The busy pre-season campaign for Perth Glory continues when the West Australians host former Asian Champions Iraq at Dalmatinac Park next month.
The friendly fixture, which will be closed to the public, will be held on August 25, a week before the World Cup qualifier against the Socceroos at nib Stadium.
“Our last official match will be on the 21st August in Malaysia about 11 days from the official match against Australia. We’ve chosen the match against Perth, in Perth to be a training style match” said Gath Muhana from the Iraq Football Association.
Mr Muhana arrived in Perth this week to inspect training grounds for the national team ahead of the World Cup qualifier and took time out to meet Glory CEO Peter Filopoulos for a customary gift exchange.
“Nib Stadium is something that has been organised by FFA and will meet all the guidelines of AFC and FIFA. I won’t be looking at that stadium. I’ll be looking at the stadium where we will play Perth Glory (Dalmatinac Park) and also our training stadiums for the rest of the days before the match against Australia.”
Iraq missed out on earning a berth in last year’s Asian Cup final against Australia following a loss to South Korea in the semi-finals of the tournament and will arrive in Perth on the back of the Rio Olympics campaign and a series of friendlies against Malaysia.
“It’s not an old team” Muhana said.
“There’s about probably 7 to 8 players that are at Rio now with the big team. They will be joining us against Australia. It’s a very young, passionate team. Our main star for the Iraqi national team is Ali Adnan; he plays for Udinese in Italy so he’s a player to look out for. We also have players like Justin Meram who plays in America, we have in Sweden Ahmed Yasin, we have three players in Turkey so there’s a lot of professional players, a lot of young stars that are very passionate and will produce a world class match” he added.
Mr Muhana said he expected the national team to hold an open training session for the local Iraqi community but a decision wouldn’t be made until closer to their arrival.
Filopoulos said the friendly against Iraq was an “honour and a privilege” and a great opportunity to extend the team’s pre-season campaign against an excellent opponent.
“It’s going to play a key role for us in our preparations having built a new squad for next season, a relatively new squad with a lot of new players and we are looking forward to it”.
Filopoulos explained the only way the game could be sanctioned was if it was held behind closed doors.
“To attract the calibre of a World Cup qualifier to Perth, there’s a lot of commercial arrangements in place between the WA government and FFA and the Asian Football Confederation so protection of those commercial arrangements, they don’t want to take away from the main game the week after, which is the Socceroos versus Iraq.”
Perth Glory is currently in the Philippines preparing for it’s next pre-season match against a United Football League All-Stars outfit in Manila on Saturday night.