Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Iraq captain Younis Mohmoud holding up the winning trophy as he and his teammates celebrated victory in the Asia Cup final in Jakarta. (Saeed Khan/Agence France-Presse)

Soccer: From shattered Iraq, a united team triumphs, 1-0

"The solitary goal, 71 minutes into the game, was sparked by a corner kick by Hawar Mulla Mohammed, and headed into the net at the far post by Younis Mahmoud Khalaf.

The majority of those who poured into the streets of Baghdad, Basra, and many other Iraqi towns and cities will not have cared in their euphoria that the maker and the scorer of that goal both happen to be from the minority Kurdish community in the north.

Hawar Mohammed, 25, was born in Mosul and plays his professional soccer for Apollon Limassol in Cyprus. He has been an Iraqi international player since his teens, and was chastised by Kurdish nationalists a few days ago for wrapping himself in the green, red, white flag of Iraq.

Younis Mahmoud, 24, is from Kirkuk. Gunmen opened fire on shoppers in a Shiite Turkomen village southwest of his home city earlier Sunday, killing seven and wounding six according to the police.

Yet this son of Kurdish stock, already the captain of Iraq's national squad, is - if anyone of Iraqi origin is - on his way to stardom."

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