Iraq’s coach Qahtan Chitheer on Saturday said financial problems due to war and political turmoil back home affected their preparations for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
Chitheer was speaking on the eve of their first match of the tournament.
“The situation in Iraq is hard. There are some issues but the players are extremely committed and we hope for the best,” Chitheer said.
Once ruled by dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq is currently fighting a long-drawn battle against the Islamic State.
Chitheer said their problem has been lack of funds.
“Our preparation was not ideal, not the way we planned because of financial and social issues. We played against some neighbouring teams and you can say we are almost satisfied and look forward to the tournament,” the coach said.
They played neighbouring teams such as Jordan, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia to avoid major expenses.
Iraq are in Group F, which also has England and Chile besides Mexico. The Iraqis had a 30-45 day camp before the tournament where the players assembled together but unlike their group rivals, they could not travel abroad to play against different styles and cultures.