neymar, brazil iraq fifa, brazil iraq football
Brazilian forward Neymar. -File photo

STOCKHOLM: Brazil and Iraq will meet in a full international for the first time this Thursday - but both will be far from home as they take each other on in far-flung Malmo, Sweden.

Iraq are at least banking on some 'home' support to the extent that their compatriots are the largest immigrant community in this, Sweden's third city.

“Organising this historic encounter wasn't easy,” says Marc Biolley of Matchworld Group, who have set up the meeting between the five-time world champions and an Iraq side coached by ... former Brazil legend Zico.

The Iraqis turned to Swiss promoter Biolley with world body FIFA refusing to allow them to play home matches following a chaotic match against Jordan in the city of Erbil, capital of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan.

Iraq were also keen to meet some top-drawer opponents as they gear up for their October 16 World Cup qualifier against Australia in Doha.

Brazil fitted the bill nicely, particularly as they were otherwise free in an international week having already qualified as hosts for 2014.

The auriverde won an August friendly here but also lifted their first World Cup here in 1958 at the Rasunda stadium in nearly Solna.

The logistics make sense for Brazil also in that many of their top stars play for European clubs.

Those stars include Paris Saint Germain defender Thiago Silva but also Real Madrid veteran Kaka, who is slated to win his 83rd cap two years on from his last appearance.

The Brazilian roadshow will move on four days later to a meeting with Japan in Wroclaw, Poland.

The Iraqis have just one Europe-based player in Ahmed Yasin, who plays for Swedish top-flight side Orebro.

Malmo counts some 10,000 Iraqi inhabitants out of the overall 125,000 Iraqi nationals who live in Sweden. In addition, Denmark, home to a further 30,000 Iraqis according to official figures, is just across the bay.

Home club Malmo, three points behind league leaders Elfsborg with four games of the Swedish season remaining, stand to make a million Swedish korona (116,000 euros) from loaning out their 21,000-capacity Swedbank ground, though the club did not confirm the figure.

Club spokesman Per Welinder indicated he felt Thursday's match would not be a sellout.

“We hope there will be a good crowd - but we're not there yet,” he said Monday.

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Comments (1)

Dawar Naqvi
October 10, 2012 3:49 pm
Good Luck Iraq You will be a winner
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