Iraq recall Yaser Kasim for match with Saudi Arabia in Basra

Yaser Kasim could make his first appearance for Iraq since the 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Australia in September 2016. (AFP)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Iraq recall Yaser Kasim for match with Saudi Arabia in Basra

LONDON: Iraq's coach Basim Qasim has named a 22-man squad for the friendly match against Saudi Arabia next week, calling up three new faces and handing a return to English-based midfielder Yaser Kasim for the first time in more than a year.
While Saudi Arabia head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi was afforded the luxury of naming his side for the match on Feb. 28 last month, Qasim has had to delay his selection for a couple of weeks. Several of the clubs had not replied as to whether players would be released for the friendly, which falls outside the FIFA International Match Calendar, and the Iraq FA did not want a repeat of the situation prior to the 23rd Gulf Cup, where the players had to turn down the call-ups on the eve of the tournament. Ahmed Yasin, of AIK, Ostersunds FK’s captain Brwa Nouri and Udinese's Ali Adnan will all miss out as they will not be released by their clubs.
The bulk of the squad therefore comes from Al-Shurta, who are second in the Iraqi Premier League. They have seven players in the squad, including defender Karrar Mohammed, who is back in the fold for the first time since 2016. Al-Naft's Bayar Abu-Bakir, who scored on his debut two years ago, is also back after a lengthy absence.
The newcomers are Al-Zawraa defender Mustafa Mohammed, a former U-17 international, Al-Talaba’s Arkan Ammar, who has started the season brilliantly with his new club, and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya striker Emad Muhsin, who scored the winner in the final of the 2017 AFC Cup to give his club a second AFC title.
The big surprise is the inclusion of Kasim. The midfielder, who moved to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s Northampton Town from Swindon Town last summer, said he planned to retire from international football only a few months ago, but he has performed a U-turn and now has the chance to add to his 18 international caps. His last game for Iraq came in Perth in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Australia in September 2016.

SQUAD TO FACE SAUDI ARABIA ON FEB. 28

Goalkeepers: Mohammed Gassid, Jalal Hassan, Mohammed Hameed

Defenders: Ali Faez, Mustafa Nadhim, Karrar Mohammed, Hussam Kadhem, Waleed Salim, Mustafa Mohammed, Ahmed Abdul-Ridha, Alaa Ali Mhawi, Bayar Aboubakir

Midfielders: Amjad Attwan, Yaser Kasim, Humam Tariq, Mahdi Kamel, Ali Husni, Hussein Ali

Attackers: Aymen Hussein, Emad Mohsin, Mohannad Abdul-Raheem, Arkan Amar


Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool

Updated 20 September 2018
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Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool

LIVERPOOL: Virgil van Dijk wants to create history with Liverpool this season as he set his sights on an unprecedented quadruple of trophies.
The Anfield outfit are full of confidence after recording six successive wins at the start of a season for the first time since 1961.
Having reached the Champions League final in the previous campaign, they opened up this one with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain thanks to an injury-time strike from Roberto Firmino after the French champions had pulled back a two-goal deficit.
While pundits have suggested Liverpool should prioritize the Premier League, van Dijk said they have the belief to do even better.
“Everyone is excited, feeling good, wanted to be part of this,” he said. “We know the season is very long, four competitions to play and we want to win everything. That’s basically our mindset. You need to have ambitions.
“With the size of this club, the people around here and with the history, we want to try to win everything. It’s going to be hard, we know it’s something very difficult to do, but we are going to try. That’s what we are here for.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit since I arrived here and hope to keep going. I want to win things, create memories here and write history as well with all of these boys.”
The Dutch defender also feels rivals will see Liverpool as contenders for the big prizes having overcome Neymar and Co.
“We were not in the [Champions League] final last season for no reason,” he added. “I think we should have already got the respect, but this season is new.
“Everyone starts over and we need to show it in every game. We need to keep going, keep improving, but also enjoy it. It’s the highest stage.
“If you are going to be on the pitch and you don’t believe it [that you can beat teams like this] then you need to stay home. You need to believe in your team. I have the belief. I’m enjoying it. You want to play in these games, you want to play these clubs. I think it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player.
“If you look at the team, the whole squad, players who are not even in there and have so much potential, so much quality, it says a lot about our team.”