ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s national football team suffered a 1-0 loss to Bahrain in the 2019 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship Final on Wednesday.
Both teams came into the final undefeated—Bahrain had not conceded a single goal.
The first half was end-to-end with both teams coming close to scoring. Iraq dominated possession and was boosted by the cheers of the home crowd at the Karbala International Stadium.
However, it was Bahrain who struck first in the 38th minute to silence the Iraqi supporters and take a 1-0 half-time lead.
Despite their efforts, Iraq was unable to find a way back in the game and suffered a heartbreaking loss on home soil.
The Iraqi football team’s last major honor at international level came during the 2007 Asian Cup where they were crowned champions.
The 2019 WAFF was the first major tournament held in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region since the Gulf War in 1991.
The tournament included nine nations and began on July 30. It was divided into two groups: Group A and Group B.
Group A of the tournament (Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Lebanon) played their matches at Karbala International Stadium while Group B (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan) played at the Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil.
The first match in Karbala was marred by controversy after local religious conservatives condemned the opening ceremony of the game for including a female instrumentalist playing the Iraqi national anthem on a violin while three other performers – two of them female – danced.
Critics claimed the performance was indecent and stained the sanctity of the city, considered holy to Shia Muslims.