Iraq won the Asian for the first time Sunday, a beacon of hope for a nation divided by war.
Iraq's 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on a 71st-minute header by captain Younis Mahmoud was an inspirational triumph for a team whose players straddle bitter and violent ethnic divides. After the game, Mahmoud called for the United States to withdraw its troops from his nation.
"I want America to go out," he said. "Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out. I wish the American people didn't invade Iraq and, hopefully, it will be over soon."
Mahmoud also said he will not return to Iraq to celebrate.
"I don't want the Iraqi people to be angry with me," he said. "If I go back with the team, anybody could kill me or try to hurt me." Read more...
As expected, this part of the story isn't getting much coverage from the media. For the Iraqi citizens who were lucky enough to have electricity to watch or listen to the game, these men are national heroes. Is there any doubt Mahmoud speaks for the majority of Iraqis? Shall we take bets on how long it will take for the right to attack this man?
UPDATE: (Nicole) Our friend Scarce sent us this video, with two very different versions of the Iraqi celebration; the first from CNN, the second from Reuters.