All that stood between Iraq and winning $1.4 million was for someone to put a ball into a net behind a bunch of guys from New Zealand two times within 90+ minute. It would have put Iraqi soccer into a very rare category: Iraqi businesses making money. And it should have been simple: New Zealand has lost every single game they’ve ever played in a FIFA tournament.
Instead, Iraq failed to score once while Spain did everything in their power to help, throttling the host South African team like they thought they were Asians to put Iraq in a position to enter the money round and take home at least a million dollars from the Condeferations Cup. Instead, they’ll get nothing and they’ll like it. Couldn’t someone have told Iraq that they were playing Kuwait?
Even more awkwardly, this meant the New Zealand national squad (known as the All Whites) (and not for nothin’) finally avoided a loss in a FIFA tournament and helped push South Africa (not the All Whites) (and not for nothin’) into the semifinals of the tourney. It’s possible the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has gone into hiding to avoid having to untangle this one.
So if you’re curious how this particular rebuilding program is going, Iraq didn’t even qualify for the World Cup and they were banned from the Olympics. The one tournament they had any participation in ended ingloriously by not scoring a goal against a historically awful national team. Perhaps Italy should invade Iraq next time so at least they get some decent soccer out of the deal.