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Triumph & Tragedy As Iraq Stuns South Korea to Move On to Asian Cup Finals

Over the weekend, I wrote about the celebrations that took place after Iraq’s win in the Asian Cup put them into the tournament semifinals.

Yesterday, the multi-sect Iraqi team played their Asian Cup semifinal match vs. South Korea. After 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, the two sides were still knotted in a 0-0 draw. To penalties they went, where Iraq prevailed 4-3. You can’t listen to the commentator get progressively animated as the end nears and tell me that you don’t get just a little bit excited as well.

Sadly, Iraq’s moment of glory was tainted by more violence, this time by people who were not out to celebrate, but to intentionally cause large-scale destruction. Suicide bombers set off 2 car bombs in the middle of streets packed with celebrating Iraqis of all sects, killing at least 50 people and injuring 130 more.

The bombings showed that insurgents “don’t want joy in Iraq,” said Ali Dabbagh, the government spokesman. “This is how they show how evil they are. But, at the same time, the celebrations show that the Iraqis are united. There were no chants about religion, no chants about what town they are from.”

On Sunday, Iraq will face Saudi Arabia in the tournament final in Jakarta, Indonesia. Despite the attacks, University student Ahmad Mudhar, predicted that Iraqis would return to the streets in celebration “to shame the terrorists” if Iraq wins the cup.

Hopefully the team will indeed win the championship on Sunday, and Iraqis will remain united for at least one more day, no matter who tries to stop them. People sometimes write sports off as something that doesn’t matter much in life, but sometimes sports can mean everything.

Sources: (MSNBC & Seattle Times)

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