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Learning English - Words in the News
30 July, 2007 - Published 15:08 GMT
Iraq unites to celebrate football victory
The Iraqi football team are credited with uniting its country
The Iraqi football team has won the Asian Cup

The Iraqi football team said it wanted to give Iraq something to celebrate as a nation and it did. It beat Saudi Arabia one-nil to win the Asian Cup, providing Iraqis with a rare moment of joy and unity. Andy Gallacher watched the victory from Baghdad:

Listen to the story


Well that's it – victory for Iraq, the underdogs throughout this competition – throughout everything. And despite everything, they have now won the Asian Cup and the gunfire has already started. Authorities here have been trying to discourage that but it's going to be very, very difficult to discourage any kind of celebration in what is a momentous win for Iraq.

This team of fifteen men has managed to do what no politician has for a long time, perhaps generations; they've united the entire country. The team, of course, made up of Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds - the fans themselves of similar sectarian divides and those divides have really fallen to one side for the past few weeks as everyone has followed this team, who were underdogs from the start, and despite everything, have won the Asian Cup.

So it's a real momentous occasion for Iraq. Perhaps a security headache for the officials here, trying to discourage people from gathering in large crowds but I think the celebrations here in Baghdad and indeed across Iraq, will continue for many hours to come.

Andy Gallacher, BBC News, Baghdad

Listen to the words

the underdogs
the team which seems least likely to win

in spite of, even though, although

to discourage
to actively try to stop someone from doing something

a momentous win
a historic, very important, memorable victory

periods of time made up of about 25 years - enough time for babies to grow up and become adults and have children of their own

people who really like or are very interested in a particular activity, person or group, here, the Iraqi football team

sectarian divides
a term used to describe situations where people are separated or separate themselves from others because they follow different religions or are from different ethnic groups

fallen to one side
have been forgotten about, are no longer seen as important as they were previously

a security headache
a serious problem for the officials who try to make sure everyone is safe

large numbers of people who are gathered together in one place

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