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Iraqis Cheer - But Men's Football Team Fails to Win Gold at Asian Games


Iraq's men's football team sought to give their compatriots a reason to cheer Friday and provide a brief break from the daily violence in the country.

Many Iraqis tuned in to see host country Qatar beat Iraq 1-0 in the men's football finals at the Asian Games in Doha Friday. Qatar won the gold medal, while Iraq took the silver.

Iraq's football team has persisted, despite the cycle of sectarian violence that has claimed the lives of several sports figures.

In a statement, the top U.S. officials in Iraq, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and General George Casey, congratulated the Iraqi people for the soccer team's "outstanding performance" in the Asian games. The two officials said the silver medal demonstrates the "capabilities of the Iraqi people when they unite across sectarian lines for a common purpose."

Iraq last won the Asian Games football gold in 1982, when the team defeated Kuwait 1-0 in New Delhi.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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