Omar Al Raisi is the team liaison officer for Iraq during the U17 World Cup. He will be reporting on their activities and impressions during the tournament.
The whole of the Iraq delegation seemed tired by Wednesday. But rest is not an option when you are in a Fifa World Cup competition.
After an inspection, Fifa informed the team manager that they would not approve the team’s goalkeeper kits and said they had to be replaced immediately.
“We have to do some shopping urgently,” said Ali Hadi, the team manager.
Local organisers arranged three trips with Hadi to a sports store in Al Ain, in the time between the team’s training and gym sessions, to sort out the goalkeeper kits. Fifa is very strict when it comes to kits, so we had to get three different-colour kits, with names and number printed on the back, and the official badges on the sleeves. We finished around midnight at the store.
On Thursday, four randomly chosen players went to Tawam Hospital for the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. The results were all good; the tests showed the players to be 17 or younger.
Muwafaq Hussein Zaidan, Iraq’s coach, explained the team’s training times.
“We prefer to train at the same time when our game is, so we get used to the weather at that particular time,” he said. “We play Sweden at 8pm, Mexico and Nigeria at 5pm. So we will train at 5pm for the next two games.”
Yesterday, the delegation attended the match coordinator meeting.
The delegates of Iraq and Sweden had to be present at the meeting. Each of the Fifa officials explained their roles and what the teams should expect, including drug testing; two players from each team will be tested in the doping room immediately after the match.
Both teams’ national anthems were played and confirmed. Kits were checked, and our delegates were a bit worried, but Fifa gave the OK.
The match-day countdown was explained carefully by the Fifa general coordinator. Training was set for 5.45pm at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium at 5.45pm, and a pre-match press conference at 6.45pm.
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