International legends to play in Iraq

2017-08-14 21:13

Basra - International legends will play in Iraq next month in an exhibition match aimed at helping people in the war-torn country to forget hardship, organisers said Monday.

The game in the southern city of Basra on September 9 is expected attract about 65,000 fans, and will feature former stars of top European clubs.

"We are going to give our best along with our Iraqi friends," former Argentina and Inter Milan striker Hernan Crespo told reporters in Basra.

He was joined at the news conference by former Spain defender Michel Salgado, who will also play in the match.

Salgado, a former Real Madrid right-back, said he hoped the "match of legends in Iraq" can help people to forget for at least 90 minutes "their hard conditions of life".

Among the other players who are to take part in the game are Brazil legends Zico and Rivaldo, as well as former Barcelona midfielder Deco, of Portugal.

Younis Mahmoud, Iraq's record international goalscorer and appearance holder, said he would participate in the match along with others who played in the side that won the Asian Cup in 2007.

"This is an important game for us Iraqis," he said.

Basra hosted Iraq's national team in June for their first home match since 2013, after the lifting of sanctions by world football's governing body FIFA.

The ban was imposed after a series of jihadist attacks that targeted football pitches and cafes during the broadcast of hugely popular matches.

FIFA lifted the restrictions in early May, limiting the holding of international matches to three stadiums in the country.

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