Referee claims add to occasion
UAE coach Mahdi Ali has added spice to tonight's Asian Cup quarter-final at Stadium Australia after questioning the impartiality of a Japanese referee from his team's final pool game.
Ali implied Ryuji Sato officiated in favour of Iran in the clash in Brisbane on Monday night, with Reza Ghoochannejhad heading home the winner in the 91st minute.
"I was surprised how the game was given to a Japanese referee, and now we'll play against Japan," Ali said after the match.
"At the end of the game, when the goal was scored, he was (Sato) hesitating, he didn't know what to do.
"The linesman didn't know what to do.
"In our opinion, he (Reza) was offside - he took too much time to say it was a goal."
Rather than worry about the referees, Ali would do better to concentrate on his team's defence against a Japanese side that boasts goalscoring talent such as Keisuke Honda, Shinji
Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki.
Kagawa, now at Borussia Dortmund after a largely-unproductive stint at Manchester United, had not scored for his country since a friendly against Zambia in June, 2014, before getting on the scoresheet alongside Honda in Tuesday's game against Jordan in Melbourne.
At the other end, Ali will rely on one of the most exciting talents to emerge from the tournament, Omar Abdulrahman.
The attacking midfielder has impressed with his range of passing, notching an assist in each of UAE's opening two games in Australia.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU