A little more than two weeks ago, 21 of Iraq’s most-talented teenage footballers boarded a flight from Baghdad to contest the FIFA U17 World Cup in India. On Thursday, they returned home after being eliminated in the Round of 16 by Mali, but the country they are returning to is a nation much changed.
Midfielder Saif Khalid alongside Iraqi coach Qahtan al-Rubaye who spoke of his belief that his sides success could heal the fractured country. (AP)
Iraq's Younis Mahmoud at a Confederations Cup match against Spain in South Africa in June 2009. (AP)