Iraqi Premier League 2018-19 Champions

History - Overview

Al Shorta were founded on 14 November 1932, and are the third-oldest existing team in Iraq. They were founded under the name 'Montakhab Al Shorta' (Police Select XI) to represent the Iraqi Police force in football tournaments. The first trophy the club ever won came in 1938, when Montakhab Al Shorta won the Taha Al Hashimi Cup after defeating Al Quwa Al Jawiya 1-0. Montakhab Al Shorta then defeated Al Quwa Al Jawiya again a year later, this time it was 2-0, in the final of the Al Quwa Al Jawiya Cup. On 15 May of the same year, Montakhab Al Shorta crushed Ittihad Al Karkh 5-1 in the final of the Al Olympi Club Cup to secure their third piece of silverware in two years.


Montakhab Al Shorta continued to participate in various tournaments until the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) founded the Iraqi Central FA League (most commonly known as the League of the Institutes) in 1948, a regional championship for teams in Baghdad and nearby cities, with Montakhab Al Shorta finishing as runners-up of the 1957-58 and 1960-61 editions.

Montakhab Al Shorta in 1937

In 1960, the Police Games Committee, later known as Police Games Directorate (PGD), was founded to take control of Police-representative sports in Iraq, and thus they took control of Montakhab Al Shorta. They also founded two affiliated teams: Shorta Al Najda (Police Patrol) in 1960 and Aliyat Al Shorta (Police Machinery) in 1961, which played in the same league system as Montakhab Al Shorta, and later founded Kuliya Al Shorta (Police College) in 1966.


Montakhab Al Shorta won their first league title in the 1962-63 season, coached by Fahmi Al-Qaimaqchi. They were then renamed to Madaris Al Shorta (Police Schools). Madaris Al Shorta were relegated to the second division and were disbanded in 1966.


One of the affiliated teams, Aliyat Al Shorta, had won the Iraqi Central FA Third Division in 1962 and the Iraqi Central FA Second Division in 1963 and they took on the mantle to represent the Iraqi Police force in the region's top-flight. Under the management of Mohammed Najib Kaban, they won the Police Director General Cup in 1965 by beating Al Tahriyat Al Janaiya 4-1 in the final and also won the Police Cup Championship that year.

The next few years would bring great success to Aliyat Al Shorta. They became the second team to achieve the Central FA League title four times in a row, storming to the 1966-67, 1967-68, 1968-69 and 1969-70 titles. The Harps also won the Alexandria International Summer Tournament in 1967 and the Republic Championship twice in a row in 1968 and 1969.


In 1971, Aliyat Al Shorta became the first Iraqi team to participate in what is now known as the AFC Champions League, in Bangkok, playing under the name of Al Shorta. The Police beat the defending Asian champions Taj Tehran 3-2 in the preliminary round, allowing them to have an easier draw for the group stage where they defeated Thai and Indian opposition to advance. They then came up against Taj Tehran, the winners of the other group, once more and the Police completed their mission of conquering Asia by beating them again, this time by a more comfortable scoreline of 2-0. Al Shorta refused to face Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv on two separate occasions during the tournament including the final (Israel were subsequently expelled from the AFC) and they received a heroes' welcome on their return to Baghdad for achieving a feat that will forever be remembered as the greatest in Iraqi club history.


Aliyat Al Shorta won another Central FA League title in the 1971-72 season, doing so without losing a single game again. They also won the Police Director General Cup again in 1972 by beating fellow Police side Shorta Al Najda on penalties in the final.

An Aliyat Al Shorta team photo from 1966

In 1974, the Iraqi Football Association decided to replace the Iraqi Central FA League and the other regional leagues in Basra, Kirkuk and Mosul with the Iraqi National League (now known as Iraqi Premier League), an official nationwide league of clubs, and Al Shorta entered the league as a single registered sports club under the name Al Shorta Sports Club. However, the players that were playing for Aliyat Al Shorta as well as Kuliya Al Shorta and Shorta Al Najda did not stay on at Al Shorta. Instead, the PGD continued to field three teams under the names of the original sides separately from the sports club to compete in unofficial tournaments such as the Armed Forces League, and the players represented these teams instead.


This was because the PGD were strongly opposed to the new league system and thus sent a team of amateurs to compete for Al Shorta in protest. Two heavy defeats in the first two games caused outrage among Al Shorta supporters, and after talks between the IFA and the Police Games Directorate, it was decided that all players from the side would be released and replaced by players who had been representing Kuliya Al Shorta and Shorta Al Najda. The following season saw the return of the players that had been playing for Aliyat Al Shorta including the likes of captain Abid Kadhim and Douglas Aziz which hugely improved the team.


Al Shorta won the first ever edition of the Arab Police Championship in 1976, defeating Al Shorta (Syria) and Al Shorta (Sudan) on their way to winning the competition. They repeated the feat two years later, winning the Arab Police Championship for the second time by defeating Al Shorta (Kuwait) 2-0 in the final. 1978 also saw Al Shorta reach the final of the Iraqi FA Cup for the first time, but they were defeated by Al Tayaran (later to be known as Al Quwa Al Jawiya) on penalties in the final.

An Al Shorta team photo from the late 1970s

In the 1979-80 season, legendary player Douglas Aziz became the manager of the club in his first ever managerial job and led the club to their first Iraqi National League title in that season as they leapfrogged Al Zawraa into first place on the final round of the season. Al Shorta nearly won the league for the second time in a row in the 1980-81 season as they ended the campaign unbeaten with equal points and goal difference to Al Talaba and more goals scored. However, the IFA adopted an unusual rule for the season whereby the number of wins would be the tiebreaker rather than goals scored and Al Talaba were therefore handed the title.


1982 saw one of the greatest achievements in the club’s great history. Led by Douglas Aziz, Al Shorta won the first ever Arab Champions League, known as the Arab Club Champions Cup at the time. Al Nejmeh of Lebanon defeated Al Ahli of Jordan 2-1 on aggregate to earn a two-legged tie with Al Shorta to battle it out for the title, with Ali Hussein Mahmoud’s brace winning the first leg 2-0 for Al Shorta before the second leg ended 2-2, meaning that Al Shorta had won 4-2 on aggregate and were crowned champions of the Arab Champions League, something only one other Iraqi team has done since.

An Al Shorta team photo from the 1981-82 season

Al Shorta won another competition outside of Iraq in 1983 when they won the President’s Gold Cup by defeating the Malaysia national team 2-0 in the final. The club changed their name to Quwat Al Emen Al Dakhili (Internal Security Forces) in 1983 before returning to the name Al Shorta a year later. In 1985, Al Shorta won the Arab Police Championship for the third time, with Mohammed Khalaf’s goal being enough to defeat Al Shorta (Saudi Arabia) 1-0 in the final and secure the title.


Al Shorta won the Arab Police Championship for the fourth time in 1988 and followed that up by winning the 1988 Saddam Qadisiya Championship, a tournament for the biggest four clubs in Baghdad. In 1990, the club moved into a new home as construction of the Al Shorta Stadium was completed. Al Shorta lost the 1992 Victory and Peace Championship final 2-0 to Al Najaf, but bounced back by winning the Great Victory Championship in 1996. Al Shorta also reached the finals of the 1995-96 Iraqi FA Cup, 1996-97 Iraqi FA Cup final and 1997 Iraqi Elite Cup.

An Al Shorta team photo next to the Arab Police Championship trophy in 1985

Al Shorta made history in the 1997-98 season. Managed by Abdelilah Abdel-Hameed, Al Shorta won the Iraqi Premier League for the second time in one of the closest, most exciting endings ever to a football season. Al Quwa Al Jawiya, Al Shorta and Al Zawraa were all in the running for the title on the final day. Al Quwa Al Jawiya were top of the league, and played out a 1-1 draw with third-placed Al Zawraa. This point was enough to win them the league provided Al Shorta did not defeat Al Sulaikh in a game that was going on at the same time. Al Shorta were 2-1 down but made it 2-2 on 84 minutes, before Al Shorta won a penalty in injury time and Mahmoud Majeed rolled it home to win the league for in the dying seconds of the season, leaving the celebrating Al Quwa Al Jawiya players and manager distraught. This qualified Al Shorta to the Iraqi Super Cup where they were defeated 1-0 by Al Zawraa. This season also saw them reach the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup.

Al Shorta players celebrate winning the Iraqi Premier League for the second time in 1998

Al Shorta also reached the quarter-finals of the 1999-2000 Asian Club Championship (later to be known as the AFC Champions League), just missing out on a semi-final spot in what was another respectable tournament for the club. Al Shorta became the first side to win the Iraqi Elite Cup three times in a row in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and won the Baghdad Regional League unbeaten in 2000. Arab Police Championship and Jerusalem International Championship titles were also achieved in 2002. The Harps reached the Iraqi FA Cup final again in both 2002 and 2003 without success, but made up for it by being crowned champions of the 2002-03 Iraqi Premier League (called the Iraqi First Division at the time).


In April 2003, legendary goalkeeper Raad Hammoudi became Al Shorta's club president and saved the club from bankruptcy as it was struggling financially during the war. Al Shorta participated in the 2003 edition of the Arab Champions League and the 2004 and 2005 editions of the AFC Champions League but were knocked out in the group stages in all three years. However, 2004 did see a better tournament for Al Shorta as they finished fourth in the Republic International Tournament, losing the third-place play off on penalties to Egyptian club Al Ittihad Al Sakandary.

Al Shorta fans cheering on the team at Al Shorta Stadium

2005 saw Al Shorta claim victory in the Baghdad Cup that was held in support of the families that had lost loved ones in the Al-Aaimmah bridge stampede, beating Al Quwa Al Jawiya 2-0. Later in the 2000s era, Al Shorta’s domestic results began to falter, and in the 2010-11 season Al Shorta were almost relegated, surviving the drop on goal difference thanks to Amjad Kalaf’s brace against Al Naft. Midway through the 2011-12 campaign, Ayad Bunyan became Al Shorta’s president: a man who would change the club significantly in the next few years.


Thair Jassam took over as manager for the 2012-13 season, and the club began to see improvements in their performances and results. Al Shorta managed to win their first trophy for eight years when they defeated Al Zawraa 1-0 to win the Baghdad Cup in 2013, and just two years after avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth, Al Shorta sensationally won their fourth ever Iraqi Premier League title to secure the double. Despite being on top of the table for the majority of the season, the 2012-13 title was not secured until the final day when Al Shorta thrashed Al Talaba 3-0 at Al Shaab Stadium to finish two points ahead of Erbil and three ahead of Al Quwa Al Jawiya.

Al Shorta players celebrate winning the Iraqi Premier League in the 2012-13 season

The next season, Al Shorta successfully defended their Iraqi Premier League title for the first time as they pipped Erbil to the title by just a point, and Brazilian Lorival Santos became only the second foreign manager ever to win the Iraqi Premier League (read our exclusive interview with Lorival here); Al Shorta also appeared in the AFC Champions League qualifiers and the AFC Cup group stage that season. They managed to get to the knockout stage of the AFC Cup the following year but were knocked out at the round of 16.


Ayad Bunyan's most recent stint as club president ended in March 2018, with Abdul-Wahab Al-Taei taking over and presiding over Al Shorta's sixth Premier League title triumph as they stormed to the 2018-19 title under the management of Montenegrin coach Nebojša Jovović. They added their first Iraqi Super Cup to the cabinet two months later with a thrilling 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Al Zawraa after a 1-1 draw in Kut.

An Al Shorta team photo from their title-winning 2013-14 season

 

IRAQI PREMIER LEAGUE HISTORY

1. In seasons marked with an asterisk, the overall league position is approximated based on positions in the groups.
2. Al Shorta's three penalty shootout wins and two penalty shootout losses in the 1988-89 season are counted as draws in this table.

Season
Position
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Goals for
Goals against
1974-75
5th (out of 10 teams)
18
8
3
7
29
33
1975-76
3rd (out of 13 teams)
24
14
5
5
41
16
1976-77
3rd (out of 12 teams)
18
9
5
4
22
11
1977-78
6th (out of 14 teams)
13
5
7
1
11
5
1978-79
2nd (out of 13 teams)
12
5
5
2
19
10
1979-80
1st (out of 12 teams)
22
14
7
1
41
15
1980-81
2nd (out of 12 teams)
11
6
5
0
21
7
1981-82
6th (out of 12 teams)
22
9
5
8
29
23
1982-83
6th (out of 12 teams)
22
7
9
6
19
20
1983-84
8th (out of 13 teams)
24
7
6
11
25
32
1984-85
Season abandoned
19
5
6
8
20
22
1985-86
6th (out of 16 teams)
15
5
8
2
15
12
1986-87
5th (out of 12 teams)
44
15
19
10
40
32
1987-88
9th (out of 16 teams)
30
10
9
11
23
28
1988-89*
11th (out of 29 teams)
20
9
5
6
17
16
1989-90
3rd (out of 14 teams)
26
15
6
5
32
14
1990-91
3rd (out of 17 teams)
28
15
9
4
38
18
1991-92
5th (out of 20 teams)
38
17
12
9
33
21
1992-93
4th (out of 24 teams)
69
33
22
14
101
51
1993-94
5th (out of 26 teams)
50
30
11
9
87
33
1994-95
6th (out of 24 teams)
46
26
12
8
91
49
1995-96
3rd (out of 12 teams)
22
11
4
7
26
17
1996-97
5th (out of 16 teams)
30
12
10
8
48
33
1997-98
1st (out of 16 teams)
30
23
4
3
71
30
1998-99
5th (out of 16 teams)
30
12
11
7
53
40
1999-2000
3rd (out of 26 teams)
50
33
11
6
97
34
2000-01
3rd (out of 16 teams)
30
19
3
8
60
26
2001-02
3rd (out of 20 teams)
38
24
8
6
86
36
2002-03
1st (out of 20 teams)
28
21
5
2
67
26
2003-04
Season abandoned
6
5
1
0
19
4
2004-05*
11th (out of 36 teams)
19
8
3
8
28
20
2005-06*
9th (out of 28 teams)
16
10
4
2
26
9
2006-07*
11th (out of 23 teams)
11
7
1
3
14
8
2007-08*
9th (out of 29 teams)
28
14
10
4
45
23
2008-09*
15th (out of 27 teams)
26
8
10
8
29
29
2009-10
6th (out of 36 teams)
40
19
14
7
54
38
2010-11*
16th (out of 28 teams)
26
8
11
7
28
23
2011-12
7th (out of 20 teams)
38
16
11
11
45
37
2012-13
1st (out of 18 teams)
34
20
12
2
62
29
2013-14
1st (out of 16 teams)
21
12
7
2
29
13
2014-15
3rd (out of 20 teams)
23
16
5
2
44
12
2015-16
7th (out of 20 teams)
25
10
4
11
26
31
2016-17
3rd (out of 20 teams)
36
21
12
3
55
26
2017-18
4th (out of 20 teams)
38
24
11
3
69
24
2018-19
1st (out of 20 teams)
38
28
7
3
73
22
2019-20
Season abandoned
6
2
3
1
11
10
TOTAL
-
1260
647
358
255
1919
1068
 

"THE INVINCIBLES"


Al Shorta are one of six clubs to have finished an Iraqi Premier League season without losing a single game; they achieved this in the 1980-81 season. Al Shorta's results from their 'Invincible' 1980-81 season are displayed below:

Round
Opponent
Result
Scorers
1
Al Adhamiya
4-0 win
Ali Hussein Mahmoud (2), Mahmoud Hussein Mahmoud, Thamer Salman
2
Al Jaish
1-1 draw
Faisal Aziz
3
Salahaddin
1-1 draw
Ali Hussein Mahmoud
4
Al Minaa
3-0 win
Ali Hussein Mahmoud (2), Mahmoud Hussein Mahmoud
5
Al Sinaah
1-1 draw
Adnan Jafar
6
Al Talaba
2-1 win
Faisal Aziz, Sabah Lazem
7
Al Amana (now Amanat Baghdad)
3-1 win
Faisal Aziz (3)
8
Al Shabab
1-0 win
Razzaq Hatem
9
Al Tijara
1-1 draw
Sabah Lazem
10
Al Tayaran (now Al Quwa Al Jawiya)
1-1 draw
Ali Hussein Mahmoud
11
Al Zawraa
3-0 win
Ali Hussein Mahmoud (3)

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