Malmö set for first-ever Brazil-Iraq football clash
Published: 10 Oct 2012 08:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Oct 2012 08:49 GMT+02:00
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Iraq are at least banking on some 'home' support to the extent that their compatriots are the largest immigrant community in this, Sweden's third city.
"Organizing this historic encounter wasn't easy," says Marc Biolley of Matchworld Group, who have set up the meeting between the five-time world champions and an Iraq side coached by ... former Brazil legend Zico.
The Iraqis turned to Swiss promoter Biolley with world body FIFA refusing to allow them to play home matches following a chaotic match against Jordan in the city of Erbil, capital of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan.
Iraq were also keen to meet some top-drawer opponents as they gear up for their October 16th World Cup qualifier against Australia in Doha.
Brazil fitted the bill nicely, particularly as they were otherwise free in an international week having already qualified as hosts for 2014.
The auriverde won an August friendly here but also lifted their first World Cup here in 1958 at the Råsunda stadium in nearly Solna.
The logistics make sense for Brazil also in that many of their top stars play for European clubs.
Those stars include Paris Saint Germain defender Thiago Silva but also Real Madrid veteran Kaka, who is slated to win his 83rd cap two years on from his last appearance.
The Brazilian roadshow will move on four days later to a meeting with Japan in Wroclaw, Poland.
The Iraqis have just one Europe-based player in Ahmed Yasin, who plays for Swedish top-flight side Örebro.
Malmö counts some 10,000 Iraqi inhabitants out of the overall 125,000 Iraqi nationals who live in Sweden. In addition, Denmark, home to a further 30,000 Iraqis according to official figures, is just across the Öresund Bridge.
Home club Malmö, three points behind league leaders Elfsborg with four games of the Swedish season remaining, stand to make a million kronor ($148,000) from loaning out their 21,000-capacity Swedbank ground, though the club did not confirm the figure.
Club spokesman Per Welinder indicated he felt Thursday's match would not be a sellout.
"We hope there will be a good crowd - but we're not there yet," he said Monday.