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Ex-Bremen coach Sidka to lead Iraqi football team

The former Bundesliga player and Werder Bremen coach Wolfgang Sidka has signed a one-year contract worth 378,000 euros ($500,000) as coach of Iraq's national football team.

Iraqi and South African fans in Johannseburg during the Confederation Cup in 2009

Iraq didn't make it past the group stages in the Confederations Cup in 2009

Wolfgang Sidka, the former coach of German Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and Arminia Bielefeld, has signed a one-year contract to coach Iraq's national soccer team, the Iraqi Football Association said on Monday.

It is the second outing as coach of a national team for 56-year-old Sidka, who trained the national football team of Bahrain from 2000-2002. He also coached two Qatari teams, Al Arabi and Al Garaffa.

During his career as a player, Sidka scored 44 goals in 333 games for German clubs Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen and 1860 Munich.

"My mission with the Iraqi team will not be easy because I will be the manager during the Asia Cup [in 2011]," Sidka said in a news conference on Monday.

Tough task ahead

Iraq won the Asia Cup in 2007, but has struggled recently. The team failed to qualify for this year's World Cup in South Africa, and put in a lackluster performance during the Confederations Cup in 2009.

Adding to its woes is a sectarian dispute over who should run the sport's federation, which led to the Iraqi Football Association missing a deadline to elect new leaders. FIFA recently gave Iraqi officials an extra year in office to prepare for elections.

In the past two years, the international football governing body FIFA suspended Iraq twice from international competition because of political interference.

Author: Nicole Goebel (AP/AFP/SID)
Editor: Mark Hallam

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