Despite going out of the first round in this year's FIFA Confederations Cup, Iraq players were happy to leave South Africa with a good impression of the country's ability to successfully host the first FIFA World Cup™ in Africa next year.
The Asian champions kicked off their matches in the tournament with a scoreless draw with the hosts before losing 1-0 against Spain and sharing another goalless draw with New Zealand. The Iraqis' results were perhaps not what they wanted before the tournament but they all agreed that South Africa showed the world what to expect in next year's successful FIFA World Cup.
"I really enjoyed the tournament," said Iraq midfielder Nashat Akram. "I’m proud to represent my country and it was a big honour for me to be here at my second biggest tournament. Unfortunately we didn't have time to see a lot of places in the country," he added. "However, it was really a big experience to play in the Confederations Cup and hopefully we can come back in the future."
I'm proud to represent my country and it was a big honour for me to be here at my second biggest tournament.
Iraq other midfielder Mahdi Karim echoed the opinion of his team-mate although he pointed out that he hopes that the fans will fill the stadiums for each and every match next year.
"The Confederations Cup is a big tournament and it was a big honour forus to take part in it," said the 25-year-old midfielder. "We missed the chance to see some of the attractions of the country because we didn't have a lot of time to go out.
"South Africa must draw lessons from the Confederations Cup to stage the biggest event next year," he said. "This year it was only eight teams but next year it will be a lot more and there will be a lot of pressure. The main point which need to be improved is the attendance at the games and fans should fill in the stadiums in next year's World Cup to make it even more successful."