Amjad Kalaf Mansour Al-Muntafiq (Arabic: امجد كلف منصور المنتفق, born October 5, 1991) is an Iraqi footballer who plays as right winger for Al-Talaba. In 2005, he became the youngest player ever to play in the Iraqi Premier League and in 2011 he became the youngest player ever to captain Al-Shorta in a match.
Amjad Kalaf in 2014
|Full name||Amjad Kalaf Mansour Al-Muntafiq|
|Date of birth||October 5, 1991|
|Place of birth||Kut, Iraq|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Playing position||Right Winger|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 24 February 2019|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 1 June 2017
Kalaf has represented Al-Kut, Al-Shorta, Al-Zawraa and Al-Talaba in the Iraqi Premier League and also had a two-month stint at Erbil without playing any matches for them. He almost signed for FC Anzhi Makhachkala in 2012 but the move did not materialise and he stayed in Iraq. On the international level, Kalaf has scored four goals overall for the various national youth teams, and has represented the Iraq senior team 26 times, scoring against the United Arab Emirates in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
Kalaf is an Al-Shorta legend, having stayed at the club for nearly ten years. He saved the club from relegation in 2011 before inspiring them to win two league titles in a row soon after as well as scoring the club's first two AFC Cup goals and he went on to captain the team before he was released from the club in controversial circumstances by Mohamed Youssef.
The striker is the youngest of three footballing brothers, Mohammed and Alaa, the sons of former army track and field athlete Kalaf Mansour. Born and brought up in the city of Kut, Kalaf signed for the team as a youth player.
Kalaf broke into the first team in the 2004–05 season under coach Nassir Maribi. On 14 January 2005, he made his debut in a 2004–05 Iraqi Premier League match against Al-Basra, extraordinarily becoming the youngest player ever to play a match in the Iraqi Premier League at just 13 years old. That season, Al-Kut surprised everyone by finishing second in their group in the first stage with 8 wins, 2 draws and 4 losses, qualifying to the elite stage where they were brought back down to earth, losing all 4 matches. This was still an historic achievement for Al-Kut.
Unlike the previous season, Al-Kut were not very successful in the 2005–06 Iraqi Premier League. They won just 1 match, drawing 3 and losing 8, finishing bottom of their group and being relegated to the Iraq Division One. However it was a successful season on a personal level for Kalaf as he played a few games including the second half of a match against Misan on 25 November 2005 and the first 60 minutes of a match against Karbalaa on 3 March 2006. He caught the eye of Iraq U-17 coach Kadhim Khalaf who selected him for his 2006 AFC U-17 Championship squad.
In the 2006–07 season, Al-Kut played in the Iraq Division One and failed to earn promotion back to the top division. However, Kalaf continued his impressive performances. He played a friendly for the Iraq U-17 team against his own club Al-Kut on 11 November 2006 and the match finished 0–0. In this season he caught the eye of one of the biggest clubs in Iraq: Al-Shorta.
Al-Shorta signed Kalaf from Al-Kut in 2007, ahead of the 2007–08 Iraqi Premier League. Kalaf was described as a "prodigy of all prodigies" and ended up breaking into the first team of one of Iraq's biggest and most successful clubs almost immediately at just 16 years old.
Kalaf made his Al-Shorta debut in the first match of the 2007–08 season against Al-Shualah. He started the match on the bench but was substituted onto the field for the second half. Within the first minute of his Al-Shorta career, Kalaf scored a stunning overhead kick to put Al-Shorta 3–0 ahead in the 46th minute. He scored his second goal for the club in the very next match, the Iraqi El Clásico between Al-Shorta and Al-Zawraa to help Al-Shorta to a 2–1 win. In round 5, Kalaf scored the opening goal in a 4–2 win over Al-Ramadi, and he scored his fourth goal for the club in a 3–0 win against Al-Naft in round 21. He also received the first red card of his Al-Shorta career when he was sent off in a 3–1 defeat to Al-Zawraa. Al-Shorta finished top of their group in the first stage of the 2007–08 Iraqi Premier League season, with 13 wins, 8 draws and 1 loss. But they were knocked out in the elite stage where they finished 3rd in their group with 1 win, 2 draws and 3 losses.
Kalaf scored the second goal in a 2–0 win over Al-Ramadi on 84 minutes in the opening match of the 2008–09 league season, and in round 4 he scored against Al-Naft in a 2–2 draw. He scored against defending champions Erbil in the very next match but Al-Shorta lost 2–1. Further goals came for Kalaf that season as he scored against Al-Sulaimaniya, Diyala and against Al-Naft again. Al-Shorta finished in 8th place in their 14-team group that season with a record of 8 wins, 10 draws and 8 losses. For the first time in his career, Kalaf was Al-Shorta's top scorer for the season. This caught the eye of Iraq manager Radhi Shenaishil who gave him his international debut in 2009.
In the 2009–10 season, Kalaf missed a penalty in round 6 of the league against Al-Etisalat but Al-Shorta still went on to win the match 2–1. He scored the winning goal against Al-Nasiriya at Al-Shorta Stadium in round 13. In round 16 he scored the fifth goal in a 5–3 victory over Al-Diwaniya. In round 28, Al-Shorta played against Al-Naft at home. Al-Shorta were losing 1–0, but Kalaf scored in the 88th minute to make it 1–1, and he scored again in the 94th minute to win the match 2–1 for his team. His last goal of the season was against Al-Najaf in the final match of the season. If Al-Shorta had won that match, they would have qualified for the semi-finals, but they drew 2–2, despite going 2–0 ahead in the first 9 minutes of the game. Al-Shorta finished in 5th place in their first group with a record of 17 wins, 11 draws and 6 losses. This qualified for them for the elite stage where their record of 2 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss meant that they finished 2nd in their group and missed out on the semi-finals.
On 18 September 2010, Erbil announced the signing of Amjad Kalaf from Al-Shorta, alongside the signings of Ous Ibrahim (also from Al-Shorta), Ali Mansoor (from Baghdad), Mohammed Gassid and Mustafa Ahmed (both from Al-Zawraa). Four days later, the Iraq Football Association approved of the contract at their headquarters.
However, Kalaf did not feature in any of the friendly matches that Erbil had scheduled for pre-season and he wished to return to Baghdad. In November, two months after signing for the club, Kalaf's contract at Erbil was terminated. Former club Al-Shorta and fellow Baghdad club Al-Naft both made offers to Kalaf, and Kalaf decided to rejoin Al-Shorta ahead of the start of the 2010–11 Iraqi Premier League.
Kalaf scored goals in four consecutive matches between round 2 to round 5 of the 2010–11 Iraqi Premier League. In round 2, Al-Shorta defeated Al-Ramadi 4–0, with Kalaf scoring both the second and fourth goals. In round 3, they drew 1–1 at Zakho with Kalaf scoring Al-Shorta's equaliser. In round 4, Kalaf scored Al-Shorta's first goal in a 2–1 win over Al-Jaish and in round 5, Kalaf scored Al-Shorta's only goal in a 2–1 defeat to newly promoted Peshmerga. On 5 February, Kalaf scored the winning goal against defending champions Duhok, and four days later he scored in a 3–1 win over eventual runners-up of the league, Erbil. Kalaf suffered a serious injury which kept him out for months, and in his absence Al-Shorta's results plummeted as they went on a run of 1 win in 12 matches. This led to Al-Shorta finding themselves in a battle to avoid being relegated to the Iraq Division One for the first time in their history. Kalaf made his return on 1 July against Samarra, being substituted on in the second half, and scored within a few minutes to put Al-Shorta 1–0 up in a match they eventually won 3–1; Kalaf also missed a penalty in this match. In the final match of the season against Al-Naft, Al-Shorta needed a victory; if they drew or lost the match they would have been relegated. Al-Shorta won the match 2–0 and avoided the drop, with Kalaf scoring both of Al-Shorta's goals in the game to save them from relegation. Al-Shorta ended the season finishing 8th in their group, just +5 goal difference ahead of Al-Mosul who were relegated. Al-Shorta's record was 8 wins, 11 draws and 7 losses. For the second time in his career, Kalaf was Al-Shorta's top scorer for the season with 10 goals, despite being injured for a large period of it.
In Al-Shorta's first match of the 2011–12 season, a 0–0 draw against Al-Sinaah, Kalaf wore the captain's armband because the club's captain Ali Hussein Jalil and the vice-captain Fareed Majeed were both not playing. Therefore, Kalaf set a new record for the youngest player ever to captain Al-Shorta in a match at just 20 years old. Kalaf scored his first goal of the season in round 6 with a header against Al-Shirqat, before scoring another goal in round 11 against Karbalaa. On 14 February, his penalty in injury time secured a 1–1 draw with Duhok, and on 5 April he scored Al-Shorta's second goal in a 2–1 win against Al-Sinaah. The very next game, he scored the opener in a 2–1 victory against Al-Naft. In round 27, in the Iraqi El Clásico, Kalaf scored two goals as Al-Shorta won the match 3–2. The first goal was a rebound after missing a penalty, whilst the second goal was a header. Further goals came against Karbalaa, Al-Minaa (twice) and Zakho that season. Al-Shorta were challenging for a top-two position in the league for most of the season, which would have qualified them for the 2013 AFC Cup, but a terrible run of 6 defeats from their last 7 games meant that they finished 7th in the league. Kalaf was Al-Shorta's top scorer for the second season in a row, this time with 11 goals, the most that he has scored in one season for Al-Shorta. Al-Zawraa manager Radhi Shenaishil and Al-Shorta manager Mohammed Tabra both voted for Kalaf in their Team of the Season selections, but Kalaf did not make the final team.
Kalaf was linked with a move to close rivals Al-Zawraa in the summer transfer window of 2012 but he ended up staying at Al-Shorta stating that he loved the club. In the second match of the 2012–13 season Kalaf scored a penalty to make it 2–0 to Al-Shorta against Al-Najaf. In round 5 he scored in a 3–2 win against Al-Masafi. Kalaf's half-volley opened the scoring in a 1–1 draw in the derby with Al-Talaba in round 17. He scored a header against Al-Sinaah in round 18 and scored the first two goals in a 5–0 thrashing of Al-Masafi in round 23. In the very next game he scored a header to secure an important point against Al-Kahrabaa, drawing the match 1–1. On 16 June 2013, Kalaf featured in the 2013 Baghdad Cup final against Al-Zawraa and started the move which led to the cup-winning goal scored by Hussein Karim. This was Al-Shorta's first trophy in eight years. Returning to league action, Kalaf scored a penalty against Al-Naft and rounded the goalkeeper to score an open goal against Duhok with Al-Shorta winning the matches 2–1 and 4–3 respectively. In the final match of the season, Nashat Akram gave Kalaf the captain's armband as a sign of respect for his great services to the club. Al-Shorta won the match 3–0 to become the Iraqi Premier League champions, with Kalaf assisting two of the goals. Al-Shorta's record of 20 wins, 12 draws and 2 losses saw them finish two points ahead of Erbil and three points ahead of Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, winning the league for the first time in a decade and qualifying for the 2014 AFC Cup. As captain on the day, Kalaf was the first player to lift the trophy on the podium. Kalaf scored 9 goals for Al-Shorta that season, taking the club's top scorer award for the third consecutive season, and also the club's top assist-provider with 11 assists.
Kalaf played in the 2014 AFC Champions League qualifying play-off match with Al-Kuwait but did not score and Al-Shorta lost the match 1–0 and therefore did not qualify for the 2014 AFC Champions League and would instead play in the 2014 AFC Cup. After the departure of Nashat Akram in mid-February 2014, Kalaf was named Al-Shorta's club captain for the first time, but within just two games the decision to hand him the captaincy was reversed and the armband was given to Hussein Abdul-Wahed. On 12 March 2014, Kalaf made history by scoring Al-Shorta's first two goals in a 3–1 win over Al-Wahda in the 2014 AFC Cup group stage - these were Al-Shorta's first two goals ever in the AFC Cup. On matchday 4 against Al-Hidd, Kalaf received the second red card of his Al-Shorta career just before half-time; the match finished 0–0. In the 2013–14 Iraqi Premier League, Kalaf scored two goals against Al-Talaba, the first of those in round 10 in a 2–1 win and the second in round 13 in a 1–0 win. He scored a long-range goal in a 2–2 draw with Duhok in round 15, and in round 18 he rescued a point for Al-Shorta in their match with Al-Karkh by scoring a late equalising header as the match finished 2–2. Kalaf ended the season as Al-Shorta's second-highest top scorer, behind Mustafa Karim. Al-Shorta won the Iraqi Premier League for the second season in a row with a record of 12 wins, 7 draws and 2 losses, finishing one point ahead of Erbil. This meant that they qualified for the 2015 AFC Cup. In the 2014 AFC Cup they were knocked out of the group stage with a record of 1 win, 4 draws and 1 loss.
After the departure of Nashat Akram from the club for the second time in a year, Kalaf was named as Al-Shorta's permanent captain again. Kalaf was injured for the majority of the 2014–15 campaign, meaning that he scored just two goals in the season. Both of the goals were in the 2015 AFC Cup group stage. The first was against Al-Hidd in a 2–2 draw and the second was against Taraji Wadi Al-Nes in a 6–2 victory. Upon his return from injury towards the end of the season, he assisted a goal for Marwan Hussein in a 4–1 win over rivals Al-Zawraa in the league. Al-Shorta finished top of their first group in the 2014–15 Iraqi Premier League with a record of 12 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses, but were knocked out in the elite stage by finishing 2nd in their group with a record of 3 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses. They won the third place match by walkover and therefore finished 3rd. In the AFC Cup they reached the round of 16 but were knocked out by Al-Kuwait.
Kalaf scored his first goal of the 2015–16 season in a 3–2 defeat to Erbil in the 2015–16 Iraqi Premier League, before suffering an injury that would keep him out for a large number of games. When he returned, he scored a penalty against Erbil in a 2–0 win, as well as an important goal in a 2–1 win over Al-Hedood which saw Al-Shorta qualify for the elite stage by the skin of their teeth. In the first match of the elite stage (the derby against Al-Talaba), Kalaf was substituted onto the field in the second half after just recovering from a short term injury, and he scored a well-taken goal on 86 minutes to win the match 1–0 for his side. Against Al-Naft, he scored a goal but it was wrongly disallowed for handball. Al-Shorta finished fourth in their first group which qualified them to the final stage. In the final stage, Al-Shorta won just one of their seven games and finished the season in seventh place. Kalaf was Al-Shorta's second-highest top scorer this season, behind Ali Faez.
Kalaf made his first appearance for Al-Shorta in the 2016–17 season in their second match, against Al-Hussein, and scored his first goal in the following match against Al-Bahri in a 2–1 win. He then bagged two goals in a 4–0 win over Al-Karkh at the end of October, and missed a penalty against Al-Hedood in the following game, although Marwan Hussein scored from the rebound. He scored his fourth of the season with the only goal in a 1–0 win over Al-Kahrabaa in round 10. After a 2–0 loss to struggling Karbalaa, Mohamed Youssef decided to release club captain Amjad from the club due to "poor form". This decision was a very controversial one as many felt it was disrespectful of Youssef to dispose of Kalaf in such a manner when Kalaf had stayed loyal to the club for almost a decade and won them multiple titles, as well as the fact that Kalaf was the club's second highest scorer at that point in the season and many felt that something more personal had happened between the player and the coach. Kalaf turned up for Al-Shorta's next home game despite his release in order to cheer on his former teammates from the stands.
On 11 January 2017, Kalaf signed a contract with Al-Zawraa, fierce rivals of his former club Al-Shorta. Kalaf supported Al-Zawraa as a youngster, and he has stated numerous times in the past how much respect he has for the club.
He made his debut on the 14th of January Vs Al-Hedood in an Iraqi league match as a second-Half substitute in a match Al-Zawraa won 1-0. He scored his first goal on the following game against Zakho with a header in a match that ended 4-1 for the Baghdad Club. His first season ended with a 4th-place finish in the Iraqi league and they won the Iraq FA Cup, and they began the following season by winning the Iraqi Super Cup.
Kalaf's first international tournament was the 2006 AFC U-17 Championship for the Iraq U-17 team, under coach Kadhim Khalaf who called him up after his impressive performances for Al-Kut. Kalaf played a part in all three of Iraq's games. Iraq were knocked out in the group stage with 2 draws and 1 loss.
Kalaf made his debut for the senior national team at the age of just 17 years old when Radhi Shenaishil called him up for a friendly with Saudi Arabia on 22 March 2009. Kalaf did not start the match but was subbed on for Halgurd Mulla Mohammed. 6 days later he made his second appearance, against South Korea, being subbed on for Herdi Nuraddin.
Kalaf scored his first goal at international level in 2010 AFC U-19 Championship qualification, scoring the opening goal in a 2–0 win over Oman. Kalaf received a red card in the same match. On 16 January 2012, Kalaf played for the Iraq U-23 team in a match against FC Anzhi Makhachkala, with the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Roberto Carlos featuring for the Russian side. Iraq lost 1–0, but after the game Anzhi showed interest in Kalaf and got into contact with the player in an attempt to sign him, however the move never materialised and Kalaf remained at Al-Shorta. Kalaf participated in the 2012 Matchworld Cup for the U-23 team which started two days after the match with Anzhi. Iraq played three matches in the tournament, winning one and losing two, finishing 6th out of 8 teams.
Kalaf was called up for the Iraq senior team's 2012 WAFF Championship squad. He did not play the opening match, but was subbed onto the field on 52 minutes in the second match against Syria. He was subbed onto the field on 77 minutes in the semi-final, a 2–0 win over Oman, and was subbed on in the 74th minute of the final, but Iraq lost 1–0 to Syria and finished as the runners-up. Kalaf participated in the 2013 Islamic Solidarity Games for the Olympic team, scoring the first goal in Iraq's opening match, a 3–2 defeat to Turkey. Iraq drew their next game 0–0 against Syria, before drawing their final match 2–2 against Saudi Arabia, with Kalaf scoring Iraq's second goal in that match.
In the 2014 WAFF Championship, which actually started in 2013, Kalaf played the full 90 minutes in both of Iraq's matches, but both games finished 0–0 and Iraq were knocked out in the group stage. Kalaf's first trophy on the international stage was the 2013 AFC U-22 Championship, which was actually played in January 2014. In the opening match against Saudi Arabia, Kalaf assisted two goals, both scored by Marwan Hussein, as Iraq won 3–1. In the second match, Kalaf assisted another goal for Hussein as Iraq beat Uzbekistan 2–1. Kalaf did not feature in the final group match against China. In the quarter-finals, Iraq played Japan. With the scores locked at 0–0 with six minutes left of the match, Kalaf went on a bursting run and rounded the keeper to score the winning goal and put Iraq into the semi-finals where they defeated South Korea 1–0. In the final, Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1–0 to become the champions. Kalaf was awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award for the tournament.
In the 2014 Asian Games tournament, Kalaf was one of Iraq's key players. He assisted a goal for Younis Mahmoud in the opening match, a 4–0 win against Nepal, before Iraq beat Japan 3–1 and Kuwait 3–0 to reach the knockout stage. In the round of 16, Iraq beat Tajikistan 4–2, with Kalaf assisting the opening goal with a cross converted by Humam Tariq. Iraq defeated Saudi Arabia 3–0 in the quarter-finals, but lost 1–0 to North Korea in the semi-finals after extra time. They beat Thailand 1–0 in the third place playoff to earn a bronze medal.
Kalaf was called up for Iraq senior team's 22nd Arabian Gulf Cup squad in 2014. He was on the bench for all three matches, but was subbed onto the field in the second half of all three games. Iraq ended with 1 draw and 2 losses and were knocked out at the group stage. After this disappointing tournament, Radhi Shenaishil was reappointed as Iraq manager and he called up Kalaf for his 2015 AFC Asian Cup squad. Shenaishil showed faith in Kalaf, and Kalaf started all three group matches, being subbed off late on in the last two. Iraq beat Jordan 1–0 and Palestine 2–0 and lost 1–0 against Japan to qualify for the quarter-finals. In the quarter-finals, Iraq drew 3–3 with Iran after extra-time and won 7–6 on penalties to qualify to the semi-finals. Kalaf was on the bench but was substituted onto the field in the 107th minute. He did not take a penalty in the shootout. Kalaf played all 90 minutes of the semi-final which Iraq lost 2–0 against South Korea. In the third place playoff against United Arab Emirates, Kalaf provided an assist for Iraq's first goal and then scored his first senior international goal to put Iraq 2–1 up, but Iraq ended up losing 3–2 to finish fourth. Kalaf was subbed off on 86 minutes in this match.
Style of play
Kalaf's main attribute is his blistering pace. Described as "a gazelle on the wings", Kalaf (being the son of a former sprinter) has often made bursting, defence splitting runs down the right flank. He is also praised for his heading ability as he has scored many goals for Al-Shorta using his head, and his clinical finishing has allowed him to score more than a half-century of goals for his club. When played on the wing, he is capable of creating goals by putting in low or high crosses into the penalty area, as demonstrated by the fact that all of his assists in the 2013 AFC U-22 Championship and 2014 Asian Games tournaments were from crosses.
- As of match played 21 December 2016
|Al Shorta||2007–08||Iraqi Premier League||194||4||—||—||204||4|
- As of match played 30 January 2015
|1||30 January 2015||Newcastle Stadium, Newcastle||2–1||2–3||2015 AFC Asian Cup|
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