By John Lee.
Iraq said on Wednesday that it is ready to host the 2015 Gulf Cup of Nations, with new facilities almost ready for the first football tournament to be held in the country since the US-led invasion in 2003.
The 2013 tournament, currently being held in Manama, was originally scheduled to take place in Basra, but it was moved for security concerns; some Iraqis believe said the decision was politically motivated.
Deputy sports minister Essam al-Diwan commented:
"Security and safety will be ensured ... We will work on organizing the best Gulf Cup tournament ever to be held. We trust our brothers in the Gulf will back us, and we got support promises from the heads of sports federations."
Al-Diwan said the new Sports City (pictured) in Basra will be opened in March, along with six hotels to accommodate teams and visitors.