Iraqi Soccer Dream Comes True

Gen. Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Fardh Al-Qanoon security plan, a sub-division of the American Operation Phantom Thunder, said during a phone interview with the Iraqia TV channel that cars parked on the street within the hours of the curfew would be treated as potential booby traps.

A similar provision was put in place in Kirkuk. That curfew was to end at 9 p.m. local time, a couple hours after the match was complete.

The run-up to the final sparked excitement not only from the people in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Tikrit, but as much from the more than 2.2 million refugees now biding their time in Jordan -- where the Iraqi team trains -- Syria and Australia, to name a few.

The forum on aliraqi.org was flush overnight and the comments kept flowing in as the game progressed: "God Bless the Lions of Mesopotamia," proclaimed a poster identified as "Iraqisunshine." "Inshallah a win for us," he wrote, "Lord help our lions!"

When Younes connected for what would be the game-winning goal, "Iraqisunshine" was overwhelmed. As the Iraqiah commentator howled in delight, "Iraqisunshine" wrote, "OMG [Oh my God] I'm crying."

By the time Younes Mahmoud and Hawar Mohammed had settled to the turf at the game's end, the tears were flowing like the Tigris across what remains of Iraq. Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki promised each player from the winning side $10,000 for their trouble. Just how many return to the restive nation to collect the fee remains to be seen.

One reporter from Reuters, Peter Graff, wrote that "several of [his] colleagues wept with joy [after the win.] Everyone chanted, clapped, screamed and hugged, releasing the sort of emotion that cannot possibly be explained by football alone."

Football alone may not be enough to save Iraq from the centuries-old animosity that has seen the country devolve into an almost unprecedented scene of civil carnage. But for one day -- for 90 minutes and a few hours to follow-- the kind of glory that war can never match has lifted Iraq onto the throne of Asia.

ABC News' Mike Tuggle in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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