Category: AFC Asian Cup 2015

Ben Williams is to retire.

IMAGINE spending more than two decades at the very top of your field, and then when you retire, witnessing widespread celebration you were finally quitting.

That’s life as a football referee and the reality veteran Australian whistleblower Ben Williams faced today after announcing Tuesday night’s International Champions Cup match between Juventus and Tottenham at the MCG would be his last match in Australia.

“After 22 years on the national panels and 12 years as a FIFA referee it feels like the right time to hang up the whistle,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to spending time with my increased family and giving back to them for all the love and support they afforded me throughout my career.”

The referee who cruelly and unfairly red carded Mehrdad Pooladi in the quarter-final match against Iraq , is perhaps the most hated of all the referees by Iranian fans throughout the history.  Not Only this dismissal was unjust to the player, it meant that the team had to play the rest of the match and extra time with one player short. Williams fell a victim of Iraqi goalkeeper play acting and was too naive at the scene. No Iranian will be missing this referee for sure. Good riddance is quite appropriate for a man that has gave a whole nation a hardship.

It’s some resume, but do you think it meant anything to A-League followers on Twitter? Of course not.

Australian betting company — who are always attempting to find the lighter side of moments like this — were particularly savage.

One of their tweets — which included a gif of fans applauding the news — even prompted former ASADA boss Richard Ings to respond: “Why are people so unkind?”

But the betting gurus weren’t the only ones taking shots. This is how Twitter reacted.


Is Ben Williams guide dog also retiring or will he be given to one of the other refs

10 places up in FIFA ranking for Team Melli.

Team Melli climbed 10 places up in the latest FIFA/Coca Cola ranking issued today in Zurich.  Iran is now 41st in the world with 700 points one rank below Poland and one above its group rival in the World Cup 2014  , Nigeria who are 42nd.

Iran continues to hold the top ranking in Asia, with South Korea placed second with 608 points followed by Japan with 605 on third. Australia, the Asian Cup winner has fourth with a massive 37 places rise in the table.

The Asian teams climbs are all attributed to the results of the recent Asian Cup 2015 held in Australia.



Rank Team Total Points Previous Points +/- AVG 










41 IRN      Iran 700(700.50) 588 10 342.12 444.24 222.12 242.98 72.89
54 KOR     Korea Republic 608(608.24) 487 15 343.57 225.59 112.80 277.31 83.19
55 JPN     Japan 605(604.87) 563 -1 327.02 205.07 102.53 386.87 116.06
63 AUS     Australia 548(548.21) 329 37 272.38 259.19 129.59 229.34 68.80
66 UAEUnited Arab Emirates 529(528.94) 408 14 245.47 377.77 188.88 241.93 72.58
71 UZB     Uzbekistan 493(492.64) 464 0 202.48 287.67 143.84 331.28 99.38
82 CHN     China PR 429(429.19) 339 14 244.98 189.38 94.69 140.03 42.01
91 OMA     Oman 368(367.51) 346 2 146.02 255.33 127.66 167.45 50.23
94 IRQ     Iraq 360(360.10) 269 20 225.82 59.48 29.74 163.04 48.91
97 JOR     Jordan 353(352.54) 346 -4 102.88 310.32 155.16 160.85 48.25
98 KSA     Saudi Arabia 351(351.10) 318 4 122.58 297.06 148.53 127.91 38.37
103 BHR    Bahrain 322(322.48) 292 7 162.53 183.65 91.82 108.93 32.68
109 QAT     Qatar 305(305.34) 347 -17 141.62 150.66 75.33 173.98 52.19


Bright new stars light up Asia.

( Tuesday 3 February 2015

The 2015 edition of the AFC Asian Cup provided high-quality and entertaining football throughout the 32-match, three-week competition. Among the most attractive aspects were the performances of a host of youngsters who put themselves into the spotlight and proved they are likely to be grabbing headlines during the build-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ and beyond. takes a look at five names that shone brightly at Australia 2015.

Omar Abdulrahman (United Arab Emirates)
No player cut such a distinctive figure as mop-haired United Arab Emirates ace Omar Abdulrahman. The Al Ain-based No10 delivered in every department, featuring prominently in each TV highlights reel from the tournament. The Riyadh-born midfielder of Yemeni extraction has a repertoire of flicks and tricks that would be the envy of any futsal superstar, while his left-foot slalom dribbles boast a hint of Diego Maradona during the Argentine’s mid-1980s pomp. Abdulrahman provided four assists among UAE’s ten goals in their run to the semi-finals. His passing and understanding with free-running forwards Ali Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil helped the pair share nine goals, and ensures the UAE will be dangerous opponents heading into Russia 2018 qualifying. Though he made his national team debut back in 2010, Abdulrahman has now made a definitive statement on the international stage.

Massimo Luongo (Australia)
Arguably no one was as influential in Australia’s charge to their maiden Asian Cup crown as Massimo Luongo. So much so that the previously unheralded Sydneysider was named player of the Asian Cup for his tournament-high involvement in six goals (including four assists). That the 22-year-old Luongo wasn’t expected to be in the Socceroo starting side at the beginning of January makes his rise all the more meteoric. Luongo is an all-action, attack-minded central midfielder who likes to dribble at pace, link with fellow attackers and position himself between the lines. The Swindon Town-based Luongo was the only third-tier player to feature in the final, yet his all-round game was pivotal in Australia’s win over Korea Republic. His desperate block of Son Heungmin’s shot in defence was almost immediately followed by a classy turn and strike at the other end for the game’s opening goal.

Massimo Luongo

Sardar Azmoun (Iran)
Iran‘s big-name stars were to some degree eclipsed by a lean, newly-capped striker who garnered many of the headlines. Sardar Azmoun scored arguably the goal of the tournament with a deft balletic turn and prodded finish to net the only goal of the game against Qatar, securing a win which ultimately ensured Team Melli qualified at the top of their group. All this from a player who turned 20 just days prior to the tournament, and who had scored his first international goal only two months earlier. Azmoun, the son of an international volleyballer, was picked up by Russia’s Rubin Kazan at just 17 and has since been linked with numerous major clubs in Europe. The tall and athletically built forward seems to have all the potential needed to be an Iran star for years to come.

Sardar Amoun

Abdelkarim Hassan (Qatar)
Though Qatar exited in the group stage, the class of left-sided defender Abdelkarim Hassan is evidence of a bright future for Al Annabi. Hassan, a graduate of the famed Aspire Academy in Doha, not only boasts strong athletic capabilities but also a natural game sense. Watching Hassan push down the flanks and linking with team-mates, it is hard to believe he is still only 21, though now in his fifth year of senior football. Along with the likes of striker Mohammed Muntari, Hassan represents the vanguard of young players that could form the basis of Qatar’s team when they host the 2022 World Cup.

ِAbdulkarim Hassan Fadhallah

Lee Jeonghyeop (Korea Republic)
Lee Jeonghyeop proved to be another unlikely star of the 2015 Asian Cup. Uncapped prior to this year and away from the spotlight at unglamorous Sangju Sangmu, Lee suddenly found himself a pivotal part of Uli Stielike’s forward line as Korea Republic marched all the way to the final. Tall and boasting trademark South Korean spirit, Lee netted twice, celebrating with an army salute to acknowledge his military service. The winner against Australia in the group stage and the semi-final opener against Iraq proved crucial goals for an injury-hit South Korean side missing the considerable talents of Koo Jacheol and Lee Chungyong.

Lee Jeong Hyeop

Australia lifts the AFC Asian Cup.

AUSTRALIA has been crowned champion of Asia after a thrilling 2-1 win against South Korea in tonight’s Asian Cup final.

James Troisi’s extra time strike proved the difference as the home side delivered a performance a whole nation can be proud of.

“It has to be our biggest achievement, we won a trophy,” former Socceroo John Aloisi said.

Massimo Luongo — who was named player of the tournament — further enhanced his reputation as a man to carry the national team into the post-Tim Cahill era by scoring the opening goal.

South Korea spoiled the party by equalising in second half injury time, but Australia bounced back in extra time.

“I’m no good for words right now, I’m just super proud of everyone … I couldn’t be happier,” Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou said.

“The courage the players showed tonight was enormous.

“I knew we’d finish stronger. We pride ourselves on being fit … it was just a matter of taking our chances and we did it.”

Postecoglou was thrilled with what the victory could do for the game in Australia.

“I know the whole country will be off their couches and won’t be able to sleep tonight,” he said.

“Hopefully from now on our Aussies can take on the world.”

The only negative on a banner night for the world game Down Under was what appeared to be another serious injury to Robbie Kruse.

Continue reading for all the highlights of the game.

Ben Williams removed from refereeing a match in Iran.

Benjamin Williams, the controversial Australian referee has been stopped by AFC from removed as the referee of an official scheduled match in Iran.

Williams was supposed to be the referee of Foolad Khuzestan vs.  Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in the upcoming AFC Champions League match, but after the events of the Iran vs. Iraq match in Asian Cup 2015, the AFC has decided against sending the Australian to Iran.

Williams dismissed Iran’s left back Mehrdad Pooladi after two bookings for two innocuous offenses, both of which were controversial to say the least. The second booking was a flagrant carriage of injustice as seen by many independent observers. That dismissal meant Team Melli playing with 10 men for one entire half.

The AFC like FIFA, never admits to refereeing mistaken nor does it condemn them publicly. However, they do covertly suspend or discipline referees in rare cases where refereeing decision raises much controversy or strong protests. Ben Williams is a prime candidate for dismissal from the tournament after refereeing 3 matches in which he was error prone and whistle happy. Being an Australian has definitely saved his skin in this tournament, despite the fact that many of his compatriot media personalities have spoken against his decisions. Williams was not allocated any matches after the quarter finals and that controversial Iran vs. Iraq match.

Iran’s Alireza Faghani will referee the final match while Bahrain’s Nawaf Shukrallah will referee the playoff match. The two along with Rashvan Irmatov of Uzbekistan are considered to be Asia’s top 3 referees.

Alireza Faghani 3 IRN

Alireza Faghani selected for the AFC Asian Cup final.

The Iranian Alireza Faghani (photo) has been selected to officiate the 2015 Asian Cup Final between Korea Republic and Australia in Sydney, Australia.

The 36-year-old referee will be assisted by his compatriots Reza Sokhandan and Mohammadreza  Abolfazli in the match which will be played at the Stadium Australia. Fahad Al Mirdasi from Saudi Arabia will be the fourth official. After having been a reserve referee at 2011 Asian Cup and also at 2014 FIFA WC, Faghani has already officiated three group stage matches and a quarterfinal in this edition. Thus, this will be his fifth  apperance.

Nawaf Shukralla from Bahrain has been appointed to oversee the Third Place match, between Iraq and UA Emirates, to be played on 30 January in Newcastle at Newcastle Stadium. He will be assisted by his compatriots Yeaser Tulefat and Ebrahim Saleh, with Australian Benjamin Williams as fourth official.

Faghani has been consistently the best referee in Iran since the retirement of Moradi.


News leaks: AFC awarded UAE the hosting of Asian Cup 2019.

In Sydney , sources have leaked news that the AFC has already decided on the next hosting of the AFC Asian Cup 2019. Two countries have been shortlisted for the hosting, Iran and UAE. Both sides have claimed the support of the majority of the voting associations, but AFC has not indicated anything so far to put some light on the selected host nation. However, the news leak indicates that UAE has a lead on Iran and will be announced as the host in unspecified date.

Most of the work by the inspection teams and their reports are already completed.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said a date had not been set for a decision on whether Iran or United Arab Emirates would host the 24-team showpiece event.

“Probably in 2015, by next year we will decide,” the Bahraini royal told reporters in the last AFC gathering in Manila on late November.

Asked if the decision would be made at the AFC’s Congress in January prior to the 16-team Asian Cup, he added: “No. Some time in the middle of the year.”

The UAE are favorites to add yet another sporting event to their resume as hosts, but the Iranian bid claimed to receive support from FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who visited Tehran last year.

Shaikh Salman said he had no preference.

“No we will leave that to the people taking that responsibility. They have to analyze them and bring it to the ex-co so we can decide.”

Hosting the event involves high cost and limits the number of AFC members who can realistically stage it. Australia were the only bidders for the 2015 event and 11 ‘interested’ bids for 2019 quickly became two.

Meanwhile , Australia defeated UAE 2-0 in the second semifinals of the AFC Asian Cup 2015 in Newcastle to set a date with their nemesis South Korea on Saturday for the penultimate match of the competition.

South Korea and Australia have already met in the group stages , with the Koreans narrowly beating the host 1 – 0.

Why Iran’s bid to oust Iraq from Asian Cup failed?

From the evidence and documents that the Iranians provided to the AFC and prior to that to FIFA , much of it was seen by journalists , It seems that there is a genuine doping case with verified positive test results . Al’a AbdulZahra the 27-year-old Iraqi player was tested positive for banned stimulant methylhexaneamine, not only by the Iranian Doping commission, but also verified by a WADA-approved laboratory in Cologne, Germany.

By the time that the Cologne report was back, Al’a AbdulZahra abruptly left Tabriz under mysterious circumstances. His two years contract was cancelled by Tractorsazi. As such , the Iranian authorities and FFIRI , no longer had any jurisdiction on the Iraqi player who popped up in Baghdad ,  playing for the Police Club (Al Shorta).

According to the Iranian officials, the report and doping lab results on AbdulZahra was submitted to FIFA on September 2014 as mandated by the Games ruling body, and they left it at that.

FIFA did promised to  act,  but did not respond, verify or query the Iranian documents any further, according to the Iranian side, until the FFIRI once again contacted FIFA and demanded a response on January 21st , 2015. The trail ends there as no one has seen any official response from FIFA.

There is very little doubt, if any, that AbdulZahra should be suspended according to the rules. However, suspension must be announced after investigations and a verdict from the ruling body , in this case FIFA. Those in corridors of power in FIFA failed to act and for that reason only, the case of Iran against Abdul Zahra was doomed to fail.  The Iraq FA and the coach would not voluntarily suspend a valuable player unless there is a document and a ruling by FIFA or AFC. As long as there is nothing official, there is no case to answer.

AFC on the other hand, cannot overturn the result simply because there is no ruling. However , given all the documents and the doping results verified by approved WADA lab in Germany and still insisting that  Abdul Zahra is clear to play the next match, leaves major questions unanswered about the legitimacy of this issue. We suspect that those in power in AFC know a few things about the law and would not act arbitrarily. AFC has not issued any communique regarding the subject (up to the time of writing this report) and no explanation was provided on reasons for rejection of Iran’s case. There has to be genuine reasons for it , that the  Iranians officials have probably been informed about by AFC but it is not publicized yet.

In any case, these was serious doubt that Iraq would be thrown out from the moment that this issues was raised. We find that if there is a case, it is between FFIRI and FIFA , not with AFC or the AFC Asian Cup organizers.

AFC rejects Iran doping claims.

Sydney (AFP) – Iran‘s protest that Iraq fielded an ineligible player in their stormy Asian Cup quarter-final was shot down following lengthy deliberation by tournament organisers on Sunday.

Iran lodged a formal complaint, claiming that midfielder Alaa Abdulzehra failed a drugs test while playing for an Iranian club last year, but it was rejected by the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) disciplinary committee.

“It’s rejected, they said this player can carry on and play,” Iranian delegation head Houshang Moghaddas told AFP. “Iraq tomorrow can play … tomorrow morning we fly (home),” he added.

An AFC statement released later said that the protest was “unfounded”, without giving further details.

The decision follows several hours of closed-door talks in Sydney with Iraqi and Iranian delegates both giving evidence to the AFC’s disciplinary committee.

It means 2007 champions Iraq, who won Friday’s combustible match on penalties, are free to contest their semi-final against South Korea on Monday.

Iraqi coach Radhi Shenaishil insisted the 11th-hour protest had not distracted his team as they made final preparations for the last-four clash in Sydney.

“The objection has been officially closed and the subject is closed from our side,” he told reporters at Stadium Australia. “We have nothing to add. The (protest) from the Iran team is something they created and hasn’t affected us at all for tomorrow’s match.”

The AFC’s decision also avoids the messy scenario of throwing out Iraq and reinstating Iran, which would probably also have meant rescheduling the semi-final.

Iran’s protest centred on their claim that Adulzehra, now playing for Iraq’s Al Shorta, failed a drugs test while at Iranian club side Tractor Sazi last year.

According to documents seen by AFP, the 27-year-old tested positive for banned stimulant methylhexaneamine, in results that were verified by a WADA-approved laboratory in Cologne.

In an email exchange dated last September, world football body FIFA promised to take action but there is no record of a suspension for Abdulzehra.

Iranian officials raised the matter again with FIFA on January 21, the day after Iraq qualified for a quarter-final with their fierce rivals by finishing second in Group D.

Moghaddas said he was bitterly disappointed by the result of the Iran’s appeal, which confirms the departure of the three-time champions.

“The AFC are supporting players who are doping, who are using drugs and playing,” he said. “I don’t accept this kind of decision. I refuse.”

A spokesman for the Iraqi team was dismissive of the Iranian appeal, which prompted them to change their flights to await the verdict.

“Let them stay here as much as they want,” the Iraqi official told AFP.

Iraq won Friday’s spicy encounter against their neighbours and bitter rivals 7-6 on penalties after Iran were reduced to 10 men and extra time finished with the scores at 3-3.

Recriminations started immediately after the match when Iran coach Carlos Queiroz complained bitterly about the referee’s decision to send off one of his players for simulation.

Iran is taking up a doping allegation against an Iraqi player.

Mehdi Mohammad Nabi is in Sydney on an urgent mission to prove that an Iraqi player has been found doping and should have been ineligible from playing against Iran in the quarter final match on Friday.

Al’a Abdul Zahra , was a Tractrorsazi player in the Iranian league when a routine doping test was found to be positive by the Iranian doping commission. By the time samples were sent to Cologne Germany for further confirmation, the Iraqi player  mysteriously disappeared and was released by his club to join Police Club (AlShorta) in Baghdad. The Iranians did not pursue the matter any further.

Now,  FFIRI is asking the AFC to act on this matter and investigate the charges against the player. Apparently, Mehdi Mohammad Nabi has all the documented evidence to raise the case against the Iraqi player including test results from the laboratory in Cologne Germany.

Abdul-Zahra joined Tractorsazi on 20 July 2014 signing a two-year contract with the club. He played his first match for Tractorsazi on 8th of August 2014 against Zob Ahan. Just after a month with the Tabrizi club, he decided to leave. He was officially released on September 10th, 2014 under dubious circumstances.

Abdul-Zahra played for 65 minutes in the match against Iran before being substituted in the second half.

If the case against Abdul-Zahra is proven, Iran will be declared the winner of the match, however, chances of this happening is quite remote especially since the semifinals will be on Monday. Iran Squad was supposed to leave Sydney en route to Tehran this morning, Saturday.


Iraq’s Al’a Abdul Zahra in Japan match
EXCLUSIVE: The AFC Asian Cup has been rocked by allegations that Iraq fielded an ineligible player in Friday’s dramatic quarter-final win over Iran.
By: Scott McIntyre

24 JAN 2015 – 7:39 PM 
 Sources have told TWG that the Iranian Football Federation has made a formal complaint to FIFA concerning the eligibility of Iraq midfielder Alaa Abdul Zahra.

The complaint stems from an alleged doping violating during the time Abdul Zahra spent last year playing with Iranian club side Tractor Sazi.

An AFC spokesperson confirmed to TWG that it is aware of the case and is awaiting further information from FIFA.

Iraq beat Iran on penalties after a 3-3 draw in Canberra on Friday to earn the right to face Korea Republic in the semi-finals in Sydney on Monday.

It’s understood that the Iranian side has delayed its exit from Australia awaiting a response from the world governing body, which is expected on Saturday evening.

Iran’s National Anti-Doping Agency deputy Ramin Tabatabaei told news agency Tasnim that Abdul Zahra failed a drug test when he was playing in the country.

“I informed Mr Sajjadi (vice-president of Professional and Athletic Sports Development) when we understood Team Melli would play Iraq in the quarter-final,” Tabatabaei said.