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21 February 2024

Iran claims Iraq fielded ineligible player in stormy Asia Cup quarter final

Sardar Azmoun (L) of Iran speaks with Ahmed Ibrahim (R) of Iraq during the Asian Cup quarter-final football match between Iraq and Iran in Canberra on January 23, 2015. (AFP)


Asian Cup officials scrambled on Sunday to deal with a sensational protest from Iran claiming that Iraq fielded an ineligible player during their stormy quarter-final defeat.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) disciplinary committee was set to consider the complaint against Alaa Abdulzehra, who is alleged to have committed a doping violation last year.

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.

An AFC official did not confirm whether the disciplinary committee could annul the match or reverse the result in Iran's favour -- an outcome which would put them into the semi-finals.

Midfielder Abdulzehra, 27, is alleged to have committed the doping violation while playing for Iranian club Tractor Sazi, according to Australian broadcaster SBS.

Team officials from Iran and Iraq were not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz already complained bitterly about Australian referee Ben Williams after he sent off defender Mehrdad Pooladi for simulation in the first half.

Iraq were preparing for a semi-final against South Korea on Monday as the war-torn nation seeks its second Asian Cup title in eight years.