Iraq’s Under-20 Soccer Team


War-weary Iraqis have reason to celebrate: Iraq’s under-20 soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey, where they will face Uruguay. The Young Lions of Mesopotamia defeated England, Chile, and Egypt in the group stage, Paraguay in the round of 16, and South Korea in the quarterfinals. Favorites Spain and Portugal have been elimiated.

For a country that still suffers from sectarian violence, this is extraordinary. “We built this team to be like a family,” coach Hakeem Shakir, the coach explains. If the Young Lions of Mesopotamia win tonight, they will face either France or Ghana in the final on Saturday. Their country deserves a fairytale ending.