Beleaguered Iraqis celebrate making home Gulf Cup football final

Beleaguered Iraqis celebrate making home Gulf Cup football final
2 min read
17 January, 2023
Iraqis nationwide took to the streets Monday to celebrate their national football team's progression into the finals of the Gulf Cup.
Iraq beat Qatar 2-1 to make the Gulf Cup finals [Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu via Getty]

Iraqis nationwide took to the streets Monday to celebrate their national football team's progression into the finals of the Gulf Cup.

The Mesopotamian Lions secured their place in Thursday's final with a 2-1 win over Qatar in Basra, the southern Iraqi city where the tournament is being held.

Players and fans alike were overcome with emotion as the team made their first Gulf Cup final in ten years.

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The last time Iraq hosted the Gulf Cup or any other major international sporting competition was 1979.

The country has since been blighted by dictatorship, war and sectarian violence, with Iraqi sporting successes often a gratefully received diversion.

Once the final whistle blew on Monday's match, fireworks lit up the skies above Baghdad's Tahrir Square, best known internationally as the epicentre of the October 2019 protest movement.

Similar scenes erupted at the end of the match at host city Basra's Corniche.

Celebrations also took place in Karbala and Nasiriyah, among other Iraqi cities.

Facing Iraq in the Gulf Cup final is Oman, who beat defending champions Bahrain 1-0 in Monday's second semi-final.