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Ex-Man Utd midfielder Iqbal targets first trophy in Qatar

Former Manchester United midfielder Zidane Iqbal is targeting a first career trophy as he looks set to play a key part for Iraq during the AFC Asia Cup in Qatar.

The 20-year-old opted to represent Iraq and, speaking to Sky Sports News, stressed that he is hoping to emulate the nation’s success of 2007 when they beat Saudi Arabia in the final.

“It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, it will be a very good experience for myself and I can’t wait to get started.”


Iraq begin their campaign against Indonesia in their opening game and will face Japan and Vietnam in their other group games.

Iqbal stressed the importance of taking each game as it comes but “ideally we’re going there to take the three points in each game and hopefully reach the final and bring the cup home, even if we aren’t favourites on paper”.

Now at Utrecht, Iqbal was selected in the squad despite struggling with injury problems this season but started his first game against Feyenoord just before Christmas.

His performance drew praise from pundits, and he will be looking to continue that in Qatar.

Iqbal made his debut for the Iraq national team in 2022

The 20-year-old has come a long way since his first team debut for the national side, a moment the young midfielder calls “surreal”.

“I made my debut for United and then a few weeks later I made my debut against Iran in Tehran. To make my debut in a game like that was special,” he said.

Iqbal joined Manchester United at the age of nine and made his debut as a substitute in December 2021 in the Champions League, becoming the first British-born South Asian to play for the club.

He could also have chosen to represent Pakistan and England but has “no regrets” over his decision to choose Iraq.

“I had three different options, I chose Iraq. It was my decision and my parents supported me. I am proud to be Pakistani and a Mancunian,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal has only been able to feature four times for Utrecht due to the injury issues but says that he has settled in well and is hoping to pick up more minutes after the Asia Cup.

“I’ve settled in really well. The lads, the team, the staff have really taken me in. They all speak English, which helps.

“Right now I’m focused on the Asia Cup, but I’ll also keep an eye out for the Utrecht results. When I’m back, hopefully pick up more minutes, learn as a player, and hopefully stay away from injuries.

“The team goal is to try and get into Europe for next season.”

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