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Wednesday, 01 April 2020

Defector Abbas called into Iraq team

AFP, Thursday 25 Sep 2014
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Midfielder Ali Abbas has been recalled to the Iraqi national squad seven years after defecting to Australia, his Sydney FC club said on Thursday.

Abbas, 28, has been named in an extended squad for November's Gulf Cup and for friendly matches next month against Yemen (October 10) and Bahrain (October 14), both to be held in Bahrain.

"It's been a long time that I've been waiting to play international football for Iraq again," Abbas told the Sydney FC website.

"Now the time has come, I'm proud to be representing my country of birth and can't wait to play in the friendly games against Yemen and Bahrain, although I will be disappointed to miss the start of the A-League season in Australia."

Abbas was a member of the victorious Iraqi national team that won the Asian Cup in 2007.

He fled his war-torn homeland after playing an under-23s international against Australia north of Sydney in 2007, and was later granted asylum to stay in the country.

Abbas, who has played for five years in the A-League, is hoping to make the Iraqi squad for January's Asian Cup to be hosted in Australia.

"It would be great to play in Australia for Iraq and great to play in front of the Sydney FC fans in the Asian Cup, if I'm selected," he said.

"We won it in 2007 and it would be fantastic to win it again."

Abbas's form over the last 12 months has impressed Iraq's head coach Hakeem Shaker.

He was Sydney FC Players' Player and Members' Player of the Year for last season.

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