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Iraq wins 'Arabian Gulf' Cup championship defeating Oman in Basra

Iraq defeated Oman 3-2 in the historic match in Basra, leading to celebrations throughout the country.
Iraq's midfielder Ibrahim Bayesh (L) reacts after scoring during the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup final football match between Iraq and Oman at the Basra International Stadium in Iraq's southern city on January 19, 2023. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)

Iraq defeated Oman at the Arabian Gulf Cup association football (soccer) tournament in Basra on Thursday. 

Iraqi midfielder Ibrahim Bayesh scored a goal at 24 minutes in to put Iraq up 1-0. This remained the score until 10 minutes into injury time when Omani midfielder Salaah al-Yahyaei scored on a penalty kick to tie the game and send it into overtime. 

Iraqi midfielder Amjad Attwan then scored a penalty goal at minute 116, followed by Omani striker Omar Al Malki scoring on a header three minutes later. At 122 minutes in — two minutes into the injury time following overtime — Iraqi defender Manaf Younis scored the final goal as Iraq won 3-2.

Many Iraqis rejoiced on social media after the victory.



A post shared by Babylon FM (@babylonfm)


The Arabian Gulf Cup is held every four years. Bahrain won the last tournament in 2019. Oman has won twice — in 2009 and 2017. Iraq also won in 1979, 1984 and 1988, according to Al Jazeera. 

Why it matters: Hosting the tournament was important for Iraq. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said that holding the event in the country showed Iraq is safe. He also called on FIFA to lift its security-related ban on Iraqi stadiums, the Kurdish Iraqi news outlet Rudaw reported. 

People in Basra gathered in the streets en masse to watch the match. 



Iraq defeated favorites Saudi Arabia en route to the final against Oman. The Saudi soccer team was coming off the 2022 World Cup in Doha, where they won a game against the eventual champions Argentina. 

The Basra tournament continued the momentum in the region following Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup. Arabic-speaking countries were well represented in Doha. Morocco made history by advancing to the semifinals, ultimately losing to France. An Egyptian company helped manufacture the soccer ball used in the World Cup

The tournament has not been without controversy. Iran summoned the Iraqi ambassador after Iraqi officials used the term “Arabian Gulf” when referencing the Gulf states represented in the tournament. Iran prefers the term “Persian Gulf.” 

Know more: One person was killed and dozens of others were hurt Thursday during a stampede in Basra ahead of the final match. 

Another major soccer event took place in Saudi Arabia as well on Thursday when Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain defeated the so-called Riyadh All-Star XI led by Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Ronaldo recently joined Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr football club and the Portuguese forward is by far the biggest player to ever play in the Saudi Pro League. Messi, who just won the World Cup with Argentina, has been linked to the Saudi club Al Hilal, though there is no indication he will sign with them. The Riyadh All-Star XI consists of Al Nassr and Al Hilal players. 

Paris Saint-Germain won the high-scoring match 5-4.

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