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iraqi prez 3x2Ras Al Khaimah: Iraqi Football Association President Najeh Hammoud Hraib has hailed his country’s grassroots and youth football development programme despite Iraq losing to Korea Republic in the final of the AFC U-19 Championship 2012.

The high-flying Iraqis were just seconds away from winning the crown for the sixth time in their history but Korea Republic grabbed a late equaliser and forced the match into extra-time and penalty shootout which the Iraqis lost 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

“The main thing is the consistency and the performance,” Hraib told

“The positives we can get is that both of our U-16 and U-19 teams will be featuring in the World Cups next year to showcase the talent Iraqi football has.
“Our performance was brilliant today specially in the first half.  This tournament serves as evidence of the good work we have been doing back home since the last four years and now we are harvesting the fruits.
“I won’t be surprised if a few talented youngsters from this team step into the senior national football team. Our performance here is also a confirmation that Iraqi football is yet again able to present good teams and players on the Asian level.

“Now the next task is to give a good account of the Asian as well as Arab football on the world stage where you have to lockhorns with countries from strong continents. We have to prepare ourselves right and the federation is already making its plans."