I don't know much about Asian Soccer-- just a vague sense that the continent's traditional powers, Iran, Japan, Korea and Saudi Arabia, have been sending solid teams to the World Cup since it was held here in 1994. Saudi Striker Al Orawain announced the arrival of Asian soccer with the most memorable goal of that event-- a 70-yard run that sliced through the reeling Belgian defenders. In France in 1998, Iran's defeat of the much-hyped US side struck a geopolitcal chord among soccer jingoists here. And, in the first World Cup held in Asia, twin hosts Japan and Korea impressed, with Korea's defeat of Italy leaving a disfiguring scar from Torino to Palermo (this, I was assured by an Italian friend of mine, was on par with that country's 1896 military humiliation in Abyssinia).
With that in mind, congratulations to Iraq's 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in yesterday's Asian Cup Final. It is an extraordinary feat on its own, and, in the context of what is happening in Iraq, nothing short of a miracle. Someone please make a movie about it.
In the meantime, watch the goal that won it: