By now, I imagine that everyone has heard about Iraq’s victory over Portugal in Olympic soccer. But you may not realize how stunning this result is. It’s not just that Portugal is one of the top ten soccer powers in the world and Iraq has never accomplished anything of note in this sport. Olympic soccer teams consist of players in their teens and early 20’s. In this setting, Portugal ranks even higher. In fact, with the possible exception of Brazil, no country is thought to have better young players than Portugal. For example, winger Christian Ronaldo, who took David Beckham’s place at Manchester United, is arguably the best teenage player in the world, other than Everton’s Wayne Rooney.
But for the special meaning these games have for Iraq, I would have bet my house that the Iraqi team would not defeat Portugal.
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