Thursday, May 13, 2004


More insurgents? Nope...celebrations.
Iraq's soccer team, whose players were brutalized and whose stadium was used as a torture chamber under the regime of Saddam Hussein, qualified for the Olympics with a victory over Saudi Arabia.

The 3-1 victory, coupled with a 0-0 draw between Kuwait and Oman, gave Iraq a spot at the Athens Games this August. It's the nation's first Olympic berth in the world's most popular sport.

"Simply stated, this is the biggest moment in Iraqi Olympic history," said Ahmed Al-Samarrai, the president of Iraq's Olympic committee.

Gunfire echoed through Baghdad streets and flares and tracer rounds lit the sky as Iraqis celebrated the victory, Agence France Presse reported.

"Our entire country deserves this incredible win," said Hawar Mulla Mohammed, who scored the winning goal. "When the bus pulled into the stadium (in Amman) tonight, we refused to think of anything but winning, and now we are headed to Athens."

Iraq defender Ahmed Alwan added: "It's a crazy joy for us. Despite all of the difficulties we faced, we still managed to qualify for Athens."

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