Tag: Al Ain

Hajsafi talks about the childish mistake against Japan.

Twenty days after the shocking loss of Team Melli to Japan, Ehsan Haj Safi is the first player to publicly talk about the match.

Talking specifically about that strange first goal that Iran conceded, the Tractorsazi player said “It was an irresponsible act that I deeply regret when I think about it. It was a child mistake which lead to conceding the first goal. We were growing in confidence by that time and were sure to score against them if it was not for that regrettable goal that broke our heart. That unfortunate scene is still lingering on all the players’ mind. It is still like a nightmare scene to all of us “HajSafi, who was himself one of the guilty players in the scene pleading with the referee, said.

“It was not the fault of any players for seeking an advantage at that moment (…). When we saw the Japanese player play acting to get a foul on the edge of the box and falling to the ground, we went towards the referee, demanding to punish the player and show him a yellow card for un-sportsmanship conduct, without realizing that the referee has waved play on and the other Japanese player collecting the loose ball, took his time and crossed creating a great opportunity for the forward to score the first goal. In any case, it was a collective mistake of all the 5 players for being negligent. We are to be blamed, the 5 players on that part of the field. This was a costly mistake and a valuable experience for all of us, at international and club level which we hope is never repeated again.”

Iran lost 3-0 to Japan in the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, UAE.

Qatar won the title for the first time in its history by defeating Japan 3-1 in tn a memorable match in Abu Dhabi..

After the loss to Japan, the FFIRI terminated the contract of coach Carlos Queiroz.

Al Ain: Ahead of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi-final between two unbeaten giants of Asia, the-AFC.com 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

The corruption that refuses to go away in Asia.

As it stands, football has proven beyond any shadow of doubt that it is one corrupt game full of scrupulous and shoddy characters. From the high echelons of FIFA in Switzerland all the way round the globe to small but strong and influential mafias of match fixing in Asia, the corruption is rife in every sense of the word. And the sport is labeled the “Beautiful Game”.

The latest scandal , hitting the English Football this time, the same football the claims purity and the guardian of ethics and the birthplace of the sport, is the stories of English youth teams coaches sexually abusing under-age players in several clubs. Paedophile coaches being allowed to abuse the children they are entrusted to coach and nourish their talents.

In Asia, a continent that has variety of corruption episodes, this time the big headlines comes from South Korea, arguable the top nation of Asian football.

Few months ago, the scandal began with stories of corrupt refereeing making the headlines. A team that was relegated few years back in to second division by the name of Gyeongnam, was found to be  guilty of bribing referees.  However, the allegations were the kick off for much bigger story and it hit the most popular team in the country. 

Referees admitted that mega club Jeonbuk was also involved in such violation.  Subsequent police investigation revealed that the club bribed referees in at least 5 matches

Korean FA disciplinary committee decided to deduct only 9 points of Jeonbuk’s tally and fine the club 100 million Won (85,000 dollars). In Italy, Juventus was relegated to a lower division for a similar offense.

On the same token the AFC, which claims to be the guardian of ethics and constantly fights match fixing, has recently punished and suspended many players, officials and teams due to their part in match fixing incidents. Recently, U-16 North Korea’s goalkeeper and manager been suspended for a year because of such cases.

The AFC, for reasons only known to themselves,  decided to conveniently ignore the allegations against Jeonbuk and took no actions in this case when it was proven in Korea. Perhaps there are not enough Korean employees in KL AFC’s headquarters who can read and speak Korean!  Or maybe it’s because of the decision date, after the semifinal first leg. But there are reasons to think there is more to it than meets the eyes behind the decision of the governing body of Asian Football.. And as if to highlight how corruption does pay off in football, the Korean team lifted the AFC champions league trophy after piping Al Ain in the two-legged final.

So, we have a crooked team lifting the AFC Champions League, and that surely puts into question AFC’s authenticity and its message of “fight against corruption” of all types. If AFC is genuine, it should have a strong policy against anyone who is proven to have committed or was involved in a corrupt deal, else the whole process will be looked upon as flawed, biased, politically motivated and depends highly on who is the culprit. Not exactly a fair game at all, AFC !

You might think the Iranians are paranoid when it comes to accusations of bias against them in the AFC corridor of power, but the reality and the events proves their point. The latest AFC bias is expected soon when it, the AFC , headed by an Arab President who hardly clocks any hours in the office in Kuala Lumpur, will once again side with the brethren  Saudi Arabs and force Iranian teams to host Saudi clubs outside of Iran in the AFC champions league. The excuse, the safety concern , the real reason though is purely politics.