Socceroos To Host Iraq In March
The Socceroos will play host to the Iraq national team after today signing to play an international in Australia on 26 March 2005.
The Socceroos will play host to the Iraq national team after today signing to play an international in Australia on 26 March 2005. Australian Soccer Association Chairman Mr Frank Lowy (pictured right), CEO Mr John O'Neill, Asian Football Confederation President Mr Mohamed bin Hammam and President of the Iraq Football Association Mr Hussain Saeed Mohamed announced the fixture today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "It is very exciting for the ASA to have our national team returning home for a match in Australia against a tough opponent like Iraq," said Mr Lowy. "Iraq showed by making the semi finals at the Olympic Games and the quarter finals of the Asian Cup that they are a quality football nation and will be an important test for us as we continue on the road to Germany. They are ranked 45th in the world, four places ahead of us." "We played Iraq back in 1973 as part of world cup qualifying and we ended up making the finals for the first and only time so perhaps this is a good omen ahead of our world cup qualifiers later in the year." "We need to engage more frequently with the countries in our region and this is another important step in our courtship with Asia." President of the Iraq Football Association Mr Hussain Saeed Mohamed said his country was looking forward to taking on Australia. "We are delighted our friends at the Australian Soccer Association have extended this invitation to us," said Mr Mohamed. "We were very grateful of the hospitality and help we received from everyone in Australia when he held a training camp in Perth before the Asian Cup." "The time we spent in Western Australia definitely played a big part in our success at the Asian Cup and at the Olympics." "Having spoken to our players about this, I know they are already very excited at the prospect of playing in front of a large Australian crowd and against players who are true stars of the game." AFC President Mr Mohamed bin Hammam said that the fixture is "another important step in strengthening the already close ties between the Asian Football Confederation and our friends in Oceania." "For Iraq's players, the game gives them the chance to do battle with truly world-class footballers. By playing quality top-flight opponents like Australia and being exposed to different styles of play, Asian football will definitely continue its upward curve." "I welcome the announcement and look forward to continued close ties in the future between the AFC and our members and the Australian Soccer Association." The ASA revealed that along with picking up the costs of flying the Iraqis to Australia a generous appearance fee would also be paid which would go to the development of football in Iraq. "We are delighted that we will be able to assist the Iraqi Football Association with the resurgence of football in their country," said Mr O'Neill. "A venue for the match is yet to be finalised but discussions are continuing with state governments over the venues for all four of our home matches in 2005." Mr Lowy and Mr O'Neill will tonight attend the AFC awards dinner as a guest of Mr bin Hammam.