Iraqis considering new approach to U.S.-born Meram
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[March 20, 2017]
(Reuters) - Iraq may ask United
States-born striker Justin Meram to rethink his decision not to join
up with the squad for their World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia
With the Iraqis' qualifier against Australia on Thursday being
played in Tehran due to long-standing security concerns in Iraq,
Meram decided not to accept last week's call-up.
Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive
order temporarily banning the entry of travellers from six
Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.
Saudi Arabia is not on the list, and with several Iraqi players at
risk of picking up suspensions against Australia, officials at the
Iraq FA hope Meram will change his mind and travel to Jeddah for the
game on March 28.
"We talked to the team's head coach in this regard two days ago," a
team spokesman told Reuters.
"He has not made a final decision, but he may recall him because 11
players currently with the team have been cautioned in previous
matches and the coach fears maybe one or more of them will receive
another yellow card that will suspend them for the match against
Meram, who was born in Michigan to Iraqi parents, had said in an
earlier statement on his Instagram page that he would not
participate in the qualifiers due to reasons beyond his control.
"I have spoken with our manager, Radhi Shenaishil, and I appreciate
his, and the IFA's, understanding of my difficult situation," he
"This is certainly not a permanent break from the national team and
I look forward to representing my country again in the future."
[to top of second column]
Iraq's Justin Meram (7) celebrates with teammate Ali Fesny Faisal
(8) after scoring against Thailand during their 2018 World Cup
qualifying soccer match at Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok
September 8, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
Iraq are trying to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first
time since 1986 but have picked up just one win in their opening
five games and are in fourth place in their group.
They trail joint-leaders Saudi Arabia and Japan by seven points with
five games remaining. Only two teams qualifyautomatically for Russia
2018, with the third-placed team entering into playoffs.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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