Iraq's inspiring Asian Cup win: 10 years on from the greatest sporting triumph you’ve never heard of

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It's just days after the 10th anniversary of Iraq’s victory at the Asian Cup and CNN World Sport reflects on how the team overcame impossible odds and briefly brought a war-torn country together.

In a series of videos looking back on the tournament, CNN speak to some of the team’s key protagonists and journalists who recall their experiences of Iraq’s unlikely triumph and claimed the continent’s most prestigious competition for the first time.

The Asian Cup tournament took place in the midst of ongoing bloodshed at home and the team consisting of Sunnis, Shias and Kurds was both a symbol of how the country could unite, but also a reminder of the political turbulence still facing the country.

Following the Iraqi’s semi-final win over South Korea, a suicide bombing in Baghdad claimed the lives of 30 people, wounding 75 more. It was rumoured that some of the players didn’t want to continue, but star player Sadir told CNN how the events in Baghdad in fact drove the squad on.
After captain Younes Mahmoud scored the winning goal against Saudi Arabia, people took to the streets of Baghdad to celebrate the victory in a moment that seemed impossible even just a few days previously.



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Godolphin's Home of the Brave pushed into second by amazing Atzeni

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Atzeni took the perfect line on long-shot Breton Rock in the Lennox.

Godolphin hope Home of the Brave was caught in the shadow of the post as he filled the runner-up spot for a second consecutive year in the seven-furlong G2 Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood Tuesday.

The five-year-old, trained by Hugo Palmer and ridden by James Doyle, was quickly into his stride and soon led the 13 runners on the inside rail.

He found more when pressed by Spirit Of Valor in the straight and rallied strongly to regain the advantage after Limato briefly hit the front inside the final furlong.

Home Of The Brave continued to stay on resolutely but was collared near the line by Breton Rock, who came wide from last to first for a half-length success in 1m 26.62s on ground described as good, good to soft in places in the straight.

“It was a great race from Home Of The Brave” said Palmer. “James was incredulous coming in, Home Of The Brave had fought back against Limato and beaten him off, and then still lost the race.”

“Credit to the winner, he has had to come past them all. We know Breton Rock is at his best when he can get his toe in the ground and that tells you the truth about the ground today. It is nice good ground but they are getting their toe in.

“There is no excuse for my horse. He won his race. The plan was always three runs in England and then we would look overseas. He has done nothing there today to suggest that it should change.

“I think he would be very competitive in a Breeders Cup Mile or something similar. He likes time between his races. The obvious thing is to give him a nice break and take him to California. “I couldn’t fault Home Of The Brave” agreed Doyle.

“He won his race with Limato, but Breton Rock has come down the middle of the track and done us all” The winning run capped a remarkable day for Italian rider Andrea Atzeni, grabbing the headlines with an incredible four-timer aboard Expert Eye, Breton Rock, Stradivarius and Shenanigans.

Stradivarius was the undoubted highlight, as John Gosden’s young upstart denied the Michael Belltrained Big Orange an unprecedented hat-trick of victories in the Goodwood Cup.

In a battle of the generations, as well as two Royal Ascot winners, the Queen’s Vase scorer beat the Gold Cup hero in a memorable running of the two-mile feature, which was newly-promoted to Group One status this year.

Stradivarius got the better of the front-running Big Orange by a length and three-quarters to become the first three-year-old winner since Lucky Moon in 1990.

“It’s a great day” said Atzeni. “I thought I had a chance coming here, but knew Big Orange was the one to beat.”

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Godolphin's Ribchester bids for fourth G1 mile victory in Sussex Stakes

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Talented horse: Ribchester.

Europe’s most highly-rated horse Ribchester tries for a fourth G1 mile success in the Sussex Stakes, the highlight of day two of Glorious Goodwood Wednesday.

The Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old ran on strongly to finish a close third in the same race 12 months ago before going on to gain a first G1 victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

After finishing third on his seasonal return in the nine-furlong G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan on March 25, Ribchester dropped back to a mile for the G1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 20, when he stormed clear for a decisive win.

Godolphin’s Iffraaj colt showed an impressive turn of foot for success in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. William Buick takes the ride again on Ribchester, with stable companion and likely pacemaker Toscanini (James Doyle) also among a nine-strong field.

Their opponents include this season’s English and Irish 2,000 Guineas victor Churchill, plus French G1 scorer Zelzal. “Ribchester is a very talented horse and we are very lucky to have him” said Fahey.

“I don’t think there is an issue with the track or the ground. He goes on any going and I don’t think that going round a bend at Goodwood will bother him.

“Ribchester was a little bit unlucky in the Sussex Stakes last year. He got himself into a position that didn’t suit, with both the winner and the second getting first run, while he was also a little keen.

“I am growing more in confidence with him every time I see him. The one thing with Ribchester is that he never lets us down.”

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