Former Werder Bremen manager Wolfgang Sidka has been officially unveiled as manager of the Iraq national football team ahead of its defence of its 2007 Asia Cup championship in Qatar next year.
The 56-year-old German coach has put his name to a one-year contract worth $500,000, according to Iraqi Football Association (IFA) president Hussein Said.
"My mission with the Iraqi team will not be easy because I will be the manager during the Asia Cup," said Sidka, referring to the immense popularity of football in Iraq. "I will make sure to put together a strong side," he added.
Sidka succeeds the Serb Bora Milutinovic as manager as well as fellow German coach Bernd Stange who managed the team at the time of the US-led invasion in 2003.
Iraq has been grouped with Iran, the United Arab Emirates and North Korea for the Asia Cup in 2011. The country is aiming to recreate the glory of its 2007 Asia Cup triumph. The success, which came during a brutal sectarian conflict back home in post-Saddam Iraq, was portrayed as national triumph, given that the victorious squad was composed of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
Since then, however, the Iraqi national squad has been unable to recapture its form, failing to qualify for this year's FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, and putting in a lacklustre performance during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.