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Iraqi newspapers attach importance to Iraq-China football match
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14:29, February 07, 2008

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Iraqi newspapers on Wednesday showed huge interest in the World Cup qualifier between Iraq and China scheduled for later on the day.

In a big title on its first page, the Al-Mashriq described the match as "the lions of Rafidein (Tigris and Euphrates Rivers ) in confrontation with the Chinese dragon today."

"The game of the Iraqi soccer team and its Chinese rival is very significant since it represents the first step" towards the finality of 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, said the paper.

While the Azzaman newspaper said That Olsen, the Norwegian coach of the Iraqi team, was confident that his Iraqi players will traverse "the Great Wall of China ".

"Iraqi players are resolved to achieve a positive result in this match to reach the fourth round of the qualifications, especially that Olsen has studied hard the strength and the weakness the Chinese team," the paper said.

It said the Iraqi training crew has told its players to watch carefully some of the Chinese professional players, especially the four playing in England and Germany football clubs.

The state-run al-Sabah newspaper said, " Despite the mood of optimism which has prevailed in our sport delegation to (UAE), (caution) should be exercised during the match to guarantee an absolute victory."

The paper recounted Iraq's victory in the 2007 Asian Cup, defeating Saudi Arabia 1-0. The championship drew crowds of people from different neighborhoods of Baghdad into the streets for a revelry, in which differences were put aside, celebrating guns fires were shot into the air and horns were sounded.

"I have bought extra fuel for my small generator in case of the breakup of electricity during watching the football game in my home," 28-year-old Sa'ad Mudh'hir said.

Mudh'hir said that the Iraqi players should play as a "team" to win the match to draw again the smiles on the Iraqis' faces.

The Iraqi national football team qualified for the first time for the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico .

Iraq and China first played in 1974. In their 14 international meetings, Iraq notched six wins while China pulled off five. They drew in three matches.

Source: Xinhua

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