Katanec reveals preliminary squad ahead of WCQ return

Iraq manager Sreฤko Katanec has revealed a 34-man preliminary squad ahead of the national team’s much-anticipated return to action.

The squad will meet up on 14 June to begin training, with the Iraq FA currently in the process of organising friendly matches with Jordan, Syria and Vietnam in preparation for the World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifier away to Hong Kong on 13 October.

Midfielder Mohammed Mezher and striker Mohammed Qasim Nassif have been called up following their impressive performances for the Iraq Olympic team, while teenage prodigy Mohammed Dawood makes his long-awaited return to the national team set-up having recovered from his injury.

Also among the returnees are full-back Frans Dhia Putros and Al-Shorta winger Mazin Fayyadh. Meanwhile, Osama Rashid, Justin Meram and Ahmed Yasin continue to be excluded from the squad by Katanec, with the Slovenian maintaining that their recent Iraq performances do not merit inclusion over the current players who have impressed lately in the qualifiers and the Gulf Cup.

Iraqis are counting down the days towards the return of the qualifiers, with the young team’s bright performances in recent games helping to build excitement and optimism. Katanec, who has the full support of the Iraq FA according to interim president Ayad Bunyan, will cut down the squad to 23 players before the Hong Kong game.

Iraq are currently top of their qualifying group; winning the group or finishing as one of the four best second-placed teams will secure qualification for the next round of World Cup qualifiers and seal a place in the 2023 Asian Cup.

Goalkeepers:

Jalal Hassan (Al-Zawraa)

Mohammed Hameed (Al-Shorta)

Fahad Talib (Al-Zawraa)

Mohammed Salih (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Ali Kadhim (Naft Al-Wasat)

Defenders:

Ahmed Ibrahim (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Ali Adnan (Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada)

Dhurgham Ismail (Al-Shorta)

Alaa Mhawi (Al-Shorta)

Ali Faez (Al-Shorta)

Saad Natiq (Al-Shorta)

Rebin Sulaka (free agent)

Mustafa Mohammed (Al-Zawraa)

Maitham Jabbar (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Frans Dhia Putros (Viborg FF, Denmark)

Hassan Raed (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Mustafa Maan (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Midfielders:

Humam Tariq (Ismaily, Egypt)

Amjad Attwan (Al-Kuwait, Kuwait)

Bashar Resan (Persepolis, Iran)

Hussein Ali (Al-Zawraa)

Safaa Hadi (PFC Krylia Sovetov, Russia)

Ibrahim Bayesh (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Mazin Fayyadh (Al-Shorta)

Mohammed Ridha (Al-Zawraa)

Sherif Abdul-Kadhim (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Mohammed Mezher (Al-Shorta)

Mohammed Qasim Majid (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Attackers:

Alaa Abdul-Zahra (Al-Shorta)

Aymen Hussein (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Mohanad Ali (Portimonense, Portugal)

Alaa Abbas (Al-Kuwait, Kuwait)

Mohammed Dawood (Al-Naft)

Mohammed Qasim Nassif (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)