Iraq reinstated just three months ago

Updated: May 12, 2004, 4:47 PM ET
Associated Press

AMMAN, Jordan -- Iraq's soccer team qualified for the Athens Olympics on Wednesday, less than three months after the country was reinstated by the International Olympic Committee.

Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 3-1, and then clinched the third and final Asian qualifying spot when Kuwait held Oman to a scoreless draw.

Celebratory gunfire was heard in central Baghdad after the match, and tracers zoomed across the sky.

"It's a crazy joy for us," Iraq defender Ahmed Alwan said. "Despite all of the difficulties we faced, we still managed to qualify for Athens and I believe that we deserve our place in the Olympics."

Both Iraq and Oman finished Group C play with nine points, but Iraq won based on goal difference.

Only one team qualifies from the group.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press