Sidka, left, is introduced by new IFA president Hussein Said in Irbil [AFP]

Iraq have chosen former Werder Bremen and Bahrain coach Wolfgang Sidka to lead their Asian Cup title defence in Qatar in January.

The 56-year-old German was unveiled at a press conference by Iraqi Football Association (IFA) president Hussein Saeed in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

Sidka, who was coach of German Bundesliga side Werder in the late 1990s, already has experience of coaching in Asia through stints in charge of Bahrain and two Qatari club sides.
"My mission with the Iraqi team will not be easy because I will be the manager during the Asian Cup," Sidka was quoted as saying on Monday by the Asian Football Confederation website.

"I will be sure to put together a strong side."

Power struggle

Iraq's Asian title defence had looked in jeopardy earlier this month when they were on the brink of suspension from international soccer because of a political power struggle that has paralysed the IFA.

Two attempts to elect a new president in Irbil last month failed because too few delegates made the journey to the city in Iraqi Kurdistan, where Fifa had decided the vote should take place for security reasons.

Fifa, however, last week gave the IFA one year to settle the row, which highlighted sectarian divisions in the country seven years after the US-led invasion.

Iraq have been grouped with Iran, the United Arab Emirates and North Korea for next year's Asian Cup, which takes place from January 7-29.

They were the surprise winners of the 2007 tournament under Brazilian Jorvan Vieira, who led a multi-ethnic team to victory in Jakarta despite the effects of the war in Iraq.

Source: Agencies