FIFA World Cup™ finals history
Iraq first entered FIFA World Cup™ qualifying ahead of the 1974 edition and they took up the challenge again during the Spain 1982 preliminaries, having not participated four years earlier. Their dream subsequently came true when they clinched progress to Mexico 1986, where the Lions of Mesopotamia lost 1-0 to both Paraguay and the hosts in addition to a 2-1 defeat by Belgium, with Ahmed Radhi their sole scorer on the finals stage.  

The team

Despite that breakthrough appearance, Iraq have reached the final round of Asian qualifiers just three times. Nevertheless, they did manage to win their first AFC Asian Cup in 2007, a triumph that opened the doors to a berth at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. Positive results at the 2015 Asian Cup and the achievements of Iraq's youth sides in reaching the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 and winning the 2014 U-23 Asian Cup all bode well for Russia 2018.

The coach
Radhi Shnaishel replaced Yahya Alwan as head coach of the Lions of Mesopotamia in mid-2016​ after the latter had guided Iraq through to the third round of Asian World Cup qualifying. Former national team player Shnaishel returns for his third spell in the top job, having guided Iraq to a fourth-place finish at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

The stat
3 – The number of times Iraq have reached the final round of qualifiers in the Asian Zone, with the side going all the way just once.

The former stars
Nadhum Shaker, Ahmed Radhi, Hussain Said, Raad Hammoudi, Adnan Dirjal, Laith Hussein, Radhi Shenaishil, Ahmed Jassim