AFC Asian Cup 2023: Iran’s Ezatolahi questions appointment of Kuwaiti referee for semifinal match against Qatar

Iran questions appointment of Kuwaiti referee for Asian Cup semifinal against Qatar, expressing surprise and concerns.

Published : Feb 06, 2024 16:02 IST , Doha - 1 MIN READ

Referee Ahmad Al Ali shows a yellow card.
Referee Ahmad Al Ali shows a yellow card. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Referee Ahmad Al Ali shows a yellow card. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Iran defender Saeid Ezatolahi has questioned the appointment of a Kuwaiti referee for its Asian Cup semifinal against hosts and holders Qatar on Wednesday.

Ahmad Al-Ali is reportedly set to take charge of the game in Doha and Ezatolahi said it was “a little bit surprising”.

“We are wondering how it’s possible that they put an Arabic guy in charge of the game,” Ezatolahi, who plays for Danish club Vejle, said on Tuesday.

“But we are Iran, we are a very big team, we have good players, we are professional.”

The Asian Football Confederation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iran is trying to win the Asian Cup for the first time since 1976 and reached the semifinals after beating pre-tournament favourites Japan 2-1.

READ | Hyderabad to host FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers between India and Kuwait on June 6

On the eve of the Qatar clash, Iran coach Amir Ghalenoei also hit out at some of the officiating at the tournament, saying “VAR has not been very kind to us”.

“We could have had a penalty against Japan but VAR did not check it for us,” he said.

“We have to be stronger than everything that is happening at this tournament.”

Qatar are the defending champions and beat Uzbekistan on penalties to advance to the semifinals.

Asked about the referee for Wednesday’s match, Qatar coach Tintin Marquez said he was “only focusing on my own team”.

“I don’t think about who is the referee,” said the Spaniard.

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