LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS* in DUBAI: Iraq have two defeats in their luggage and need a tiny miracle to make it to the Round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup U-17 UAE 2013. But one man in their squad may have played himself closer to his dream.

Sherko Kareem is the 17-year-old from Kirkuk who has threatened Swedish and Mexican defenders in Iraq’s two first appearances in a U-17 World Cup.

The short and fast and midfielder sometimes disappears from the light, but when he is shining he is alight. At the moment he show his skills regularly in his club Al Shorta in Baghdad, but he dreams of going somewhere else.

”I want to play outside Iraq, also outside the Arabic region and Asia,” said Kareem, without looking too disappointed after the 3-1 loss against title holders Mexico in Al Ain. I want to be a professional player in Europe. I have got offers from Arabic clubs, but that is my second option.”

Again, after the 3-1 defeat by Mexico, he repeated: “It is my dream to play in the Spanish league or Premier League. I dream about it all the time.”

He will be heading for Europe after the tournament in UAE to undertake a two-week trial with Amsterdam club Ajax. The timing is not resolved as yet and Kareem has not been offered a contract.

He describes himself as a fast player who likes to run with the ball and solve situations with a lot of players around him with quick and short passes.

Against Sweden he could have left the pitch with at least two goals if it had not been for a double save and one-on-one stop from goalkeeper Sixten Mohlin.

Title holders

Kareem made a goal-scoring mark on Tuesday but Iraq lost 3-1 to title holders Mexico.

This was a match which saw Iraq were punished for their defending in the first half but put the Mexicans under pressure in the second when the started attacking.

Kareem said: “I have played well, I wanted to score goals, but I have only scored one. Now I am looking forward to the match against Nigeria.”

Kareem and his teammates have moved to Dubai for the last group match. A victory against the African side is the Iraqis’ last lifeline to advance to the next round if Sweden win against Mexico. Sherko Kareem knows that this match will be the hardest so far.

“Nigeria is our last chance,” he says,” so if we win that game it depends on other teams results. So we still have a chance”.


* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA

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