In FIFA World Cup qualifying matches

Basra Corniche flooded with fans for Iraq-Philippines showdown

BASRA – In Basra, anticipation reached fever pitch as fans gathered along the picturesque Shatt al-Arab river for group stage FIFA World Cup qualifying match against the Philippines.

Families, both young and old, men and women alike, sauntered along the riverfront, locally known as the Corniche, savoring the refreshing spring evening breeze.

The football spectacle was slated to kick off tonight at 10 p.m. local time under the enchanting Ramadan night sky at the Palm Trunk Stadium, drawing hundreds of supporters to the riverside.

Hassan Emad, a fan hailing from Baghdad, shared his enthusiasm with 964 media, saying, “We traveled from Baghdad to Basra to rally behind our team, and God willing, victory shall be Iraq’s.”

Lightening the mood, he playfully advised star player Ayman Hussein ‘Abu Tabar,’ “Avoid diving in the penalty area just for a spot-kick, and exhibit your prowess on the field.”

Nestled at the confluence of the Shatt al-Arab river and the Gulf, Basra stands as Iraq’s eminent waterfront city.

Hassan Haitham, echoing sentiments of admiration, remarked, ” “This city is beautiful, and its people are even more so. The city’s progress is astounding; its distinct generous tribal character sets it apart.”

Expressing confidence in the home team, Haitham boldly predicted a 3-1 victory over their adversaries.

Iraq competes in Group F of the Asian qualifying matches, alongside the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Their upcoming fixture is scheduled against Indonesia in early June.

Despite arriving tardily, Hassan Rafeed marveled at the overwhelming turnout, remarking, “I arrived to find the Corniche teeming with supporters. The Iraqi fanbase is large, and Basra is beautiful, especially around the Shatt al-Arab. It’s reminiscent of the international vibes we experienced during the Gulf Cup 25.”

Iraq’s national football team, affectionately known as the Lions of Mesopotamia, had clinched victory at the Gulf Cup 25 in early 2023, fueling hopes of further success on the global stage.