Iraq Australia World Cup Qualifier in Dubai

When I first came over to Dubai, I saw that this match was scheduled and it has been on my must-do list since.  But over the past few days, there have been many obstacles – as the Australian team itself faced.  I heard that there was no-one to meet them from Iraq when the team arrived (normal protocol is for the home team to have someone there), game balls were not provided till later in the week, and there were difficulties in arranging practice times on the pitch.

For me, I have been scouring the Internet over the past few weeks and days looking for information about sourcing tickets.  There does not seem to be a Ticketek or Ticketmaster style arrangement here.  On Thursday night, some guys after training heard that tickets will cost USD 100.  So the day of the game I rang the Al Ahli stadium to find out when the tickets will be available and when I should come to collect them.  They said Australian tickets are not available yet but will call me back when they are.  I received a call about 11.45 am from them saying that they were available.

The trip there in the car is about 30 minutes to the other side of the airport, depending on traffic, it could have taken 50 minutes.  I thought it best to get some tickets before the game to make sure that I could get in – not knowing how hard it could be to rock up on the day. 

When I arrived at the stadium, there were a few Aussies already there waiting outside – for tickets!  If I was Iraqi, I could get a ticket for 20 dirhams – around $6, right there and then.  But they were not selling those to us.  Our tickets were coming – and they would cost USD100.  I think the Racial Discrimination Act and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission would have something to say if they tried that in Australia.

Tickets finally came and I bought my 2 – one for a friend as well.  I had to go off to the nearby supermarket to get some more money (and some more water – it was very hot out there and my neck got sunburnt with the waiting!).  After purchasing the tickets, I decided to leave my car there to be able to make a quick getaway after the game – a great idea as it turned out as there were not too many taxis to be seen when we exited the stadium. 

The game itself was in torrid conditions – very humid and still very warm.  I was sweating a lot just looking at the match!!  Iraq started well and had some early chances and their goal in the 28th minute was great – a long free kick that curled in to the top right of the goal – we were right behind it and saw the trajectory clearly.  Australia had a few chances to equalise – including right at the end but failed to capitalise.  So the score 1-0 to Iraq.  We turned the ball over too easily (especially in the first half), did not stretch their defence enough and lacked a killer touch to find the back of the net.

But the atmosphere was great – the Ffanatics were there – the Iraqis did some great dancing while blaring their Arabic music and the game itself was gripping to the end while Australia relentlessly attacked looking for that equaliser.   

It was disappointing to see some water bottles being thrown from the outer on to the ground.  They certainly did not come from the Aussies as we were not allowed to bring water bottles in (we had to pay for our water once in the ground).  Dared not drink too much as there was only one semi-functioning toilet for us all to use (the male toilet was being revamped).   Some pictures below – thanks Jaymi for the first two. I have some more on my camera but having trouble with my computer getting them off.

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