Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul (L) is marked by Iraq's Bashar Rasan during a friendly football match between Argentina and Iraq at the Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on October 11, 2018. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq lost to Argentina in their first-ever match with the football powerhouse.
Even lacking star striker Lionel Messi, Argentina easily beat the Iraqi side 4 – 0.
Iraq will play Saudi Arabia on Monday in a friendly tournament that also sees Brazil participating.
International football returned to Iraq earlier this year when FIFA lifted a three-decade long ban on Iraq hosting matches. The embargo was imposed in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and remained in place because of security concerns and economic instability.
Iraq is ranked 89th internationally. The team, nicknamed the Lions of Mesopotamia, has competed in final round of Asian qualifiers three times, winning the AFC Asian Cup once, in 2007.