United Arab Emirates coach Mahdi Ali has risked a hefty fine from the Asian Football Confederation after lashing out at Japanese referee Ryuji Sato in the wake of his side’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Iran.
The UAE dominated possession against Iran before being stung in the first minute of injury time when substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad buried a header to steal a stunning victory.
Ali ruffled plenty of feathers in his post-match press conference, insisting Reza was offside and then suggesting Sato, the man in charge, had a conflict of interest, with the winner of the match avoiding a quarter-final meeting with Japan.
He also said Sato and his linesmen had little idea what to do after the goal was scored and was bluffed into awarding the score after Iran began celebrations.
The result now means that Iran, a higher ranked side, avoids Japan, who need a point against Jordan to take on the UAE in the knockout stages later this week at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
After inititally saying he wasn’t going to offer any comment on the officiating, Ali then went on to suggest the appointment of the officials were compromised and Sato had given defender Walid Abbas a second yellow card knowing he would be suspended for a potential Japan match.
“I’m just surprised how the game was given to a Japanese referee and maybe we play against Japan. He gave a yellow card to a player that will be suspended for the next game. It’s very strange. I think this question has to be transferred to the AFC to comment on this,” Ali said.
Ali suggested there was also an issue with the appointment of Australian referee Ben Williams for Uzbekistan’s match against Saudi Arabia.
The Uzbeks were at that point potential quarter-final opponents of the Socceroos. Williams dished out seven yellow cards.
Iranian coach Carlos Quieroz wouldn’t be drawn into the matter, having already copped a $3000 fine for comments earlier in the tournament about the performance of Williams in Iran’s 2-0 win over Bahrain.
“I have no comment about that. I don’t want to make anymore donations. The game was very competitive. As I said, no more donations,” he said.
Quieroz was far more effusive when asked about the effort of his side, which had far less ball and only three shots on target all night. The UAE stats sheet recorded just the one shot on target despite almost 70 per cent of possession.
“It was a good win against, in my opinion, at least the best team in west Asia. They play like a club team. My players played with a lot of concentration, a fantastic attitude,” he said.
“They sacrificed for the team at the end. It was a great football game, very emotional and skillful. Both teams deserve congratulations.”