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Iraq's Remarkable Run, the SuperLiga and Freddy's Fee

  • SI.com, Friday, July 27, 2007 4 PM
Iraq's first-ever run to the final of the AFC Asian Cup is a remarkable achievement, says SI.com's Grant Wahl, and not just because of the war (although that's most of it): the inexperienced Iraqis were never supposed to make it this far. It's certainly a team with some legitimate talent, having beaten favorites Australia and South Korea in succession. However, the most impressive thing about the Iraq team is that as a team made up of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, it represents an unbelievable triumph for sport over hatred.

But it was never easy, says Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira, who describes his experiences overcoming everything from the chaos of the Iraqi soccer federation to bringing players together who wouldn't trust one another based on their religious beliefs. And while suicide bombers tragically disrupted Wednesday's celebrations, the entire nation will celebrate even longer and harder if they beat Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Heck, they might even issue a cease-fire.   

Elsewhere in his column, Wahl applauds the SuperLiga for becoming an instant success where few believed it would be. The first -round matches were excellent and the MLS teams did quite well, which means the Mexican sides will be gunning to restore some pride this weekend. Wahl also touches on the Freddy Adu transfer saga, pointing out that MLS is willing to accept such a low ($2 million) bid for the 18-year-old because he could depart for nothing in six months. In that light, Freddy's transfer fee is rather high.

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