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Shaikh Salman praises Lions’ spirit

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has praised the fighting spirit of the young Iraqis who lost 7-6 on penalties to Uruguay in the semi-final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

“Three Asian teams were in the quarter-finals of this competition and one missing the final berth by a whisker shows a marked improvement in the standard of Asian teams,” said Shaikh Salman, who cheered the Mesopotamian Lions at the Huseyin Avni Aker Stadium in Trabzon as the under 20s became only the second Iraqi team to make it as far as the semi-finals of a FIFA tournament after the men’s team made the last four at the Olympic Football Tournament in 2004.

“I am proud to see the way these youngsters have played in this game. Their never-say-die attitude and determination to achieve success is praiseworthy,” he said.

“The performance of Asian teams in this competition definitely augurs well for the development of youth football in the continent and I would like to wish them luck when they meet Ghana in the third-place playoff.

“I would like to congratulate the young Asian heroes and I am sure that this tournament has given Asia its future stars. I would also like all the Member Associations to infuse the resources in grassroots and youth football which will create a strong base for the future national teams.”

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