|Yemen 1-4 Iran|
|Tehran: Hosts Iran fough back from conceding an early goal for the second time in the 2012 AFC U-16 Championship on Monday, recording a 4-1 victory over a Yemen side left counting the cost of having a player sent off in first-half stoppage-time.|
Mohammed Al Dahi put Yemen 1-0 up with just three minutes at the PAS Stadium played but after defender Alawi Fadaaq was red-carded for a violent tackle in first-half stoppage-time Iran made the most of their extra-man early in the second-half through Ali Rigi’s equaliser.
Free-kicks from Saeid Ezatolahi (60th) and Sasan Jafari (65th) put Iran firmly in the driving seat and after Iran twice hit the woodwork substitute Reza Karmollachaab scored number four with eight minute remaining to seal the win that guarantees Iran’s place in the quarter-finals.
Iran showed two changes from the side that defeated Laos 3-1 in their tournament curtain raiser with Danial Kazemni replacing Seyedsajjad Seyed in goal and Rigi spearheading the attack in place of Reza Karmollachaab while Yemen coach Amin Al Suanini brought in Mahdi Majfan at the expense of striker Abdulrahman Al Kumaim alluding to what might be a more defensive strategy against the tournament hosts.
But it was Yemen’s attack that had the early impact with Mohammed Al Dahi, scorer of the 79th minute penalty that earned Yemen a share of the spoils against Kuwait, shrugging of the attention of two Iran defenders to fire a low angled drive past Kazemni in the third minute as the hosts conceded an early goal for the second time in the tournament following their second-minute setback in the opener against Laos.
Iran were asking questions of the Yemen as they sought to get back in to the game but the Yemeni defence was holding strong with half-time approaching.
But Iran were handed the numerical advantage for the second-half when Alawi Fadaaq was red carded for a studs up challenge on Mohammadreza Bazaj in first-half stoppage time.
It was an over-exuberant and certainly unnecessary action from the Yemeni defender and Iran’s extra-man advantage told eight minutes after the restart when Rigi latched onto a defence splitting pass and lifted the ball coolly over Yemen keeper Abdulwahib Ebrahim for a deserved equaliser.
Five minutes later Rigi’s neat pass fashioned an opportunity for Amirmohammad Mazloum, who displayed some nimble footwork to before unleashing a powerful shot that was well saved by Ebrahim.
Iran got the lead their pressure deserved on the hour-mark when Saeid Ezatolahi’s free-kick deflected past a helpless Ebrahim before the hosts extended their advantage five minutes later when another free-kick, this time from Sasan Jafari found its way through a forest of players in a crowded area and straight into the back of the net.
Substitute Karmollachaab, who replaced Rigi in the 70th minute, made it 4-1 for Iran in the 82nd minute to cap a deserved victory for the home side.
Despite the defeat Yemen are still in with a chance of joining Iran in the last eight but they will need to beat Laos and hope that the host nation does the same in their final match against Kuwait.
Group A reaches its climax on Wednesday when Iran take on Kuwait at PAS Stadium while Yemen face Laos over at the neighbouring Rah Ahan Stadium with both games kicking-off at 1700 Tehran time.
“Football is like chess and the smallest of mistakes can cost you the game.”
- Ali Doustimehr
Tehran: Iran may have booked their place in the last eight of the 2012 AFC U-16 Championship with a 4-1 win over Yemen but head coach Ali Doustimehr expressed his concerns over his side conceding a goal in the first few minutes of a match for the second game in a row.
After being breached by Laos with just two minutes of their Group A opener played, Iran were again playing comeback in their second fixture when Mohammed Al Dahi put Yemen 1-0 up with just three minutes played at the PAS Stadium .
Yemen were more than a match for the tournament hosts up until stoppage-time in the first-half when Yemen were reduced to ten men with the sending off of defender Alawi Fadaaq.
Iran made the most of their extra-man early in the second-half through Ali Rigi’s equaliser before free-kicks from Saeid Ezatolahi (60th) and Sasan Jafari (65th) and a fourth from Reza Karmollachaab eight minutes from time comfortably sealed the hosts’ place in the quarter-finals.
For the fans, a win is a win, and the four second-half goals will serve as a fillip for the young Iranian players but for Doustimehr alarm bells are already ringing.
“I must apologise to the Iranian fans and media because we didn’t play well in the first-half and just as we did against Laos we conceded an early goal,” reflected the Iran coach.
“Yemen are a very good team and I knew it would be a tough game and after we didn’t play well in the first half I spoke to the players and was able to motivate them for the second-half and we scored four times.
“I agree it might be the pressure of the occasion because they are young players and they don’t have much experience. But we need to talk about this issue of conceding early goals as this will cause greater problems for us during the later stages of the tournament when we are up against the much stronger teams.
“Football is like chess and the smallest of mistakes can cost the game. We are not thinking about Yemen, Kuwait or Laos and we will do what we have to do achieve our goal of qualifying for the World Cup.”
Yemen’s dreams of a place in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE are now out of their hands with 2002 runners-up needing Iran to defeat Kuwait in addition to a victory for them over Laos when Group A reaches its climax on Wednesday.
But before Yemen coach Ali Al Sunaini turns his attention to the must win clash against the ASEAN side that surrendered the lead three times and conceded two stoppage-time goals to lose 4-3 to Kuwait in Monday’s earlier match at the PAS Stadium, he reflected on what might have been against Iran.
“As you saw we were leading the match and there is no doubt that the red card completely changed the game,” he said, referring to Fadaaq’s over-exuberant studs up challenge on Mohammadreza Bazaj that left his team-mates playing a man-short for the entire second-half.
“Our players didn’t adapt to this situation as they don’t have the experience.
“I don’t think we deserved the 4-1 result and it wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t receive the red card but this is football and we have to accept everything that happens.
“We still have a chance to qualify and Inshallah we will but we don’t know what will happen. Nobody expected Iran would score four times in 45 minutes in this match.
“We will look to recover from this game and do our best to qualify but nobody knows what will happen.”
Group A concludes on Wednesday when Iran take on Kuwait at PAS Stadium while Yemen face Laos over at the neighbouring Rah Ahan Stadium with both games kicking-off at 1700 Tehran time.