Saturday Kickaround: Iraq sweating over ineligible player / KIMBO IS FREE!!! (Update 1)

Felt like writing up a short post, so here goes, a Saturday Kickaround from the Tavern Studio Canada.


The 2015 Asian Cup is further embroiled in controversy after allegations have emerged with respect to the eligibility of one of Iraq’s players.

In a shocking turn of events overnight, the Iranian FA has filed a complaint and has provided all documents necessary to the AFC saying that Iraqi midfielder Alaa Abdul-Zahra was ineligible for their 3-3 (6-7 PSO) Quarter-Final match in Canberra yesterday.

Abdul-Zahra had played for Tractor Sazi Club in Iran and had tested positive for doping, something that has reportedly been confirmed by FIFA. Abdul-Zahra then left the Iranian club after a mere 3 months in Iran before signing with Iraqi club Al-Shorta SC. At no point in this transfer did FIFA intervene.

Abdul-Zahra has publicly hit out at the reports, calling them “fake and fabricated”, after the story first came to light on SBS Australia’s website a few hours ago. The AFC is expected to deliver a ruling in the coming hours, although their laws state that two or more players have to be found guilty of consuming an illegal substance for a federation to be sanctioned.

Those are the facts – here’s some random musings on things:
Firstly, Iran are obviously desperate, they’ve just been eliminated from the Asian Cup, a tournament they had the potential to win, and against Iraq, their Gulf Rivals, no less. They feel cheated after Australia referee Ben Williams sent off their LB Mehrdad Pooladi (quite wrongly, might I add) when the Iranians were in total control. A change in their defensive setup and a lack of an extra man in their defensive setup caused chaos, and Iraq were able to get into the penalty box more often than Team Melli are used to. Basically, it was a shocking result, and a loss nobody saw coming.

Secondly, if Iran had evidence that Alaa Abdul-Zahra was ineligible, why bring forward the evidence now, after they have been knocked out by Iraq? One report suggests it was brought forward before the game – in that case, why did the AFC not deliver a ruling before the game?

Thirdly, the AFC and FIFA has seemingly screwed up bigtime. When a player is called out for doping, he doesn’t get to simply transfer clubs and throw the issue away. If this doping test did indeed happen, and the results did indeed find Abdul-Zahra guilty, then the AFC and FIFA are to blame for allowing Abdul-Zahra to register with the Iraqi team in the first place.

Basically, making these allegations public is a desperate move by Iran to try to win themselves a spot in the Semi-Finals. The AFC is to blame for not being more transparent on this issue if the IFF provided their evidence before the game between the two nations. FIFA won’t intervene because this is a continental tournament, but surely they had some role to play when Abdul-Zahra transfered. Finally, and most importantly for the purposes of this blog, Korea is in a bit of an awkward situation as both Iran and Iraq would know who they would play in the Semi-Finals once the ruling comes down sometime tonight (EST), but Korea doesn’t. And with only a couple days to prepare and scout our opponents, not actually knowing who they are isn’t a big help.

Anyhow, that’s just my opinion, feel free to give yours in the comments below. But moving on…


  • Korean media are reporting that Park Chu-Young is getting interest from Turkish Super Lig squad Gaziantepspor after doing pretty badly at Al-Shabab. With the transfer window closing in just over a week, it will be interesting to see if he can agree a move to the mid-table Turkish side.
  • Lee Chung-Yong’s move to Crystal Palace looks ever the more imminent but the London club cannot agree on the Korean playmaker’s wages after agreeing to a transfer fee rumored to be between 1.5 and 2.5 million pounds (between 2.2 and 3.7 million US dollars). Palace, by the way, have been rejuvenated with the arrival of former player Alan Pardew as their manager, with two inspiring comeback wins against Tottenham and Burnley (+ an FA Cup triumph at St. Mary’s against Southampton).
  • Hopefully a Kim Bo-Kyung transfer is a-brewing somewhere as the Cardiff City midfielder was left off their 18-man squad for their 2-1 FA Cup loss to Reading. #FreeKimbo?
  • (Update 1) I CALLED IT! I CALLED IT! Sort of. This just in from Cardiff City FC:



Ki is 26 years old today.

We’ll have more on the Iraq controversy as the AFC delivers its ruling in the coming hours. Stay tuned here at the Tavern.

About Tim Lee 321 Articles
The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?


  1. you know what would make it fair for iraq and iran if the allegations are true but also neutralize any prep advantage over korea? let them replay and then try to turn around on short rest and play korea.

  2. I’m sure KNT’s staff never even considered looking at tapes of Iran after their loss – when the whistle blows at the end of a match during a large tournament, it’s decisively final. Was there anytime in history where a match was actually replayed? Refs are always going to make misjudgements, so I’m sure KNT did enough homework over Iraq by now.

    • It’s not so much that the match would have been replayed, it was the slim chance that the AFC/FIFA would be stupid and decide to boot Iraq out for fielding a supposedly ineligible player thus advancing Iran by default. I still suspect, especially if Iraq goes out in the semis, that they may be punished retroactively and stripped of results.

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