10. Lebanon (2011)
Plain white shirt, with the country’s cedar tree emblem offering a classy addition to this minimalistic beauty. Worn in the stunning 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Asian powerhouse South korea in 2011. A definite case of less is more.
9. Palestine (2007)
Only recognised by Fifa in 1998, the ever-improving Palestinian national team has become a symbol of representation for their people. And never more than when wearing the country’s colours on the front of their green shirts, with the V-neck representing the flag’s red triangle. Unique.
8. Morocco (1986)
Incorporating the colours of the country’s flag, this strip was made famous by the beloved Moroccan team that graced the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The Atlas Lions topped a group that included England, Portugal and Poland, and came close to upsetting eventual finalists West Germany. Extra points go to goalkeeper Ezzaki Badou whose outfit recalled 1970s Sepp Maier.
7. Saudi Arabia (1994)
You’ve seen this shirt, because you seen “the” goal. Said Al Owairan parting the red sea of Belgian defenders to score one of the most famous goals in World Cup history. Appropriately, in one of Saudi’s more aesthetically pleasing white and green outfits, in their most successful World Cup to date, USA 94.
6. UAE (2015)
Ali Mabkhout’s volley. Omar Abdulrhaman Panenka penalty and an AFC Asian Cup quarter-final shootout win for “the Whites” over the reigning champions Japan. Cue weeping fans and ex-players, and a rendition of the national anthem by the delirious Emirati team to the few fans who had travelled all the way to Sydney. Adidas had supplied the UAE with their World Cup shirts in 1990, but this simple 2015 version, marking arguably the UAE’s finest international hour, is in a league of its own.
5. Tunisia (1978)
Simplicity itself. Tunisia’s red strip at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina was as platonic as it gets in an era before kit designers were allowed to run riot. Plain red, Adidas’s three stripes down the shoulder and the classic trefoil logo. Led by the fantastically talented Tarak Dhiab, the Eagles of Carthage drew with world champions West Germany and memorably beat Mexico 3-1 in this timeless classic.
4. Algeria (1982)
In contrast to Tunisia’s spartan kit four years earlier, this strip couldn’t be more idiosyncratic. From the asymmetric green and white shirt to the red socks, and above all the calligraphic “Algeria” across the chest, this classic strip is forever associated with Rabah Madjer, Lakhdar Belloumi and the nation’s most famous football day; the stunning 2-1 win over mighty West Germany at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
3. Egypt (2006)
Have you ever seen a team win a major trophy with an awful strip? No. No you haven’t. Egypt got this spot on. The plain red Puma effort saw the Pharaohs clinch the 2006 African Cup of Nations against the Ivory Coast in front of a hysterical crowd at Cairo International Stadium. Throw in a winning penalty by Egypt’s greatest ever player, Mohamed Aboutrika, and immortality is assured.
2. Iraq (2007)
The shirts that united a nation. As war raged I their home country, this indomitable Iraqi team, made up of Sunni, Shia and Kurdish players, miraculously won the 2007 AFC Asian Cup in Jakarta, beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in memorable final. With the Iraqi badge on their chests, the Lions Of Mesopotamia were never going to let their nation down.
1. Kuwait (1976)
One for the old timers. Kuwait’s golden generation of the mid-1970s and early 1980s were never as cool as when they wore these fabulous plain blue and white V-neck shirt at the 1976 Gulf Cup in Doha, and especially in the fabled 4-2 win over Iraq in the final. For the next few years the likes of Jasem Yaqoub, Abdulaziz Al Anbari and Faisal Al Dakhil were nothing short of cultural icons in the Middle East. Pure retro gold.
This article was first published in July 2017