24-man squad announced for the Lions’ return to action

Iraq manager Sreฤko Katanec has announced a 24-man squad for the national team’s long-awaited return to action. The Lions will travel to Dubai for two friendly games against Jordan on 12 November and Uzbekistan on 17 November.

The squad will gather in Baghdad before travelling to the UAE where the two games will act as much-needed preparation for the resumption of the World Cup qualifiers early next year. Iraq are currently top of their group having picked up wins over Hong Kong, Cambodia and rivals Iran last year. 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.

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The squad includes 19 players from the Iraqi Premier League, with the remaining five players plying their trades in Bulgaria, Canada, Iran, Egypt and Qatar. Safaa Hadi and Mohammed Qasim miss out on the squad as they have been nursing injuries recently, meaning Al-Shorta midfielder Mohammed Mezher (pictured) is in line for a potential debut. Only three strikers have been called up by Katanec, with Mohammed Dawood failing to make the cut and Alaa Abbas not being selected as he awaits the completion of his move to Portuguese side Gil Vicente.

Katanec has found a group of players he is comfortable with – a group that was yielding some impressive results before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic with victories over Iran, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Slovenian has been present in the stands for a number of domestic league games and continues to keep an eye on players making a mark for their clubs, preferring to focus mainly on local talent as he leads Iraq through what will hopefully be a successful World Cup qualifying campaign.

Goalkeepers:

Jalal Hassan (Al-Zawraa)

Fahad Talib (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Mohammed Hameed (Al-Shorta)

Defenders:

Alaa Mhawi (Al-Shorta)

Mustafa Mohammed (Al-Zawraa)

Ahmed Ibrahim (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Maitham Jabbar (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Saad Natiq (Al-Shorta)

Ali Faez (Al-Shorta)

Rebin Sulaka (Arda Kardzhali, Bulgaria)

Dhurgham Ismail (Al-Zawraa)

Ali Adnan (Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada)

Midfielders:

Amjad Attwan (Al-Shorta)

Bashar Resan (Persepolis, Iran)

Mohammed Ridha (Al-Zawraa)

Hussein Ali (Al-Zawraa)

Mazin Fayyadh (Al-Shorta)

Mohammed Mezher (Al-Shorta)

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

Humam Tariq (Ismaily, Egypt)

Ibrahim Bayesh (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Attackers:

Alaa Abdul-Zahra (Al-Zawraa)

Aymen Hussein (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya)

Mohanad Ali (Al-Sailiya, Qatar)