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.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”