Great players: Basil Hanna

Photo from Panini 1986 World Cup sticker album

Basil Hanna was an Iraqi international soccer star who represented his country in the 1986 World Cup. In the latter stages of his career he played in the Canadian National Soccer League.

Basil Gewargis/Gorgis Hanna was born in Ankawa, Erbil, Iraq in 1961.

He played his club soccer in Iraq with with Al-Amana, Al-Shabab and Talab. He played in three cup finals in Iraq.

In 1985 the Iraqi national team won the Pan Arab Championship that was held in Morrocco. In the final Iraq beat Morrocco 1-0 with Basil scoring the winning goal.

The Iraq national team qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico by beating Syria in a two game play-off finals. In Mexico they were grouped with the home nation Mexico, Belgium and Paraguay. Iraq lost all three games by one goal. In the third and final group game against Belgium Basil was sent off. He first received a yellow card in what was a case of mistaken identity. He recieved a second yellow card when he started clapping for the referee for the first yellow card.

In 1988 the national team won the Arab Nations Cup. Iraq met Syria in the final. After 90 minutes the game was tied 1-1, Basil scoring Iraq’s goal. Iraq won the game on penalties.

In an interview with http://www.shakomako.net Basil explained that he emigrated to Canada when conditions in Iraq became unbearable due to the war. He was supposed to sign for Winnipeg Fury but failed to get his papers released from the Iraqi Football Association. Instead he ended up playing in a local league in Toronto. He also coached a youth team, the Nineveh Star.

At the age of 34 Basil joined Scarborough Astros of the Canadian National Soccer League in 1995. Basil was a regular starter throughout most of the season. The Astros however failed to qualify for the four team league playoffs.

Sources: http://www.shakomako.net; http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com; http://www.newspapers.com

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