An Iraqi generation looking for glory! by Anderson Zavala
The Republic of Iraq, though not traditionally associated with a fervent passion for football, has witnessed a notable surge in the prominence of players of Iraqi descent in recent years. Describing these players as “gifted” captures their innate talent and the driving force they bring to the field. Despite not being in the limelight of global football, Iraq has positioned itself as one of the formidable teams, not just within the Middle East but also in the broader Asian context. 8 direct spots for the 2026 World Cup mean that Iraq is a huge contender to claim one of them.
What makes Iraqis huge contenders? Firstly, I can mention one of the motives that made me think that Iraq has what it takes, it was Mohammed Dawood Yaseen (24), a superb player who surprised everyone at the FIFA U-17 World Cup back in 2017, he scored 3 goals in the group stage, being the absolute leader of that Iraqi generation. Such amazing player was developed in Iraq, he was incredible back then, and even though he did not leave Iraq, the one thing was certain, talent is present.
Another reason is Zidane Iqbal (20), a brilliant midfielder who was part of Manchester United youth system. Now in Utrecht, he is trying to show his talent again, it is said that because of injuries he has not been able to have more than a single appearance. Nonetheless, Iqbal is a gifted footballer, and I’ know’m quite sure he will make it in the Eredivisie.
Iraq National Football Team has more talented players nowadays, many players are joining; and we know some cases of talented players of Iraqi descent who represent other countries. We have 2 big examples, on the one hand we have Noah Darvich (17), who is a marvelous player representing Germany, currently playing for Germany in the U-17 World Cup; On the other hand, we have Ameen Al-Dakhil (21), who represents Belgium at international level.
In contrast, we have some examples of players who switched to represent Iraq, like Youssef Amyn (20) who was born in Germany but decided to represent Iraq.
Iraq National Team is rising, and we have many young players in the squad and some more playing in European leagues, such as: Merchas Doski (23, Slovácko), Hussein Ali (21, Heerenveen), Youssef Amyn (20, Braunschweig), Ali Al-Hamadi (21, AFC Wimbledon), Alai Ghasem (20, Utsikten), Zidane Iqbal (20, Utrecht), André Alsanati (23, Sirius), Kevin Yakob (23, AGF), Alexander Aoraha (20, Queens Park Rangers), and Amin Al-Hamawi (19, Helsingborg). There is no doubt that talent is spread across Europe.
Having so much talent abroad means that they need the best of their players in the local league, and that is not a problem, we have the evidence of Air Force Club competing in the AFC Champions League, it is like they are telling everyone “Hey, we have talent in our league as well!”
The Lions of Mesopotamia are on a good path, great times are coming, so just keep working hard!