Iraq goalkeeper plays just hours after death of new-born child — and then breaks down

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Naft Maysan's goalkeeper Alaa Ahmed is consoled by a teammate after the game. (Zidoun Cris)
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Updated 18 February 2018
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Iraq goalkeeper plays just hours after death of new-born child — and then breaks down

BAGHDAD A goalkeeper in Iraq’s top league hid the death of his newborn daughter from his teammates in order to take part in a key match, the player said Saturday.
“Several hours before the game my five-day-old daughter died because of complications during birth,” Naft Maysan stopper Alaa Ahmad told AFP.
Ahmad, 21, said he asked his family not to spread the information as he was desperate to play in the match Thursday in order to show off his capabilities against giants Al-Shorta, owned by the interior ministry.
“I took a lot on myself and did not tell my teammates or coach because I knew they would refuse to let me play,” he said.
Ahmad helped his underdog team to a 1-1 draw against their rivals but while other players began celebrating at the final whistle he said he was “hit by a bizarre sensation” and collapsed in tears.
News of Ahmad’s decision spread rapidly on social media and he was flooded with messages of support.
“It must be totally heartbreaking for him. May he find peace at this horrendous time,” read one tweet. “So sad RIP... but what a warrior of a dad,” read another.
Pundits heaped praise on his performance, with one of the match referees saying he put in a “spectacular” showing.


Late stunner from Toni Kroos gives Germany vital win over Sweden

Updated 4 min 23 sec ago
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Late stunner from Toni Kroos gives Germany vital win over Sweden

SOCHI: Toni Kroos has revived Germany's World Cup hopes with a superb late strike in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal a 2-1 win for the defending champions over Sweden.
Kroos curled a right-foot shot from the left edge of the area inside the far post after a set piece, with Germany down to 10 men. He tapped the ball to Marco Reus from the free kick and then launched his strike into the top corner.
Germany needed at least a draw to stay in contention in Group F after opening with a loss to Mexico. It is now second in the group, three points behind Mexico and level with Sweden. Mexico had a 2-1 victory over winless South Korea 2-1 earlier Saturday.
Sweden opened the scoring with Ola Toivonen in the first half after a counterattack that started with a passing mistake by Kroos' near midfield.
Reus equalized three minutes into the second half with a shot from inside the area after a pass by Timo Werner.
Germany played the final minutes with 10 men as Jerome Boateng was sent off for a second yellow card for a hard challenge on Marcus Berg.
Halftime substitute Mario Gomez had one of the best chances for Germany with a close-range header in the 88th that was saved by goalkeeper Robin Olsen.