In front of a raucous crowd in Erbil, underdog Iraqi club Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya has soundly defeated visiting Saudi side Al-Ittihad. The Nov. 6 game, an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League clash, was held at Franso Hariri Stadium in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
“The game and the atmosphere are beautiful,” Ali Al-Amir, a 21-year-old from Baghdad’s Karrada neighborhood, told Amwaj.media. Both Iraqi and Kurdish flags were in abundance around the crowd, along with Jawiya’s blue banners. Vendors worked the stands selling cups of pomegranate seeds and datil, Iraq’s version of the churro.
For neutrals, the main draw was French superstar Karim Benzema, who was acquired by Ittihad from Real Madrid over the summer amid Saudi Arabia’s push for sporting prominence as a part of its greater economic, and political ambitions. For a player of his stature to visit Iraq for a...
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