Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 4 April 2020

One goal at a time: When Iraq beat New Zealand in the 1974 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers

The Arab nation would wait another 13 years until their qualified, however

Fans mob an Iraqi player at the Sydney Sports Ground during the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers on March 13, 1973. Getty
Fans mob an Iraqi player at the Sydney Sports Ground during the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers on March 13, 1973. Getty

The Iraq national football team had some extremely successful moments during the 1974 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers on the Sydney Sports Ground back in 1973. On March 13 that year, they beat New Zealand 2-0, followed by another spectacular win against the Kiwis on March 24, when they triumphed 4-0.

In this photo, enthusiastic fans mob one of the players during half-time of that first match.

Despite these triumphs, and another against Indonesia that month, the team did not ultimately qualify for the tournament that year. They’d have to wait another 13 years before that happened. While Iraq’s team is known regionally as a powerhouse, the first and only time they made an appearance at the World Cup was in 1986.

In fact, it’s only one of a handful of Middle Eastern and North African nations that have made it into the group stages of the prestigious global competition. Egypt came first, back in 1934(they made it before England did). Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Morocco and Tunisia have also succeeded. In 2006, the tiny Gulf island of Bahrain famously came within inches of qualifying, but sadly fell at the last hurdle, needing one more goal to pip Trinidad and Tobago to the post.

The region has it all to play for come 2022.

Updated: March 12, 2020 05:10 PM

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