A couple of heartening news stories from the world of football over the weekend; the bigger one was the triumph of Iraq in the final of the Asian Cup in Jakarta, winning the continental title for the first time ever with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, with a goal from Kurdish striker Younis Mahmoud. Iraq's players are preoccupied with greater troubles than most professional footballers, primarily the security of their friends and family. Though the win will bring welcome cheer to a people whose nightmare has got progressively worse over the past twenty years, the squad and their Brazilian manager João Vieria are keeping quite level-headed about the ultimate significance of the victory; Vieira said after the victory about the spate of suicide bombs that have accompanied the celebrations in Iraq: "Its very sad; we changed Iraq's history, and then these senseless killings happen. If we lose, people get killed. If we win, people still get killed." Simple but economical. It is unlikely that the Bush administration will be quite so brazen as to use the team's success as an electioneering stunt as they did when Iraq reached the Olympic semi-finals in Athens three years ago .
On a lighter note,Viktoria Berlin and Hanau 93 played out the, erm, delayed final of the 1894 German championship. Viktoria had been awarded the title by way of a walkover that year as the Hessian team were unable to fund the 250-mile-journey to Berlin to contest the final. The two teams, both amateur as they were back in the day, played out a two-legged final under the auspices of the Deutscher Fußball Bund, which Viktoria won 4-1 on aggregate, laying to rest any doubt about their right to the title won when Bismarck and Nietzsche were still strolling on German soil. Alles gute, then.
Back on Irish soil, Sligo's draw for their All-Ireland quarter-final was not the most favourable, pitting them against Cork at Croker next Saturday, the team that ended their All-Ireland campaign two years ago. But we're used to a good dose of fatalism down in Sligo. It won't do us any harm.