraq's northern Kurdish region heaped cheers on the visiting team and some waved Kuwaiti flags.
"This is unbelievable - to see the fans encourage the Kuwaiti side,'' said Abdul Aziz al-Anberi, the president of the Kuwaiti club.
The Iraqi army was driven from Kuwait in 1991 by US - led forces and Kuwait restored diplomatic ties after Saddam's fall in 2003. But the country still demands war reparations from Iraq.
Authorities brought in extra security before the match, but there were no reports of violence.
Among the spectators were Massoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, and several Kuwaiti officials.
Kuwait defender Fahad Awad thanked the Iraqi fans.
"We are very grateful,'' he said.
"They were supporting both teams.''
In July, Asian football officials cleared the way for Iraq to host matches.
Next year, Irbil will host a qualifying group for the AFC under-19 championship.