Category: AFC Asian Cup 2019

AFC rejects UAE protest on Qatar players.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have rejected a protest against the eligibility of two Qatar players in the country’s Asian Cup squad.

The UAE Football Association had formally protested after Tuesday’s semi-final loss to Qatar that Almoez Ali, a 22-year-old striker born in Sudan, and Bassam Al Rawi, a 21-year-old defender born in Baghdad, did not qualify to play for their opponents on residency grounds because they have not lived continuously in the Gulf state for at least five years over the age of 18.

The AFC said in a statement on Friday: “The Asian Football Confederation Disciplinary and Ethics Committee on Friday dismissed the protest lodged by the United Arab Emirates Football Association over the eligibility of two Qatar players.”

Qatar take on Japan in the final of the competition at 6pm on Friday at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.

Sour grapes: UAE files a protest against Qatar Team players eligibility.

The UAE Football Federation officially challenged the eligibility of some Qatari players who appeared for the Qatar National Football team in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 hosted by UAE.

The written protest was given to AFC within the permitted time after the semi-final of the Asian Cup. The complaint  is yet another layer to Qatar’s politically-charged progress to the finals in the UAE, which as a country is part of a quartet boycotting Doha socially, economically,  and politically.

The UAE Federation has attached the required documents to confirm the validity of the appeal before 48 hours of the match finishing time, which was held on Tuesday.

According to Emarati media, the UAE football federation prepared a file containing official documents proving act of fraud by Qatar in the naturalization of several players, specifically Iraqi Bassam Al-Rawi and Sudanese AlMoez Ali.

Qatar comprehensively defeated host UAE  4-0 in the semi-finals amid shameful scenes from the hostile and abusive local fans which started from booing the national anthem of Qatar, to throwing objects at Qatar players and chanting abusive politically driven chants in the stands.

The official campaign of ill treatment of Qatar began before any ball was kicked in the tournament starting with denying access to 5 Qatari journalist and then Saoud al-Mohannadi , the Qatari official and senior Asian Cup tournament organizer was denied entry 24 hours earlier, amid a simmering diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

Saoud al-Mohannadi, is vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Qatar Football Association, he is also standing for the upcoming election of AFC presidency against the current president Salman bin Khalifa.

While the Asian Cup was being played, there was hardly any day without UAE media news and editorials attacking Qatar in an orchestrated move by the authorities to undermine the gas-rich Persian Gulf State and disturb the team’s concentration. The effect of political conflict cum animosity was clearly felt in the Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium among the local fans.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are the four countries that have broken diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed all their skies, ports and land access to Qatari vehicles, goods and people. There was no Qatari fans in any of the Qatar matches, however small pockets of Omani fans shown their support for Qatar during this tournament. There was no Qatari press or photographers in the UAE.

Qatar thrash UAE amid ugly scenes to reach final

Qatar punished unwelcoming hosts United Arab Emirates 4-0 in a politically charged clash marred by disgraceful crowd behavior on Tuesday to reach their first Asian Cup final.

The Qataris, whose national anthem was drowned by boos before the game, face Japan in Friday’s final after goals from Boualem Khoukhi, Almoez Ali, Hasan Al-Haydos and Hamid Ismaeil sealed victory for the 2022 World Cup hosts amid ugly scenes in Abu Dhabi.

As they celebrated victory and a record sixth clean sheet at a single Asian Cup, shoes were thrown at them and plastic bottles rained down from angry local fans — as they had for every Qatar goal, midfielder Salem Al-Hajri hit on the head after their third.

A clash bristling with simmering regional tension over the long-standing Gulf blockade of Qatar quickly burst into life as a meaty tackle from Bandar Al-Ahbabi on Akram Afif put the Qatari midfielder up in the air.

But Qatar drew first blood after 21 minutes when Khoukhi’s shot squirted under UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa, to the horror of a hostile crowd of 38,000.

Afif was then targeted by bottle-throwing Emirati fans as he tried to take a corner, appealing desperately to the referee as he stepped away from the kick.

Qatar exacted swift retribution eight minutes before the break, Ali smashing home a right-footed shot from the edge of the box to equal Ali Daei’s 1996 record of eight goals in a single Asian Cup.

As the Sudan-born striker celebrated with his team mates, more bottles and shoes were flung at the players as the atmosphere began to turn sinister.

A half-time entertainer sang “Let’s bring Asia together” but there was little harmony as the crowd — boosted by mass giveaways exclusively to locals — continued to hurl abuse at the Qataris. Many political chants in Arabic were heard from the UAE fans on opposite side of the grandstand.

Qatar never looked seriously threatened and captain Al-Haydos coolly chipped in a third to spark more fury from the UAE fans, Al-Hajri knocked to the ground as more missiles streamed onto the pitch.

Defender Ismail Ahmed was then shown a red card in stoppage time for an elbow on Al-Hajri before Ismaeil added a fourth to compound UAE’s misery. At the end of the game, Ismael al Hammadi who was substituted out ran towards the Qatari players with the intent to attack and possible inflict bodily harm. It took several of his teammates to retrain him.

The disgraceful acts of the UAE fans has marred the reputation of the host and the effort of the Local Organizing committee. Despite hundreds of security personnel who cordoned the pitch, bottles , shoes and anything the fans could throw , reached the pitch. No fan was seen arrested and no attempt by the security to apprehend the culprits was recorded.

The Politically charged match, fueled by local media and bad blood between the politicians of the two countries , did not seem to affect the players, who were admittedly more focused on winning the match,  however the fans were something entirely different and the FAC has one bif decesion to make against this type of behaviur.

Disconsolate Ashkan Dejagah

Al Ain:

Veteran Iran midfielder Ashkan Dejagah cut a disconsolate figure after his side were eliminated from AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 at the semi-final stage by a 3-0 defeat to Japan on Monday.
Appearing in the final four for the first time in 15 years, Team Melli held their own in a competitive first-half, but never recovered from the concession of Yuya Osako’s opening goal, with Japan taking full control and ultimately cruising into Friday’s final.

It was a forgettable conclusion to an Iranian campaign which had promised so much, but ended, once again, in knockout stage disappointment.

“I believe it was a good tournament for the players and, for the young players, it’s been a good experience,” said former Bundesliga and Premier League star Dejagah.

“We performed well until this game. Even in this game, before we conceded, the team was performing well.

“Obviously, Japan are a good team. They put pressure on us, they wanted to go to the final as well, but if we had a little luck, if Sardar (Azmoun’s) opportunity was converted into a goal in the first half, maybe the outcome of the game would have changed.

“But this is football, unfortunately we couldn’t do it today.

“While Carlos Queiroz’s side had a number of potent attacking weapons on the pitch at Hazza bin Zayed’s Stadium, they missed the creativity of suspended forward Mehdi Taremi, and Dejagah conceded the Al Gharafa forward’s absence had made life difficult.

“Well, we have good players. I believe the whole team can play well,” said the Iranian skipper.

“However, obviously Taremi’s absence affected us. He really helped us out in the last couple of games.”

With four wins, no defeats and five clean sheets in their opening five matches, Iran were one of the AFC Asian Cup’s form teams, leading many of the fans to dream of an end to their 43-year Asian title drought.

But, with those dreams unfulfilled, Dejagah, who will be 36 when the next AFC Asian Cup is held in 2023, said the result would take time to get over.

“We win together and we lose together. Unfortunately, today we couldn’t [win]. Nevertheless, thanks to the team for trying,” he offered.

“It’s hard to talk right now. I have nothing to say. Some time must pass, it’s hard.”

Queiroz calls time on Iran adventure

Al Ain:

Carlos Queiroz signalled his intention to stand down from his role as head coach of Islamic Republic of Iran on Monday after his side were knocked out of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 by Japan.

Yuya Osako’s double and a late strike from Genki Haraguchi mean Iran’s AFC Asian Cup-winning drought will extend for another four years after a 3-0 loss at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium took the four-time winners into Friday’s final at Team Melli’s expense.

Queiroz has been at the helm of the Iran national team for eight years, but he suggested he will no longer continue a reign which has seen him lead the country to back-to-back appearances at the FIFA World Cup.

The most important thing for me today is to say I am so proud and this venture, this journey, of the Iranian players has been fantastic,” said Queiroz.

“They deserve to be in the final to be honest, but I think the most simple thing is to say, copying the famous song” ‘And now the end is here.’ And I’m very happy and very proud because I did it my way and it’s time to show my gratitude to the Iranian fans having coached these players and this team for eight years.

“I wish all of them the best of success that they deserve.”

Iran were making their first appearance in the AFC Asian Cup semi-finals since 2004 and shaded a competitive first half, but the game turned in the 56th minute when their defence switched off following a clash between Morteza Pouraliganji and Takumi Minamino.

While the Iranians protested to referee Christopher Beath, Minamino played on and delivered the cross from which Osako opened the scoring.

The Werder Bremen striker then doubled the lead from the penalty spot before Haraguchi put the result beyond any doubt in injury time with an emphatic strike as the Japanese advanced to a fifth AFC Asian Cup final since 1992.

“That moment created an emotional breakdown in my team and after that there was only one team on the pitch and that was Japan,” said Queiroz of the opening goal. “Just to say the best team won, the best team deserve to be in the final and congratulations to Japan.

“But special congratulations and a huge, huge, huge thank you to my players for everything they gave playing all these years, taking into consideration the difficulties, the adversity, the limits and the conditions they have. They are going to be in my heart for the rest of my life.”

FFIRI announcement

The Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) has issued a communique after the elimination of Team Melli from the AFC Asian Cup 2019 praising the performance of Team Melli players and the coaching teams on its achievement in the FIFA World Cup 2018 and the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

The communique also appreciated the efforts of all government organs and ministries for its support for Team Melli during the competitions thanking them for their gestures and backing.

In the last part , it also wished Carlos Queiroz all the best in his future career.

Both FFIRI and Carlos Queiroz have talked about extension of his contract in case Iran won the AFC Asian Cup title, however, that did not materialize and it seems that Queiroz is on his way to Colombia.

Total Queirozian Collapse !

Al Ain, UAE reports

After what looked like a close and competitive match in the first half between Japan and Iran , the second half saw a total collapse of Team Melli resulting in the heaviest defeat in official matches that Team Melli has suffered in 26 years. The 3-0 loss to Japan today was only equalled by the same result against South Korea in the World Cup 1994 qualifiers in Doha when the Team Melli collapsed under the coaching of Ali Parvin.

Team Melli was soundly beaten by a better team in all departments, but there is no escape finding the biggest culprit in this defeat and that is one Carlos Queiroz. The Portuguese coach simply ran out of ideas in the second half. Instead of the neat football that we have enjoyed in the last few games especially against China in the last round, Queiroz resorted to route one football. Direct balls from defense to the attack.

Sending Hail Mary footballs in the hope that Sardar Azmoun could out-muscle the Japanese defenders by nicking the ball and heading for goal. It simply did not work today. Azmoun was closely marked, not by one but sometimes two defenders. He was obviously closely studied by Japan and they have cleverly neutralized him. Yet, Queiroz insisted on doing the same again and again!

Karim Ansarifard who was introduced on the hours to supplement Azmoun, was not even in the game most of the time,

There was hardly any balls fed from the half backs Milad Mohammadi and Ramin Rezaeian. No crosses, no runs that could be counted as productive. The latter had a miserable day defending too. Alireza Jahanbakhsh was not really anywhere near his best and Vahid Amiri was a poor imitation of what we have seen of him.

That meant that Askhan Dejagajh had to burden the heaviest of loads, Ashkan did not disappointed, but a football match in this level cannot be won single-handedly by one player. It is a teamwork that Iran did not execute and plans collapsed.

Team Melli faced a real stiff opposition in the Japan players who are tactically accomplished, mentally superior and physically as strong as any team in Asian. While emotions and hypertension was evident in Team Melli players after the penalty, the Japanese played professionally and calmly.

And in their young coach Hajime Moriyasu, Queiroz found a real competitor. The recently appointed Japan coach  out foxed and outmaneuvered his much more illustrious and experienced counterpart Carlos Queiroz. The man has done his homework on Iran perfectly while Queiroz and his Captain Shojaei always insisted during press conferences that Team Melli will always plays the same regardless to the competition. “We will always play the way we play”!!!

Japan has certainly taught Iran a lesson that needs to be reviewed comprehensively if Team Melli has aspirations to progress.

It was a sad end for a team that has showed so much promise to collapse in such a manner. Despite the very obvious shortfalls of Carlos Queiroz in this match and his inability to match the tactics of the Japanese, it is prudent to learn from the good legacy of Queiroz and build upon it.  What Team Melli does not need after Queiroz’s departure is to go a few step backward and opt for a local option to coach the team because of financial difficulties. What Iran requires for Team Melli is another Queiroz class coach

AFC Asian Cup 2019 semi final Iran v. Japan first Half

Al Ain reports

The first half of the match between Iran and Japan played in Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in the semi finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 ended goal-less.

In front of near capacity stadium mostly consisting to Team Melli fans , the match started in a competitive and tense manner. Both teams started cautiously with each  aware of the threats the other team can create. Japan had the upper hand in the first 20 minutes by limiting the threats of Iran from the midfield. They succeeded to do so by populating the midfield and breaking the supply line from Dejagah mainly and from Jahanbaksh and Amiri. In the process the Japanese also created some pressure of their own on Iran back line but without any real threat.

After the 20 mints mark, the scenario changed with Iran having more of the ball and managing to get feed Azmoun who created the best chance of the match on 21st minute. From the left, Azmoun dribbled passed two of his markers inside the six yard box about his final shoot was blocked by the keeper and defender for a corner.

TM continued to excert pressure on Japanese and were the better side but not serious enough to dislodge the tough defense of Japan.

Vahid Amiri committed a clumsy foul to receive a yellow card in 25th minute. This is his 3rd card of the tournament. Amiri obviously requires a proper professional training  in tackling.

Unlike previous matches, the feeding and crosses from the flanks were scarce which forced Team Melli to route one football by utilizing long balls to Azmoun who was a constant threat to the Japan defense.

Iran players were committing needless fouls at times , Ebrahimi got a yellow card late in the half.

Half Time

IRAN  0  – 0  JAPAN

Al Ain: Ahead of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi-final between two unbeaten giants of Asia, looks at the key facts and history surrounding the eagerly-anticipated clash.

No Taremi for Team Melli

The major team news ahead of the semi-final is the enforced absence of Mehdi Taremi, who will miss Monday’s clash through suspension having collected a second yellow card against China PR.

While card trouble has cost them the Al Gharafa star, who has scored three goals in UAE 2019, the Iranians will welcome back Vahid Amiri, while Yoshinuri Muto returns from suspension for Japan.

Outstanding yellow cards were erased following the quarter-finals, meaning only a red card in Monday’s match will result in a player missing the final.

Carlos Queiroz’s Iran have become one of only three teams in history to go through their first five games at an AFC Asian Cup without conceding a goal, but the amazing record of goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand goes back even further.

The Persepolis shot-stopper has represented his country in 20 competitive matches (including UAE 2019 and FIFA World Cup qualifiers and finals) and conceded only four goals, keeping a remarkable 17 clean sheets, with only Portugal, Spain and Syria finding a way past him.

Japan have claimed a piece of statistical history of their own in the UAE. Hajime Moriyasu’s side are the first ever to win five successive matches by a single-goal winning margin.

Asian powerhouses, divergent histories

The two sides are both Asian football powerhouses, having qualified for the past two FIFA World Cups – and in Japan’s case, every edition since 1998 – but the East Asians have had far more recent success on the continental stage.

While Iran are enjoying the excitement of being 90 minutes away from reaching the AFC Asian Cup final for the first time since 1976, Japan have been champions in four of the last seven editions, and three of the current squad were part of the victorious 2011 team.

Japan have only ever lost once at this stage of the competition, a 3-2 defeat to Saudi Arabia in 2007, which was also the last time the Samurai Blue lost any AFC Asian Cup match outside of penalty shootouts.

Despite making their first appearance in the last four since 2004, Iran have not a lost a single AFC Asian Cup match inside 90 minutes this century, with three of their previous eliminations coming from the penalty spot, and the other twp – both defeats to Korea Republic – suffered in extra time.

Unfamiliar foes

Despite their permanent presence in the latter stages of both the AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup qualifying, Japan and Iran have consistently managed to avoid each other in competition draws.

It has been over a decade since their last competitive fixture, a 2-1 Samurai Blue win in 2005, while their last AFC Asian Cup clash came back in 2004 when the two sides shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw in Group D.




H / A / N Matches W D L Goals + / –
H 3 1 2 0 5 – 4 1
A 3 0 1 2 2 – 4 -2
N 11 5 3 3 12 – 10 2
Total 17 6 6 5 19 – 18 1



Date Competition H / A / N score Stadium Attendance
13.10.2015 Friendly H 1 – 1 Azadi Stadium , Tehran 15,000
17.08.2005 World Cup Qualifier A 1 – 2 Nissan Stadium , Yokohama 65,000
25.03.2005 World Cup Qualifier H 2 – 1 Azadi Stadium, Tehran 120,000
28.07.2004 Asian Cup N 0 – 0 Olympics Sport Centre , Chongqing 52,000
11.08.1999 Friendly A 1 – 1 International Stadium, Yokohama 35,860
16.11.1997 World Cup Qualifier N 2 – 3 Larkin Stadium-Johor Bahru 22,000
18.10.1993 World Cup Qualifier N 2 – 1 Al Khalifa Stadium , Doha 15,000
03.11.1992 Asian Cup A 0 – 1 Big Arch Stadium , Hiroshima 37,000
01.10.1990 Asian Games N 1 – 0 Fengtai Sports Center-Beijing 10,000
20.01.1989 Friendly H 2- 2 Azadi Stadium, Tehran 50,000
04.12.1988 Asian Cup N 0 – 0 Qatar FC Stadium , Doha 4,000
22.09.1986 Asian Games N 2 – 0 Hanbat Stadium, Daejeon 30,000
20.11.1982 Asian Games N 0 – 1 Modeltown Stadium-New Delhi 10,000
18.12.1966 Asian Games N 1 – 0 Tarua Football Stadium-Bangkok 20,000
11.12.1966 Asian Games N 1 – 3 Chulalongkon University Stadium-Bangkok 10,000
08.03.1951 Asian Games N 3 -2 Ambedkar Stadium -New Delhi 30,000
07.03.1951 Asian Games N 0 – 0 Ambedkar Stadium – New Delhi 23,000

Iran- Japan match is sold out.

As expected, the semi final of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 between Iran and Japan is a sold out.

The match on Monday in Al Ain will be played in the new Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium which has a capacity of 25,000 seats. It is expected that the majority of the fans will be Iranians living in UAE and quite a few who will be coming from Iran for the match. The last match that was a sell out involved Team Melli in the match in Dubai’s Al Maktoum stadium vs. Iraq. Tickets were sold in black market for that match.

The second semi final will be played in the main Zayed Sport City stadium which twice as big as the one in Al Ain.