Iraqis revel in soccer shocker

Updated: August 15, 2004, 11:56 PM ET
By Brian Church | Special to ESPN Insider
ATHENS, Greece -- For Mohaman Hiwa and thousands of other Iraqis, this city became a mini-Baghdad Sunday night.

Hiwa attended the Iraq-Costa Rica Olympic soccer qualifier at Karaiskaki Stadium, which is named for a Greek War of Independence hero who was shot dead nearby in 1827 (killed by his Ottoman enemies from the front -- or his Greek revolutionary comrades from the back; like many a penalty decision, it remains controversial).

"I love Iraq, I love soccer," Hiwa told Athens Insider, which made attending the soccer match more sensible than watching the U.S.-Australia swimming duel.

The 23-year-old Iraqi Kurd has lived in Athens for four years. He misses his country; he misses his parents. Tonight, at least, he got to see his soccer team.