Al Shorta - 2013-14 Season Review

On this page, we take a look at another successful season for Al Shorta, the 2013-14 season. Although the league season had to be ended early, Al Shorta were crowned champions of Iraq for the tenth time in their history, as well as playing in the AFC Cup for the first time. This page will examine the season including what happened when and where, the stats and the facts.

October

Al Shorta made a number of additions to the squad in September, despite manager Thair Jassam leaving the club. After completing the signings of Iraq internationals Ali Bahjat, Ammar Abdulhusain, Mustafa Kareem and Qusay Munir as well as recruiting inexperienced winger Ahmad Hussein, they appointed a new manager, Brazilian Lorival Santos who became their third ever foreign manager in history. He was appointed alongside two more Brazilians who were assistant manager and fitness coach Anderson Nicolau and goalkeeping coach Marquinhos Domingues. This news was followed by the signing of youngster Hassan Ali, before October saw Mahdi Kareem, Syrian Hamdy Al-Massri, goalkeeper Nebras Salman and Brazilian Cristiano da Silva Santos join the team. The club also said goodbye to a whopping fifteen of the players that had helped the club win the league the season before. After 2-1 and 1-0 friendly wins against Al Minaa and Karbalaa respectively, Al Shorta got their new season underway, with the club attempting to retain their title and Lorival Santos aiming to become only the second foreign manager in history to win the Iraqi Premier League. They started with the ‘Iraqi El Clasico’; the fierce derby between Al Shorta and Al Zawraa was a tight game but with the help of Ali Khudhair’s sending off, Al Shorta managed to snatch a 1-0 victory with new striker Mustafa Kareem scoring the winning goal. The champions could even afford a missed penalty as Iraqi League newcomer Cristiano saw his spot-kick crash against the crossbar in the last minute. The win saw them move to third place in the table after matchday one.

Mustafa Kareem scoring the club's first goal of the season against Al Zawraa

Top 5 of the league at the end of October:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1.
Erbil
1
1
0
0
3
1
+2
3
2.
Al Naft
1
1
0
0
2
1
+1
3
3.
Al Shorta
1
1
0
0
1
0
+1
3
3.
Amanat Baghdad
1
1
0
0
1
0
+1
3
5.
Al Najaf
1
0
1
0
1
1
0
1

November

Al Shorta started November with a 2-1 win over Naft Misan that was achieved thanks to a last-minute winner from new Brazilian striker Cristiano; they moved up a place into second in the league. Their next game with Al Talaba was postponed, leaving the club with enough time to organise a friendly before the next league match and that friendly was a 0-0 draw with Iraqi Division 1 side Al Oloom Technology. That did not give them much confidence going into their league game at Al Najaf and that game also ended up goalless, but any disappointment was quickly dashed when it was announced that Al Shorta would participate in the qualifiers for the 2014 AFC Champions League which was huge news for the club. At the end of November, Al Shorta played out their finest game of the season, an astonishing 5-0 victory over Iraqi giants Duhok. Dhurgham Ismail opened the scoring in the first-half with a thumping effort before Mustafa Kareem added two tap-ins after the break and defenders Hamdy Al-Massri and Waleed Salem made it 5-0 to the champions, adding salt to Duhok’s wounds. Midfielder Mohammed Hadi and goalkeeper Amjed Salem also joined the club in November.

Amjad Kalaf challenging for the ball during the 5-0 thrashing of Duhok

Top 5 of the league at the end of November:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1.
Amanat Baghdad
5
4
1
0
7
2
+5
13
2.
Al Shorta
4
3
1
0
8
1
+7
10
3.
Erbil
4
2
2
0
6
+3
8
4.
Al Minaa
5
2
2
1
5
4
+1
8
5.
Al Quwa Al Jawiya
4
2
1
1
7
7
0
7

December

The first day of December saw Al Shorta cruise to a 3-1 win over Al Jaish in a friendly match, before they defeated Al Karkh 2-0 in the Iraqi League three days later. Mustafa Kareem (penalty) and Nashat Akram scored the goals, with Nashat’s goal being the last goal 'The Maestro' would score for the club before his move to China.

Al Shorta players celebrating Nashat's goal against Al Karkh

The win at Al Karkh sent the club to the top of the table, and they would remain there even after drawing 1-1 with Al Minaa in their next league match in which Mustafa Kareem scored his sixth goal of the season. The next day, the draws for the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup took place. Al Shorta would play Al Kuwait S.C. in the first qualifying round (out of three rounds) for the AFC Champions League. If they failed to advance past these three rounds, they would participate in Group C of the AFC Cup alongside the runners-up of the 2013 edition (Al Qadsia of Kuwait), Hidd of Bahrain and Al Wahda of Syria. If they did manage to qualify for the AFC Champions League, they would play in Group C of the tournament with Al Ain, Al Ittihad and Tractor Sazi Tabriz. Focus quickly switched back to the league game at Zakho but unfortunately the Police fell to their first defeat of the season, losing 1-0 in snowy conditions with a controversial penalty scored by Khalid Musheer separating the two sides. December 2013 also contained a very historic day for Al Shorta as the club revealed their new badge, featuring a mix of green, white and gold, with a gold star on top (representing Al Shorta's Arab Champions League triumph of 1982) as shown below.

Also, Nordic Sport announced the initiation of construction of the club’s new stadium, Al Shorta Sports City. The final day of the month saw the club defeat Naft Misan 3-0 in a friendly.

Top 5 of the league at the end of December:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1.
Erbil
7
5
2
0
12
4
+8
17
2.
Amanat Baghdad
8
5
1
2
10
6
+4
16
3.
Al Shorta
7
4
2
1
11
3
+8
14
4.
Duhok
8
3
4
1
10
11
-1
13
5.
Al Talaba
6
3
3
0
11
6
+5
12

January

2014 started with a series of friendlies for Al Shorta as it was the winter break in the Iraqi League. They played out four friendlies in January, winning 5-2 against Al Karkh and 1-0 against Al Zawraa and drawing 1-1 and 2-2 with Tala Al Jaish and Al Tadamon respectively. All of these friendlies were preparation for one of the biggest matches in the club’s recent history, the AFC Champions League qualifier with 2013 AFC Cup winners Al Kuwait S.C. January also saw the departures of Ahmad Hussein (to Zakho) and Hussein Kareem (to Al Zawraa), and the club announced a kit sponsorship deal with Royal Arena Sport too.

Al Shorta's Mahdi Kareem fighting for the ball with Ali Khudhair during Al Zawraa friendly

Top 5 of the league at the end of January:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1.
Amanat Baghdad
9
6
1
2
13
6
+7
19
2.
Erbil
7
5
2
0
12
4
+8
17
3.
Al Talaba
7
4
3
0
13
7
+6
15
4.
Al Shorta
7
4
2
1
11
3
+8
14
5.
Duhok
9
3
5
1
10
11
-1
14

February

February was a long, eventful month for the champions. Al Shorta began the month with a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat at the hands of Al Kuwait S.C. in the AFC Champions League first qualifying round as Iran international Javad Nekounam’s goal from long-range was enough to see them through to round two of qualifying despite Al Shorta dominating the game. Although they were defeated, they could take pride from the fact that they dominated the 2013 AFC Cup winners at their own ground. Al Shorta would still play in the AFC Cup which was something to look forward to for all those involved with the club. They returned to league action with a crucial game with title rivals Erbil at Al Shaab Stadium. They ran out 2-1 winners with a Mahdi Kareem penalty against his former club and a Cristiano tap-in securing the vital three points which would be three massive points for the club come the premature end of the season.

Cameroonian defender Innocent Awoa tackling Erbil's Amjad Radhi during the crucial 2-1 victory

Al Shorta then played out a goalless draw with Al Naft in the league almost a week later, despite Mustafa Kareem scoring a goal that was incorrectly ruled out for offside.

They then kicked off their first ever AFC Cup campaign against Al Qadsia, wearing their new home kit (shown on the left). It was a ‘home’ match for Al Shorta but the game was played in Qatar (as were all three of the club’s home games in the competition) due to the poor security conditions in Iraq. The game with the 2013 AFC Cup runners-up ended goalless with Al Shorta once again dominating the game; Mustafa Kareem missed three huge chances including an open goal tap-in. It was a promising start to what would turn out to be a disappointing tournament for the club. Furthermore, February saw three more important things happen. The first of those was the departure of Al Shorta’s legendary captain Nashat Akram, who joined Chinese club Dalian Aerbin. The second thing was that Al Shorta Stadium was being demolished so the club were to use Al Shaab Stadium for the rest of their home games in the 2013-14 Iraqi League. The third thing of note was the departure of the club’s Iraqi technical advisor, Nazar Ashraf.

Top 5 of the league at the end of February:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1.
Amanat Baghdad
13
8
2
3
19
12
+7
26
2.
Erbil
10
7
2
1
16
6
+10
23
3.
Al Talaba
11
6
3
2
19
13
+6
21
4.
Al Quwa Al Jawiya
10
6
2
2
14
11
+3
20
5.
Al Shorta
9
5
3
1
13
4
+9
18

March

Al Shorta played three games in March. The first two were AFC Cup group games with the final one being an Iraqi League match. They started the month with their first ever win in the AFC Cup, a 3-1 victory over bottom-of-the-group club Al Wahda. Although the home side took the lead in the opening period, two goals in as many second-half minutes from Amjad Kalaf and a penalty from Mahdi Kareem sealed an historic victory that put them on top of Group C. This would turn out to be the only game that Al Shorta scored a goal in in the entire tournament.

Captain Hussein Abdul Wahid going for the ball during Al Shorta's only AFC Cup victory against Al Wahda

News came through after the game that Al Shorta’s two main strikers, Mustafa Kareem and Cristiano, were both injured and would miss the remainder of the group stage. They then played out their second goalless draw of the tournament against Hidd of Bahrain, a draw that saw Al Qadsia overtake them and push the Police down into second in the group, with the absence of their two strikers clearly making an impact. The club returned to Iraqi League action with a much-needed 2-1 victory over Baghdad club Al Talaba, with Ahmed Ayad’s mazing run and finish accompanied by Amjad Kalaf’s well-placed penalty enough to secure the win, despite a late goal from Al Talaba.

Top 5 of the league at the end of March:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1.
Erbil
12
8
3
1
19
8
+11
27
2.
Amanat Baghdad
14
8
3
3
22
15
+7
27
3.
Al Talaba
15
8
3
4
24
18
+6
27
4.
Al Quwa Al Jawiya
14
7
5
2
19
12
+7
26
5.
Al Shorta
10
6
3
1
15
5
+10
21

April

April was an action-packed month for the Harps. Al Qadsia’s 1-1 draw with Al Wahda meant that Al Shorta would move to the top of Group C in the AFC Cup with a win over Hidd in Qatar, however they failed to capitalise on the opportunity, drawing 0-0 with their Bahraini opponents with Amjad Kalaf’s first-half dismissal doing little to help them out although Al Shorta maintained their position in second place. Al Shorta were struggling to find the net in the competition without Mustafa Kareem and Cristiano, and fell to their heaviest defeat of the season six days later when Al Qadsia comfortably beat them 3-0, despite Al Shorta having a man more than their opponents for the majority of the encounter. Omar Alsoma was the star man of the game for Al Qadsia, netting a hat-trick and pushing Al Shorta down into third position which was not enough to see them through to the round of sixteen. They then returned to league action and despite going a goal down at Naft Misan, Karrar Hameed’s first ever goal for the club equalised the game before two brilliant goals from full-back Dhurgham Ismail secured a good victory.

Al Shorta players celebrating during the 3-1 victory at Naft Misan

Their next league match was one of the fiercest derbies in Iraq’s history, the big game at Al Shaab Stadium between Al Shorta (Police) and Al Quwa Al Jawiya (Air Force). Youngster Sherko Kareem sprinted past the defence and slotted the ball home late on for his second ever goal for the club and it was enough to win the game for Al Shorta, who, despite Karrar Hameed’s open goal miss, were now four points behind league leaders Amanat Baghdad with four games in hand.

Sherko Kareem scoring the winning goal in the Baghdad derby against Al Quwa Al Jawiya

Back to the AFC Cup and Al Shorta needed to beat Al Wahda in their final group game and hope that Al Qadsia defeated Hidd in order for them to qualify to the next round, but neither result went their way with Al Shorta’s absence of strikers contributing to them playing out their fourth goalless draw of the tournament. The frustration of the players was evident, with Hamdy Al-Massri being sent off in the last minute for an unnecessary lunge on a player. Hidd defeated an unmotivated Al Qadsia 3-2 and these results meant that Al Qadsia won the group with Hidd coming in second (both had eleven points), Al Shorta in third (with seven points) and Al Wahda at the bottom (with two points). Although this was obviously disappointing for the club, it helped them to focus solely on the Iraqi League without any other distractions and play all of their games in hand.

Top 5 of the league at the end of April:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points 
1.
Amanat Baghdad
16
9
4
3
24
16
+8
31
2.
Al Quwa Al Jawiya
16
8
5
3
20
13
+7
29
3.
Erbil
14
8
4
2
19
10
+9
28
4.
Al Talaba
17
8
4
5
25
20
+5
28
5.
Al Shorta
12
8
3
1
19
6
+13
27

May

Al Shorta played five league games in May, more than in any other month. The first of those was their second 1-0 victory in a row in the league, this time against Al Talaba with Amjad Kalaf rounding the ‘keeper and slotting home in the sixth minute to win the game. Five days later, another early goal secured yet another 1-0 victory at Al Shaab Stadium, with Mahdi Kareem’s deflected free-kick in the second minute helping them to defeat Al Najaf. Al Shorta finally moved to the top of the table after they were behind for a long time because they had played fewer games than all of the other teams and “1-0 to Al Qeetharah” was becoming a common phrase among supporters with the club winning 1-0 three times in a row. The scoreboard at Al Shaab Stadium became accustomed to displaying that scoreline on its big screen too:

  • Al Shorta 1-0 Al Quwa Al Jawiya - 18 April 2014
    Al Shorta 1-0 Al Quwa Al Jawiya - 18 April 2014
  • Al Shorta 1-0 Al Talaba - 4th May 2014
    Al Shorta 1-0 Al Talaba - 4th May 2014
  • Al Shorta 1-0 Al Najaf - 9th May 2014
    Al Shorta 1-0 Al Najaf - 9th May 2014
  • Al Shorta 1-0 Zakho - 11th June 2014
    Al Shorta 1-0 Zakho - 11th June 2014
Al Shorta 1-0 Al Quwa Al Jawiya - 18 April 2014
Al Shorta 1-0 Al Quwa Al Jawiya - 18 April 2014

Al Shorta had won five league games in a row, but that winning streak came to an end at Duhok Stadium as they drew 2-2 with Duhok. Amjad Kalaf opened the scoring on 17 minutes before Duhok took a 2-1 lead but a fantastic 86th minute header from Mustafa Kareem, who had just returned from a lengthy injury, saved Al Shorta from defeat. They returned to winning ways six days later against title rivals Amanat Baghdad with a vital 2-1 win. Ali Rabo was sent off for Amanat Baghdad in the first-half and Ali Bahjat’s 44th minute free-kick gave Al Shorta the lead. Mustafa Ahmed equalised for the home side with only ten minutes remaining and it looked like Al Shorta would draw their second game in a row, but they managed to find a dramatic 88th minute winner as Mustafa Kareem’s effort was parried only as far as Sherko Kareem who fired the ball into the open net to secure three points and keep the club on top of the table.

Al Shorta's players pose for a team photo before the start of the match with Amanat Baghdad

They ended the month with a disappointing 0-0 draw with Karbalaa as Cristiano was denied an obvious penalty by the referee in the first-half; the Police could have lost the game but Karbalaa’s Brazilian Cleyton missed a penalty with nine minutes remaining, firing the ball over the bar. Had the Police won the game, they would have opened up a two-point gap between them and second-placed Erbil with two games in hand over the Northern club, but they failed to capitalise on the opportunity. This was the start of a disappointing run of games for the club.

Top 5 of the league at the end of May:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1.
Al Shorta
17
11
5
1
25
9
+16
38
2.
Erbil
19
11
5
3
25
14
+11
38
3.
Amanat Baghdad
21
9
7
5
27
21
+6
34
4.
Al Talaba
21
9
4
8
27
25
+2
31
5.
Al Quwa Al Jawiya
20 
8
7
5
22
20
+2
31

June

Al Shorta drew their next game again, this time with Al Karkh at Al Shaab Stadium. Hamdy Al-Massri scored an absolute screamer on 22 minutes to give his side the lead but the Police conceded two goals either side of the break to go behind before Amjad Kalaf’s late, late header saved his side from embarrassment and the Harps drew the game 2-2. Al Shorta were still top of the league but they were constantly blowing their chances to open up a comfortable lead over Erbil at the top of the table. They blew another chance in their next game at Al Minaa in another goalless draw with Amjad Kalaf and Cristiano (who had recently returned from injury) missing the biggest chances, although, luckily for Al Shorta, Erbil also slipped up, drawing 0-0 with Al Masafi. However, Erbil thrashed Al Zawraa in their next game to go two points clear of the reigning champions so Al Shorta had to defeat Zakho to regain their lead. Al Shorta did just that, securing their final win of the season at Al Shaab Stadium against Zakho with Ahmed Ayad’s confident finish from outside the box turning out to be the winning goal in another 1-0 win. Zakho went down to nine men late on with Rajaa Rafe and Hamid Esmaeil being sent off for the away side.

Al Shorta's Ammar Abdulhusain runs with the ball during the victory over Zakho

Al Shorta could have gone four points clear with a win against Naft Al Junoob at Al Shaab Stadium but, in what turned out to be their final game of the season, nine-man Police succumbed to a hugely disappointing 2-1 defeat to their opponents, with Dhurgham Ismall’s penalty in the second-half turning out to be just a consolation goal. Confidence in the Al Shorta camp was not high as they had won only one of their last five games, all five of them being against supposedly ‘weaker’ opposition. However, the club had earned their place on top of the table for their brilliant form earlier on in the season and were exactly where they deserved to be – in first position. Then, on 18/06/2014, the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) announced that the league was to be ended at its current stage with the table on that date to be the final standings with Al Shorta on top, a point ahead of Erbil. Reasons for the premature end to the season included the unrest in the country as well as the fact that Ramadan was approaching and temperatures were very high and most stadiums did not have floodlights so games could not be played at night. The news was greeted with celebration by Al Shorta supporters as the news filtered out that they had won the league title for the second season in a row and for the tenth time in their history. Lorival Santos became only the second foreign manager in the history of the league to win the title and he left the club on the highest of highs as Al Shorta earned an automatic spot in the 2015 AFC Cup group stage. It was another successful season for the club, and they can look forward to the challenge of winning their sixth Iraqi Premier League title and eleventh overall league title in the seasons to come.

.

Final league table:

Position
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals For
Goals Against
Goal Difference
Points
1.
Al Shorta
21
12
7
2
29
13
+16
43
2.
Erbil
21
12
6
3
29
15
+14
42
3.
Amanat Baghdad
23
11
7
5
33
22
+11
40
4.
Al Quwa Al Jawiya
22
10
7
5
32
21
+11
37
5.
Naft Al Junoob
23
9
9
5
26
22
+4
36
6.
Al Zawraa
22
9
6
7
31
25
+6
33
7.
Duhok
23
7
10
6
30
32
-2
31
8.
Al Talaba
22
9
4
9
28
30
-2
31
9.
Al Naft
23
8
6
9
26
27
-1
30
10.
Zakho
21
8
5
8
21
26
-5
29
11.
Al Minaa
23
6
10
7
26
27
-1
28
12.
Al Karkh
22
7
4
11
20
25
-5
25 
13.
Naft Misan
21
6
6
9
25
29
-4
24
14.
Karbalaa
22
2
10
10
12
27
-15
16
15.
Al Najaf
23
3
7
13
14
31
-17
16
16.
Al Masafi
22
2
8
12
18
28
-10
14

Statistics (league only)

General statistics from the league season
.
 
 
STAT
OVERALL
HOME
AWAY
League position
1st
-
-
Matches played
21
10
11
Wins
12
7
5
Draws
7
2
5
Losses
2
1
1
Goals scored
29
17
12
Goals conceded
13
7
6
Points
43
23
20
Clean sheets
11
5
6
Average goals scored per match
1.38
1.7
1.09
Average goals conceded per match
0.62
0.7
0.55
Number of matches failed to score in
5
0
5
Biggest victory
5-0 (against Duhok)
5-0 (against Duhok)
2-0 (against Al Karkh)
3-1 (against Naft Misan)
Biggest defeat
0-1 (against Zakho)
1-2 (against Naft Al Junoob)
1-2 (against Naft Al Junoob)
0-1 (against Zakho)

Note: All matches played at Al Shaab Stadium count as home matches for Al Shorta, apart from the 1-0 win against Al Zawraa and the 2-1 win against Al Talaba which both count as away matches.

Top scorers in all competitions

Top scorers in all competitions
 
 
 
 
 
RANK
POSITION
NATIONALITY
SQUAD NUMBER
NAME
GOALS (PENALTIES)
1
Forward
Iraqi
9
Mustafa Kareem
7 (3)
2
Forward
Iraqi
14
Amjad Kalaf
6 (1)
3
Defender/Midfielder
Iraqi
3
Dhurgham Ismail
4 (1)
4
Defender/Midfielder
Iraqi
18
Mahdi Kareem
3 (2)
5
Defender
Syrian
4
Hamdy Al-Massri
2 (0)
5
Forward
Iraqi
7
Sherko Kareem
2 (0)
5
Defender/Midfielder
Iraqi
19
Ahmed Ayad
2 (0)
5
Forward
Brazilian
30
Cristiano
2 (0)
6
Defender
Iraqi
2
Waleed Salem
1 (0)
6
Forward
Iraqi
27
Karrar Hameed
1 (0)
6
Defender
Iraqi
33
Ali Bahjat
1 (0)
6
Midfielder
Iraqi
N/A
Nashat Akram
1 (0)
 
 
 
 
TOTAL
32 (7)

Highlights

Highlights from the season can be seen on Al Shorta TV. For highlights of the 2013-14 Iraqi League, click here. For highlights of the 2014 AFC Champions League qualifiers, click here. For highlights of the 2014 AFC Cup, click here.

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