Al Shorta will begin their bid to win their first ever Iraqi FA Cup on 25 October as they host Haifa at Al Shaab Stadium in the first leg of the Round of 32.
Haifa currently compete in the second-tier of Iraqi football, and have only played top-flight football once as they finished last in the 1999-2000 season. They played Al Shorta in the Round of 16 of the Iraqi FA Cup that same season and actually managed to knock out the Harps over two legs in what was a huge upset at the time.
The first leg will be played on 25 October, two weeks later than the other first leg matches due to the fact that Al Shorta have a total of ten players missing on international duty with the Iraqi national and youth teams.
The Iraqi football transfer window has officially slammed shut, giving us the perfect opportunity to provide you with the full lowdown on Al Shorta's business for the 2018-19 campaign.
Saying goodbye to the club this summer are a total of twelve players. Goalkeeper Neriman Khedher has moved to Al Sinaat Al Kahrabaiya, while defenders Ali Lateef and Ahmed Mohammed as well as utility player Nabeel Sabah have joined Al Talaba. Ghanaian midfielders Asiedu Attobrah and Akwetey Mensah have both departed, with the latter also signing for Al Sinaat Al Kahrabaiya, while Ahmed Ayad has been released following his return from a loan spell at Al Quwa Al Jawiya. Four forwards have left the club, with Jefferson Araújo signing for Manaus, Abdul-Qadir Tariq moving to Al Talaba, Aqeel Khairi joining Al Sinaat Al Kahrabaiya and 2013-14 Iraqi Premier League winner Karrar Hameed leaving to Al Hudod. The final departure is not a permanent one but rather a loan as midfielder Mohammed Mohsen moves to Amanat Baghdad for the season.
Incoming are a total of eight new players. Three of those are defenders - Iraq international Mustafa Nadhim joins from Al Najaf, Ahmed Nadhim signs from Al Talaba and former France U-19 international Mamadou Wagué arrives from Ukrainian Premier League side Chornomorets Odesa. Three midfielders have been signed to strengthen the Harps' spine, with lifelong Al Shorta fan Saad Abdul-Amir and former Al Shorta player Amjad Atwan joining alongside former Burkina Faso international Maarouf Yussuf who arrives on a one-year loan deal from Al Zamalek of Egypt just a year after being called up for the Nigeria squad. Two forwards in Iraq international Mohammed Shokan and Senegalese frontman Alassane Diallo complete the new signings, meanwhile a Brazilian defender called Carlos Santos was also signed but was released shortly after due to injury.
The changes are not only on the pitch. Al Shorta's manager from the end of last season, Haitham Al-Shaboul, returns to his usual role as the club's assistant alongside Ahmed Salah with Montenegrin coach Nebojša Jovović becoming the new manager after a trophy-laden spell at Al Faisaly in Jordan. He has brought in Marko Jovanović as his fitness coach and Zoran Banović as his goalkeeping coach. Haider Abdul-Zahra, Saad Qais and Hashim Ridha retain their roles as medical officer, director of football and administrative director respectively.
Al Shorta revealed their striking new purple home kit manufactured by Nike as they kicked off the 2018-19 campaign with a 2-0 win over Naft Al Wasat.
The Harps have decided to wear purple as their home kit colour this season rather than the usual green. Green was the colour adopted by the club after becoming a sports club in 1974, with purple being the colour worn by the Aliyat Al Shorta side of the sixties and seventies that famously conquered the AFC Champions League in 1971, and the decision to change back is sure to ignite debate among supporters.
The shirt features a map of Baghdad printed on its front, faded into the shirt in a way that makes it a stunning and stylish jersey for one of Iraq's most successful clubs.
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