UnNews:Soccer victory proves Iraq strategy is working, says Bush
29 July 2007
|UnNews Audio (file info)|
|Listen to this story!|
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq's victory in the Asian Cup final over Saudi Arabia on Sunday proves that America's new strategy for Iraq is working, say White House officials. The 1-0 match showed that the Iraqi athletes can hold their own and defeat opponents without direct help from Major League Soccer players.
Everyone credits the victory to President Bush's new strategy for Iraq's soccer program, which he unveiled last January. Before then, Iraq's soccer team had an abysmal record, losing in almost every match, often by embarrassingly wide margins. Bush put head coach David Petraus in charge, who completely revamped the team's strategy, putting more focus on training. "These guys would only train once or twice a week and were really out of shape," commented Petraus about the players, adding, "but with me in charge, they trained every day."
Despite Democrats' objections, the team was told to focus more on offense, not just defense. "You really have to take a proactive stance against your opponents if you want to win," explained President Bush a few months ago. The efforts have clearly paid off, as evident by the celebratory gunfire that killed dozens in Baghdad on Sunday.
Members of Congress have seized this opportunity to make another call for the withdrawal of U.S. athletes and trainers from Iraq. "Those men should be coaching their sons here in America, not Iraqis," appealed Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Fellow Democrats claim that now that the Iraqis have proven they can play on their own, the American presence in their country's sports program is no longer needed. Britain, under the leadership of new Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has a similar sentiment, with rumors spreading that superstar David Beckham will soon be withdrawn from Anbar province's "Car Bombers" squad.
But despite the recent victory, Bush officials caution that Iraq still has work to do to achieve worldwide soccer dominance. "Remember, this was just the Asian Cup," pointed out White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. "We can't make a full assessment of the Iraqi soccer team until September, when head coach Petraus will submit his report." Between now and then, the Iraqi team will play its first qualifier matches for the World Cup, which will be a more substantial test of their skills. "And I don't even want to think about the Olympics next summer," cautioned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Perhaps in a blow to Bush's optimism, the Iraqi government set up a clock after the win to count how long it takes for a bomb to go off. The hope was to breach five minutes.
- Hamza Hendawi "Iraqis bask in rare joy after soccer win" AP, July 29, 2007