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Football supplement, 15-22/10/00


*  Lebanon hold Iraq to a draw
*  Gulf war revisited [comment prior to the Iran-Iraq match]
*  Iran beats Iraq for first time since 1976
*  [Programme for next week]


BEIRUT, October 17, 2000 : Hosts Lebanon were hit by two early goals from
Sabah Khalaf but rallied to snatch a 2-2 draw against Iraq in an Asian Cup
first round match on Sunday.

In the day's other match in Group A, striker Ali Daei spared Iran's blushes
with a second half equaliser as they drew 1-1 with Thailand.

The results leave Iran top of Group A on goal difference from Iraq. They
have four points each while Thailand (one point) are third also on goal
difference from Lebanon.

Khalaf scored the first goal for Iraq after four minutes, diving behind the
Lebanese defence to head home.

He doubled his tally 18 minutes later, rising unchallanged to head in a
cross from the right by Qahtan Drain.

Abbas Chahrour pulled one back for Lebanon in the 28th minute with arguably
the goal of the competition so far.

The midfielder rifled a screaming shot into the top right-hand corner of the
Iraqi goal from 25 yards, leaving keeper Hisham Hasan motionless.

Attacking midfielder Moussa Hjeij equalised in the 77th minute from a free
kick from 20 yards. It was a deserved equaliser for Lebanon, who made five
changes from the team that lost 4-0 to Iran on the first day of the

The Lebanese out-fought the Iraqis in the second half and they could have
won it but Brazilian-born striker Newton de Oliveira headed over the bar in
front of an empty net.
Iran's Daei, who plays for Hertha Berlin, headed in Karim Bagheri's cross
from the right in the 73rd minute to save one of the competition's
favourites from a shock defeat.

Thailand took Iran by surprise when Sakesan Pituratana turned home a shot
after the Iranian keeper had pushed out a drive from Sutee Suksomkit in the
12th minute.

But after a lacklustre performance in the first half, the Iranians picked up
the pace in the second and piled on the pressure.

Daei had a shot cleared off the line by a Thai defender in the 57th minute
but there was no mistake 16 minutes later from the Iranian striker's header.

The top two teams in the three groups automatically qualify for the
quarter-finals with the best two teams in third place joining them.

Saudi Arabia sacked Czech coach Milan Macala on Sunday, a day after the
holders crashed to a 1-4 defeat to Japan in their opening game of the Asian

Prince Sultan, head of the Saudi FA, appointed the Czech's assistant, Nasser
al-Jawhar, as coach for the rest of the competition.

Saturday's defeat have left the Saudis with a lot of work to to do to
qualify for the quarter finals. Saudi Arabia play Qatar on Oct 17 and
Uzbekistan three days later to complete their first-round Group C matches.

Yesterday, China are scheduled to play Indonesia and South Korea face Kuwait
in Group B.--Reuters

Daily Star (Bangla Desh, I think)

BEIRUT, Oct 17: Iran coach Jalal Talebi has dismissed hype surrounding his
side's scrap with Iraq, insisting the Iranians harboured no grudges ahead of
Wednesday's crucial Asian Cup Group A showdown, reports AFP.

Talebi, who coached Iran in the 'Mother of all football matches' against the
United States at the 1998 World Cup, said Iran and Iraq's bitter political
rivalry would not spill over on to the playing field.

"It has been more than ten years since our countries were at war, and we
have played three times since then," Talebi said, referring to the bloody
1980-88 conflict which left more than one million dead.

"There has never been a problem when we have played in the past and I don't
think there will be one now.

"Neither myself nor my players have any hard feelings towards Iraq and their
coach, and I'm sure they dont have any hard feelings towards us.

"Football is sport, and I'm only concerned about what happens inside the
field of play. Politics is outside the field of play," Talebi added.

However, even with politics out of the equation, Wednesday's encounter at
the Saida Stadium promises to be a robust battle between two physical teams.

Both Iran and Iraq are level on four points at the top of their group, and
should go through to the quarter-finals as the top two finishers.

But both sides will be keen to win the group outright to avoid the
likelihood of having to face the winners of Group C - in all probability an
in-form Japan - in the quarterfinals.

With a goal difference of plus four thanks to their 4-0 drubbing of Lebanon
last week, Iran need only a draw to be sure of topping the pool.

Iran will also want to avenge their 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Iraqis in
the last Asian Cup.

Talebi has spent the week firing up Iran after their dismal showing in a 1-1
draw against Thailand, when their assembled collection of European-based
stars looked several notches below their best.

Iraq have also spent the week kicking themselves after they let a 2-0 lead
slip against Lebanon on Sunday to allow the hosts to snatch a draw,
betraying their lack of match practice and exposure caused by international

The Iraqis have frequently cited the impact of UN sanctions on their
football preparations in the build-up to the tournament.

"The players in Iraq don't have any international exposure," said squad
member Laith Hussein. "We can't play anywhere. How can we learn? How are we
going to play against the other 11 teams here? We can't see them."

In Wednesday's other match Thailand will take on Lebanon with both teams
needing to win to have any chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals as
one of the two best third-placed teams.


SIDON, Lebanon (AP, 18th October) -- Iran advanced to the quarterfinals of
the Asian Cup with a prestige 1-0 victory Wednesday over arch-rival Iraq on
striker Ali Daei's third goal of the tournament. Iraq also reached the last
eight despite the defeat.

The Hertha Berlin forward netted off a rebound in the 77th minute to give
Iran seven points from three matches and first place in Group A.

Iraq finished second with four points.

It was Iran's first victory over Iraq since the 1976 Asian Cup.

The two top sides from each of the four-team groups advance in the 12-nation
tournament, along with two best third-place finishers.

In the other Group A match, Lebanon and Thailand drew 1-1. Both teams
finished with two points but Thailand took third place on goal difference.
But the two points are unlikely to be enough for Thailand to advance.

Although a draw would have put both teams into the quarterfinals, Iran began
the match with a clear intention to win, pressing the Iraqis into their half
of the field from the opening whistle.

Still the Iranians were not able to produce a clear scoring opportunity
until the 17th minute, when Daei rose at the far post to send a header that
bounced off the ground over the crossbar.

Three minutes later, Karim Bagheri broke through down the middle and fired a
left-footed shot from the edge of the area that went just over the bar.

Iraq replied in the 32nd, when Qahtar Chatir sent a good cross from the left
to the far post, where his partner on the forward line, Sabah Jadir,
connected with a diving header. Iranian goalkeeper Parviz Boroumand got his
hands on the ball, could not hold onto it, but it bounced off the post back
into his arms.

The pace eased off significantly after the interval, with Iran apparently
happy to settle for a draw. But a long-range shot by midfielder Hamed
Kavianpour nearly took the Iraqi goalkeeper Amer Abdul-Wahab by surprise in
the 68th minute. Abdul-Wahab had to stretch to full length to turn the ball
around the post.

The Iranian complacency was only a smoke screen, however. In the 77th,
Bagheri, who plays for Charlton Athletic in England's Premier League, broke
through the Iraqi defense with a solo run, bypassing three defenders. His
right-foot shot was deflected by Abdul-Wahab and Daei pounced on the rebound
to score the winner.

Iran won the Asian Cup three times in a row between 1968 and 1976 and could
become the first nation to win the title four times.


Iran:  Parviz Boroumand; Sohrab Bakhtiarizadeh, Mohammadreza Mahdavi,
Mehrdad Minavand, Karim Bagheri, Hamed Kavianpour, Satar Hamedani, Alireza
Emamifar (Mohammad Navazi, 45), Daryoush Yazdani (Ali Karimi, 69), Khodadad
Azizi (Mehdi Mahdavikia, 81), Ali Daei.

Iraq:  Amer Abdul-Wahab; Abdul-Jabar Hashim, Hamza Hadi (Essam Hamed, 54),
Haydar Obeid, Haidar Mahmood, Adnan Mohammed (Abbas Rahim, 79), Abbas Obeid
Jassim, Ahmad Kadhum, Abdul-Wahab Abouheil, Qahtan Chatir, Sabah Jadir
(Ahmad Hussein, 55).


[Details of matches, then ... ]

The quarter-finals next week pit China against Qatar, Iran against South
Korea, Japan against Iraq and Saudi Arabia against Kuwait.
Asian Cup quarter-finals draw
Oct 23: Iran vs South Korea; China vs Qatar.
Oct 24: Japan vs Iraq; Kuwait vs Saudi Arabia.

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