Biggest-ever AFC Asian Cup opens with spectacular showpiece #Farewell2019


Abu Dhabi: The AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 kicked off in style today with a grand opening ceremony at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.

Against the backdrop of a packed stadium and hundreds of millions around the world, football fans were treated to a breathtaking live show with a series of on-pitch music performances in a fitting tribute to the excellence of Asian football and the vibrant spirit, colour and atmosphere of the host nation.

Internationally renowned singing sensations from the UAE, Hussain Al Jassmi, Balqees Ahmed Fathi and Eida Al Menhali were the ceremony’s main stars, which set the perfect stage for the tournament’s opener between the hosts UAE and Bahrain.

Titled “Zanaha Zayed,” the opening ceremony’s theme song was written by Arif Al Khaja and composed by Khalid Nasser.

As many as 600 expert performers from the UAE and around the world participated in the live extravaganza including drummers, Ayalla dancers and origami falcons – all of whom created a series of mesmerising mass choreography formations for over 13 magical minutes.

Leading to the highly-anticipated kick-off, the show depicted the story of the tournament’s mascot, Mansour, an Emirati boy inspired by the beauty of the flight of falcons. Moved by their gracious movements, Mansour extended a warm Emirati welcome to Asia and the rest of the world.

Produced by those behind the successful opening ceremonies of the UEFA Champions League finals since 2014, the UEFA European Championships 2016 and several CAF African Cup of Nations, the opening ceremony also featured incredible giant falcons, over-sized lotus petals and a huge replica of the new AFC Asian Cup trophy.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation Website

Iran says reserves right to counter Israeli presence in US-led Persian Gulf coalition

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Iran says reserves right to counter Israeli presence in US-led Persian Gulf coalition

Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Friday that possible Israeli presence in a US-led coalition in the Persian Gulf is a clear threat against Iran’s national security, stressing that Tehran reserves the right to counter the move.

The Iranian official said, “Within the framework of the country’s deterrence and defensive policy, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to counter this threat and defend its territory,” according to Foreign Ministry’s official website.

His remarks came after Israeli media reported that Tel Aviv will join what the US claims an effort to boost security of navigation in the Persian Gulf.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Wednesday that the Israeli regime is part of the US-led coalition to “protect the security of the Persian Gulf,” Ynet reported.

The presence is a crisis-provoking and destabilizing element in the Persian Gulf, Mousavi said, adding, “The US regime and the illegitimate Zionist regime are responsible for all the consequences of this dangerous move.”


Tension-provoking move


Referring to US efforts to form a coalition against Iran in the Persian Gulf, Mousavi said the Islamic Republic believes the coalition is tension-provoking in nature.

“Iran believes the presence of ultra-regional forces in the Persian Gulf under any name and title will not only fail to help reinforce the region’s security, but will further prepare the ground for tension and crisis in the sensitive Persian Gulf region,” he added.

He said Iran is opposed to the formation of such coalitions and considers it as a tension-creating and deceitful move.

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami also in separate phone conversations with his Kuwaiti, Qatari, and Omani counterparts said that the coalition will foment insecurity in the region.

Hatami said that regional security could only be provided by regional countries, noting that foreign presence here would have insecurity and instability as its only concomitants.


US failure


The US has so far failed to convince its allies to join the coalition amid its attempts to trouble Iran’s foreign oil sales as part of its sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently said that Washington had failed to set up a unified maritime mission in the Persian Gulf because it’s “alone in the world” and “countries that are its friends are too ashamed of being in a coalition” with the US.

On June 30, the US officially asked Germany to participate – alongside Britain and France – in the coalition, a request that was declined by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas a day later. The UK, however, later accepted to join the coalition.

“At the moment, the Britons would rather join an American mission. We won’t do it”, Maas said earlier this week, after previously stressing that “there can be no military solution” to the standoff in the region.

Germany is, however, not Washington’s only European ally to have been unwilling to be part of its naval force. France has also been reluctant to join the mission.

In Asia, Japan has also refused to join the coalition.

Japan’s government sources said on Thursday that Tokyo may send vessels to patrol off Yemen rather than joining the US-led coalition, according to

The administration of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is reluctant to send the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Strait of Hormuz, a key sea lane through which around a fifth of the world’s oil passes, out of concern that doing so could hurt Tokyo’s friendly ties with Tehran.

But it is under mounting pressure from Washington to participate in the US effort with Pentagon chief Mark Esper earlier this week urging Japan to “strongly consider” it, the Japanese media said.

Despite the US efforts against Iran, one of the Washington’s closest allies in the Persian Gulf region is also trying to restore ties with Iran.

Recently, a delegation from the United Arab Emirates visited Tehran and signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance maritime border security cooperation.

Tensions have been running high between the US and Iran since Washington’s decision in May last year to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing it to renegotiate a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence as well.

Tensions between the two nations deteriorated after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone on June 20 following its violation of Iranian airspace.

Several oil tankers were also targeted near the Persian Gulf last month, with Washington and its ally Saudi Arabia quickly blaming Iran for the suspicious attacks.

Tehran has rejected the accusations of its involvement as baseless, saying the incidents in the Sea of Oman appear to be false flags meant to frame the Islamic Republic.

The United States has engaged in significant regional military buildup, including by sending an aircraft carrier, a bomber task force, an assault ship, and around 1,500 additional forces to the Middle East.

Tehran has time and again said that it does not seek military confrontations with the United States, yet stands ready to defend its interests in the region.


Press TV and IRNA contributed to this story.


Source : Iran Daily

#AFCAsianCup2019 Lebanon 4-1 DPR Korea

Sharjah: There was heartbreak for Lebanon despite coming from behind to defeat DPR Korea 4-1 in their final AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Group E match at the Sharjah Stadium on Thursday, as victory was not enough to take them through to the knockout stage.

Lebanon lost out to Vietnam on the fairplay rule after both teams finished with identical points and goal difference.

Lebanon needed to win by four clear goals to advance but despite a valiant effort, they fell just short.

Lebanon had the first look at goal from a free-kick in the sixth minute but Hassan Maatouk saw his effort blocked by a sea of defenders.

Kim Yong-jun’s men seized the opportunity to get in front, when Pak Kwang-ryong converted his free-kick in the ninth minute to give DPR Korea an early advantage.

Lebanon, however refused to give in and levelled the score just before the half hour mark when Maatouk showcased some sublime dribbling skills down the left before laying off for George Felix Melki, who smashed the ball into the back of the net.

Lebanon asserted more pressure on their opponents and almost scored again but Hilal Alhelwe’s effort was cleared off the line in the 32nd minute.

DPR Korea looked vulnerable at the back as Lebanon continued to dominate possession but wasted several chance as both teams went into the break level.

It was end to end action in the opening minutes of the second half with both teams determined not to settle for a draw.

Lebanon, however, continued to dominate play with DPR Korea finding themselves in trouble at the back with Felix Melki coming close to scoring in the 57th minute but angled his header across the bar.

Miodrag Radulovic’s side finally broke the deadlock in the 65th minute after Mohamad Haidar’s well-timed cross found an unmarked Alhelwe who turned to score from close range.

DPR Korea came under heavy pressure from the start of the second half as Lebanon attacked in numbers but the Cedars were unable to convert their chances in front of goal.

There was more agony for Kim’s charges as they conceded a penalty after Rabin Ataya was brought down in the danger area.

Maatouk converted the spot-kick in the 80th minute, sending goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk the wrong way, with a fourth coming in the seventh minute of added time through Hilal Alhelwe but there was no knockout stage joy for Lebanon.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

#AFCAsianCup2019 Saudi Arabia 0-2 Qatar

Abu Dhabi: Almoez Ali’s rich vein of form at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 continued on Thursday as he scored twice to help Qatar beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 and claim top spot in Group E.

The prolific 22-year-old struck either side of the break to take his tournament tally to seven on a night when Qatar registered a third successive group stage victory to head into the Round of 16 with momentum galore and leave their opponents occupying second place.

Qatar, quarter-finalists in 2000 and 2011, are now scheduled to meet Iraq in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, while three-time champions Saudi Arabia will face Japan in Sharjah a day earlier.

Both sides made a slow start to proceedings at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, with Mohammed Al Owais’ smart parry from Qatar midfielder Boualem Khoukhi’s fierce drive on 16 minutes the first genuine threat to either goal.

Hussain Al Moqahwi then blazed over the bar for Saudi Arabia following Yahya Al Shehri’s probing run and cross, before Fahad Al Muwallad struck an upright with Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb beaten.

Qatar were not to be denied however, and after Hasan Al Haydos had seen his 42nd minute penalty saved by Al Owais, hesitant Saudi defending allowed Abdelaziz Hatim’s through ball to find Almoez Ali who converted with ease to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time.

Within five minutes of the restart Hatan Bahbri forced Al Sheeb into a smart save and, as Saudi Arabia continued to search for an equaliser, the impressive Bahbri fizzed an effort from 15 yards narrowly over the bar on 73 minutes.

By way of contrast to Saudi Arabia’s frequent forays into the final third, Qatar’s opportunities were limited in the second period, although they were to extend their lead with 10 minutes remaining, Almoez Ali leaping highest to thump home a header from Hatim’s pinpoint corner.

It proved to be the final genuine goalmouth action, as Qatar, who once again kept a clean sheet, held on to seal another three points and further underline their title potential.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

#AFCAsianCup2019 Japan 2-1 Uzbekistan

Al Ain: Japan underlined the depth of talent available to coach Hajime Moriyasu on Thursday evening as the four-time champions came back from a goal behind to defeat Uzbekistan 2-1 in Al Ain and secure top spot in Group F of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

Yoshinori Muto and Tsukasa Shiotani scored for Japan after Eldor Shomurodov had given Uzbekistan the lead and Hector Cuper’s side will now face Australia in the Round of 16 while the Japanese will face the Group E runners-up, either Saudi Arabia or Qatar.

Moriyasu made 10 changes from the team that started the 1-0 win over Oman, with striker Koya Kitagawa the only player to survive the Japan coach’s decision to overhaul his line-up.

Despite that move, though, Japan retained their fluency throughout and spent much of the opening 45 minutes camped in the Uzbek half as Cuper’s team sat back, waiting to hit their opponents on the counter attack.

Junya Ito threatened early on and Takashi Inui, making his first start of the tournament, was lively, with the Real Betis man firing off a shot 19 minutes into the game that forced Ignatiy Nesterov to dive to his left.

Kitagawa forced Nesterov into further action 10 minutes before the break when his shot on the turn was tipped over by the veteran keeper.


With five minutes left in the half, Uzbekistan took the lead with a moment of magic from Shomurodov, the Rostov striker latching on to Dostonbek Khamamov’s through ball to outpace Tomoaki Makino before stepping inside Genta Miura and clipping the finest of finishes into the top corner with the outside of his right boot.

The lead, though, was to last only three minutes as Sei Muroya unlocked the Uzbek defence with a sharp turn on the left touchline before outstripping Farrukh Sayfiev and sending over an inch-perfect cross towards Muto, who rose to power his header home.

Kitagawa should have put Japan in front via an almost identical move, with Ito supplying the cross from the right, but his glancing header was off target.

 Buoyed by their finish to the first 45 minutes, Japan stepped up the tempo in the second period, with Ito particularly threatening down the right side as the half wore on.

Nesterov parried the Kashiwa Reysol man’s shot nine minutes after the restart while Muto went close seconds later, shooting just over the bar. Inui’s attempt from outside the area soon after suffered a similar fate.

Two minutes before the hour mark Shiotani made Japan’s pressure pay with a vicious left-foot strike from distance that rose and curled away from Nesterov as he dived desperately to his left to put Moriyasu’s team in front.


Uzbekistan pressed for a way past the Japanese defence, leaving themselves open to the counter-attack and Kitagawa should have doubled his side’s lead with eight minutes left, only to fire over the bar after Muto’s through ball.

Davronbek Khashimov forced Daniel Schmidt to tip his long-range drive over the bar in the final minutes as Japan closed out the game to take their third win in a row and advance to the next round with a perfect record.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

#AFCAsianCup 2019 Oman 3-1 Turkmenistan


Abu Dhabi: Oman gave themselves hope of advancing to the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019  for the first time after defeating Turkmenistan 3-1 in a Group F match at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Oman’s reward for sealing a spot in the UAE 2019 knockout stage for the first time in four appearances at the Finals is a meeting with either Group C winners Korea Republic or Islamic Republic of Iran, who topped Group D.

With the top two spots in the group not within reach, Japan finishing as group winners with a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan, both sides were playing for third place which a win by two goals would seal.

Turkmenistan had produced a gritty performance in their opener before going 3-2 down to Japan but found Uzbekistan too strong as they fell 4-0. Oman, meanwhile, suffered one goal defeats to both – 2-1 to Uzbekistan and 1-0 to Japan.

Pim Verbeek had stated before the match that a 2-0 win would be enough for his team to advance and Oman started on the front foot as they went in search of the opening goal.

Turkmenistan found Oman’s pace on both flanks hard to handle and one such move in the sixth minute should have seen the West Asians taking the lead but Muhsen Al Ghassani’s left-footed shot from the centre of the box was saved by goalkeeper Mamed Orazmuhamedov.

Oman continued to press and had two chances to take the lead in the 14th minute, with Muhsen Al Ghassani’s effort parried by Orazmuhamedov before Mohammed Al Hosni, with the goalmouth at his mercy, sent his shot high over the bar.


Oman’s persistence, however, finally paid off in the 20th minute with captain Ahmed Al Mahaijri scoring a screamer with a free-kick from 25 yards out.

Stung by the goal, Turkmenistan began to push forward more and came close in the 31st minute but Murat Yakshiyev’s header was tipped over by goalkeeper Faiyz Al Rusheidi.

Oman, however, continued to dictate the tempo and Khalid Al Hajri just missed the target with a left-footed shot in the 38th.

It was a miss that would prove to be costly as Turkmenistan, who had been growing as the game progressed, equalised in the 41st minute with Altymyrat Annadurdyyev evading several Oman players before unleashing his shot from the left into the top left corner.


Oman started the second half as they had done the first and totally dominated proceedings, coming close in the 55th and 56th minutes – through a header by Mohammed Al Musallami and a shot by Al Hajri respectively.

Al Ghassani went for the spectacular in the 68th minute with an overhead kick which Orazmuhamedov saved and the goalkeeper stood tall again just seconds later to deny Ahmed Al Mahaijri on the left, with the ball seemingly headed for the top of the net.

Orazmuhamedov, however, was finally beaten in the 84th minute with Al Ghassani sweeping the ball in after the goalkeeper had parried an initial effort.

Three minutes into added time, Mohammed Al-Musallami jumped high to head home and Oman’s celebrations began.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE

#AFCAsianCup2019 Australia 3-2 Syria

Australia v Syria - AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 - 2

Al Ain: Tom Rogic’s injury time stunner earned Australia a dramatic 3-2 win over Syria and a place in the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.

The Celtic midfielder struck from 25 yards to finally beat a determined Syrian side, who looked set to secure a point for new coach Fajr Ebrahim and his team, and maintain their slim hopes of a place in the next phase.

But Rogic’s goal not only ensured Australia progressed to the next round in second place in Group B but also eliminated the Syrians, who finished bottom of the group after Palestine picked up a point in their meeting with Jordan.

Syria looked set to earn a draw after twice coming from behind to level, with Omar Khrbin cancelling out Awer Mabil’s opener and Omar Al Soma netting from the penalty spot after Chris Ikonomidis had put Australia back in front.

The Syrians, buoyed by the arrival of new coach Ebrahim, had the better of the opening exchanges and, with 12 minutes gone, Al Soma gave Graham Arnold’s team a fright when he headed over. Just seconds later Khrbin shot across the face of goal after a poor clearance by Mat Ryan ended up at the feet of the former AFC Player of the Year.

Australia were struggling to deal with the intensity of the Syrians and, on the half-hour mark, Embrahim’s team thought they had taken the lead when Mouaiad Al Ajaan’s free-kick from distance found its way past Ryan, only for referee Cesar Ramos to rule it out for a foul on Mark Milligan in the build-up.

That let-off gave the Australians a boost, Ikonomidis finding the hands of Ibrahim Alma with his long range attempt before the Syrian keeper twice denied Jamie Maclaren. Mabil, meanwhile, saw his effort blocked by the defence.

In the 41st minute, though, Mabil ensured the Australian pressure paid off with a perfect curling left foot strike that gave Alma no chance as the ball arced its way inside the keeper’s right post.

The lead was to last less than two minutes, however, as Al Ajaan seared down the left flank beyond Rhyan Grant and sent in a cross that Khrbin headed goalward. Ryan made the initial save, but Khrbin converted the rebound.

Nine minutes after the restart, though, Australia were back in front.

Rogic’s sweeping ball from the left slid past Hussein Al Jwayed to land at the feet of Ikonomidis, who steered his effort over the line despite a despairing dive from Omro Al Midani. The Syrian defence thought Al Midani had kept the ball from crossing the line, but referee Cesar Ramos awarded the goal to the Socceroos.

Substitute Giannou Apostolos then hit the post 15 minutes from time as the Socceroos sought to kill the game, and five minutes later Syria were level after referee Ramos pointed to the spot and Al Soma converted.

The points looked destined to be shared until Rogic intervened three minutes into added time with a superb strike, beating Alam to his left with a blistering effort from distance.


Source : AFC Asian Football Confederation WEBSITE