July 29, 2007
On Eve of Asian Cup Final, Iraq Is the Proud Underdog
By PETER GELLING
JAKARTA, Indonesia, July 28 — In the Asian Cup final against Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Iraq is the underdog in every way imaginable.
Saudi Arabia, which has appeared in five of the last six finals, is a three-time champion. Iraq has never been to the finals and last played in the semifinals 31 years ago.
But that is only the beginning of the uphill fight for Iraq’s young, beleaguered players.
When the Iraqi national soccer team left Malaysia for the finals here, they were delayed three hours in the Kuala Lumpur airport before collapsing into their cramped, economy-class seats.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s team strolled onto its stylish, private jet, accompanied by media representatives, interpreters, doctors and coaches, and was whisked here.
This has been the story for the Iraqis the
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