Mohammed Dawood: The Man That Could Take Iraq Back To the World Cup by Max Newman
Iraq is a nation with an incredibly tumultuous history. It is inarguable that there are not many other nations from our world that have gone through the chaos and despair that Iraq has, especially in recent times. The entire nation has been rocked by these events, which have affected all aspects of society. Football has not escaped this wrath.
Iraq have struggled mightily on both the domestic and international stages. The national team has not qualified for a World Cup since a rogue appearance in 1986, and success in the Asian Cup has also been limited (a miraculous win in 2007 aside). The league lacks funding, and teams from it seldom reach the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League.
Yet in the rough, there is a diamond.
Mohammed Dawood first came to prominence in the 2017 u-17 World Cup in India. A quick, physical forward, he scored 3 goals in the group stages as Iraq surprisingly qualified for the next round, before being eliminated by eventual semifinalists Mali. Dawood was electric; though his decision-making skills left room for improvement, his natural dribbling ability and physicality caught the eye; many were talking of a move to Europe after the tournament.
Although this move never happened, Dawood continued to grow rapidly as a player. As a striker for Al Naft in the Iraqi top flight, he scored 37 goals in 76 games between 2017 and 2019, astonishing for a player who was still in his teenage years. The latest season of Iraqi football was canceled due to a combination of teams withdrawing from the league and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in the 8 games played, Dawood still managed 5 goals. He has not scored in 4 international caps, but has impressed in each game; Dawood is truly a player to watch.
Naturally a striker, Dawood’s excellent dribbling ability and trickery allows him to fill in on either wing when needed. Even as a striker. Dawood tends to drop back or move to the wings in order to facilitate attacks or support midfield players. His movement in this sense, along with his powerful shot and lethal pace on the counter, is very similar to Wolves forward Raul Jimenez. Though he does not have the height of the Mexican star, Dawood makes up for this with a massive vertical leap and fantastic physicality. On top of all this, Dawood is also something of a set-piece specialist and scores frequently off of direct free kicks.
For a nation going through a dark age, Dawood may well be a shining light.