Asian Cup: Palestine beaten by Iran in emotional Group C opener

By Sports Desk January 14, 2024

Palestine suffered a 4-1 defeat to Iran in their opening game at the Asian Cup on Sunday, with a moment of silence observed before the match to commemorate the victims of the Israel-Hamas war.

As the war reached the 100-day mark, both teams lined up in the centre of the Education City Stadium pitch as an announcement asked for silence "in memory of the lives tragically lost as a result of the ongoing conflict in Palestine".

A hush fell across the stadium in the city of Al-Rayyan before shouts of "free Palestine" were heard from members of the crowd.

Once the game began, three-time champions Iran never looked back after Karim Ansarifard struck within two minutes, with Shoja Khalilzadeh adding a second goal 10 minutes later.

Mehdi Ghayedi made it 3-0 with 38 minutes on the clock, but the loudest cheers came when Palestine's Tamer Seyam pulled a goal back in first-half stoppage time.

Sardar Azmoun scored a fourth for Iran 10 minutes after the break as Amir Ghalenoei's team made a winning start to their Group C campaign.

Elsewhere, Takumi Minamino scored twice as Japan came from behind to beat Vietnam 4-2 in Group D.

The tournament favourites trailed 2-1 in the first half despite Monaco attacker Minamino opening the scoring after 11 minutes.

Nguyen Dinh Bac levelled things up at Al Thumama Stadium five minutes later and Vietnam, ranked 94th in the world by FIFA, went ahead through Pham Tuan Hai's goal in the 33rd minute.

Record four-time Asian Cup winners Japan, who have been heavily tipped to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2011, recovered from that setback as former Liverpool forward Minamino equalised in the 45th minute.

Keito Nakamura then made it 3-2 in first-half stoppage time and substitute Ayase Ueda made the points safe five minutes from full-time.

Finally, Hong Kong's Philip Chan Siu Kwan scored the 1,000th goal in the history of the Asian Cup, but his team still fell to a 3-1 defeat against the United Arab Emirates.

Chan briefly levelled the Group C match four minutes into the second half after Sultan Adil had given UAE the lead from the penalty spot 11 minutes before the break. However, it took just three further minutes for UAE to regain their advantage through Zayed Sultan.

Substitute Yahya Al Ghassani then struck deep into stoppage time to clinch victory against the lowest ranked team at the tournament, with Hong Kong sitting 150th in the FIFA World Rankings.

Related items

  • Guardiola: Foden can still get better after Player of the Year award Guardiola: Foden can still get better after Player of the Year award

    Pep Guardiola thinks Phil Foden can still get better, after the 23-year-old winning the Premier League’s Player of the Year.

    Foden has been a pivotal part of City’s title challenge this season, scoring 17 goals and providing eight assists in the top-flight in 2023-24.

    It is the youngster’s most prolific scoring season for City, while only six players have bettered Foden’s goal haul in the Premier League.

    When asked about the strides that Foden has made this season, leading him to the award, Guardiola praised the England international’s influence on the squad.

    "Obviously, he makes a step forward as a football player. In terms of minutes or time, but he's decisive in winning games," Guardiola said.

    "Maybe before it was a glimpse of action, but now it's consistent. That is the truth, but they still have a margin. Sometimes his game is overexcited, it's over, and you have to be more calm because his excitement he has for himself, but we'll have question of time, but this season has been really, really important. Really, really important."

    Foden has bettered his tally of 11 goals from last season and leads City’s squad for chances created this campaign with 68.

    "He's moving forward, but I had the feeling he can be better, and I think he can do it because I've said many times, that he loves football," Guardiola added.

    "He enjoys being on the pitch, and I think the feeling doesn't like when you have the day off.

    "He likes to be in the training session doing less or more and I had the feeling it still can be better."

    Manchester City can win a fourth-consecutive Premier League title on Sunday against West Ham, if they can match or better Arsenal's result.

  • Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T Objectives met: Shabazz pleased with Golden Jaguars' showing despite losses to T&T

    Despite losing both friendly encounters to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana senior men’s Head coach Jamaal Shabazz says their objectives were met, as the players that made the trip to the twin island republic gained invaluable experience that will assist to shape their future in the sport.

    The Golden Jaguars lost 1-2 and 0-2 to Angus Eve’s Soca Warriors at the Crawford Stadium, in Port of Spain, but for Shabazz, the fixtures served their purpose of gauging the readiness of players, who competed in recently concluded Round One of the KFC Elite League Season, especially with the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers scheduled to get under way next month.

    “We did not win, but a lot of questions were answered as to who is ready to move into our full international squad. We achieved our other objectives. We got higher level match practice for the likes of Daniel Wilson, Kelsey Benjamin, Curtez Kellman, Colin Nelson and Ryan Hackett, all of whom travel with our first team. We gave valuable exposure to players like Marcus Tudor, Simeon Moore, Chris Macey and Stephen McDonald, just to name a few,” Shabazz shared.

    “It is clear that player for player we were able to match our opponents. Some boys gave a good account of themselves, and some were a bit nervous. Most importantly, the lads would have learnt a few lessons for their future, like the margin for error at international level is small and the need for more composure in front of goal,” he added.

    Aside from those he mentioned, Shabazz also had three overseas-based players from Canada, France and the United States, in his 24-member squad, and by all indications, a few more might be assessed, as the tactician prepares to select his final squad for the qualifiers.

    Guyana will contest Group D of the qualifiers, alongside Panama, Montserrat, Belize and Nicaragua. They are set to open against Panama in Panama City on June 6, followed by the Belize encounter on June 11 in Barbados.

    Shabazz expressed gratitude for the continued support in gifting local-based players the opportunity to showcase their potential, and challenge for spots in the final squad.

    “I must thank the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Football Federation for enabling this exposure for the home-based players. At least twice a year we should get these types of matches for home-based players to develop,” Shabazz noted.

  • Guardiola: Other clubs have a chance to win the title against Man City Guardiola: Other clubs have a chance to win the title against Man City

    Pep Guardiola believes that other clubs do have the chance to win the Premier League while he is the Manchester City manager. 

    Guardiola has led the Citizens to five top-flight titles in his seven seasons in charge, including each of the last three in a row.

    They have the opportunity to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League campaign – they must match or better Arsenal’s result on the final day against West Ham to finish top of the table.

    Asked what he thought about the narrative that suggested other teams struggle to win the title while he is at City, Guardiola immediately brushed the idea aside.

    He said: "It is wrong, look at the margin. If every season I won by 20 points, then I would say yes I am a genius, I'm so good, but it's not.

    "The Premier League we won against Liverpool they could have won. Arsenal can win, we can win. It's like that.

    "My judgement about the team, about how we behave, nothing changed, nothing changed. My opinion of Liverpool this year has not changed, whether they have won or not won.

    "I know here there is just a prize for the winners and the winners smell good and everyone won a copy and everything, but it's not.

    "It's not the case because behind of arriving here in the last press conference of the season before the last game of the Premier League there are a lot of work, like Liverpool was and Arsenal have been this season."

    Guardiola was also quick to highlight the hard work of everybody at the club during their title challenge.

    "It's not because of what we have done in the past gives you this season, it's completely the opposite," he continued. 

    "There are a lot of work for all departments. How many my backroom staff, the medical department, the physio department, how they care all the seasons, every single few, few injuries.

    "Injuries are always there, but the balance is ridiculous, how good it is, and that's because there is a lot of work, they care about the players and the people, you know, every single day, hours and hours being above the players, you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this to be fit. So otherwise, we cannot be where we are."

    The City manager was also asked about his future at the club, and whether he would be continuing past the end of the season.

    "Yeah, I have a contract. I want to be here next season, yes," he added. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.