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 News of Group A B C D

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kingsthii

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PostSubject: Re: News of Group A B C D   Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:48 am

Bahrain Vs Korea Republic
Preview - Bahrain Vs Korea Republic

Bahrain coach Milan Macala believes his side's clash with South Korea on Sunday is their last chance to qualify for the knockout phase of the AFC Asian Cup.

Macala's team kicked off their campaign with a surprise defeat at the hands of co-hosts Indonesia, a result that has left the Gulf side in desperate need of a win against Pim Verbeek's side.

"Our match against South Korea is our last chance," he said. "We have the right to qualify and even if we had one point it will be good.

"South Korea have a good side as they have a mixture of experienced and young players. I've checked the players' ages and the majority are young and I think that they are preparing the team for the future.

"They have good talents and even without their three players who play in Europe, they are still a good team."

The Koreans came to South East Asia without injured England-based trio Park Ji-Sung, Lee Young-Pyo and Seol Ki-Hyeon but are still considered among the favourites for the title, despite being held to a 1-1 draw in their opening game by Saudi Arabia.

Macala is expecting to make several changes to the starting line-up with the return of duo Mohammed Hussain and Salman Maki, who missed the game due to suspension.

"We are probably going to have some changes in the defence with the return of the players who missed the first game," he said. "We will have Mohammed Hussain and Salman Maki back to the team while we have now one injured player.

"Midfielder Abdulla Omar is still not 100% fit as he has a problem in his leg muscle and we will see how fit will he be in the last training before the match."

Korea have midfielder Lee Chun-soo fit after shaking off a fever that kept him out of the starting line-up for the 1-1 draw with Saudi Arabia, although Verbeek refused to be drawn on whether he would play from the beginning.

"Chun-soo would normally have normally played against Saudi Arabia but he had a fever and he wasn't ready," said Verbeek.

"But the fever is okay, he's feeling much better, and although he has lost some time in training he is fit enough to start tomorrow."

The Dutchman will hold off on deciding the make up of his starting line-up until the morning of the game as assesses the impact of the hot and humid Indonesian conditions on his players.

"The (Saudi) game was heavy," he added. "But every team has that same problem and we have to wait until tomorrow to see if everybody is fit enough to start.

"I will wait until tomorrow to talk to the players to decide on the final XI. So far everybody is fit.

"I think we had a very good training session in the stadium yesterday and we didn't do much in the afternoon because I think we are ready for the game."
Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association



Korea

Saudi Arabia And South Korea In Dramatic Draw

Saudi Arabia salvaged a 1-1 draw against South Korea when Yasser Al Qahtani scored from the penalty spot 13 minutes from time in their Asian Cup Group D encounter on Wednesday evening.
In a game that was delayed for almost 25 minutes due to an 85th minute power failure at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Al Qahtani's penalty cancelled out Choi Sung-kuk's 66th-minute header to earn both teams a point from their tournament opener.

The emergency lights in the stadium came on as the game was reaching its climax, leaving players and fans in the shade.

The Saudis had been the quicker of the two teams out of the blocks when the game kicked off, as Malek Maaz's pace saw him sear down the left before firing in a cross that was the perfect height for Al Qahtani, but the Al Hilal man could only glance his header across the face of goal.

That was an early wake-up call for the Koreans and from there the half became an intriguing midfield battle.

Choi Sung-kuk had a lively start with his speed and trickery keeping the Saudi defence on their toes while at the other end a break through midfield by Ahmed Al Mousa in the 25th minute set up Maaz, but his shot was bundled round the post by Lee Woon-jae.

Cho Jae-jin threatened with a header two minutes later before almost claiming he spectacular opener three minutes ahead of the break when his overhead attempt following Oh Beom-seok's cross was tipped over the bar by Yasser Al Mosailem.

With barely seconds left in the half, Al Mosailem was called into action again when Kim Chi-woo fired in a low shot which bounced in front of the Al Ahli goalkeeper, who used his legs to clear.

Maaz continued to look the Saudi most likely to score in the second half when, seven minutes after the restart he capitalised on an error by Oh Beom-seok to take possession 35 yards from goal, only to fire off a shot that went just wide.

Cho saw his header from Yeom's free-kick go just wide six minutes later before Choi gave the Koreans the lead in the 66th minute.

Al Mousa was caught ball watching as Yeom's centre came in from the left and the Seongnam Ilhwa man crashed his header beyond the reach of Al Mosailem.

The goal was Choi's last contribution to the game as he made way for Lee Chun-soo immediately after the restart, but it took the Saudis only 11 minutes to pull level.

Maaz was confronted by Oh just inside the penalty area and, as he tried to go round the Pohang Steelers midfielder, the Al Ahli man went to the ground and the referee pointed to the spot.

From there, Al Qahtani - who had been virtually anonymous throughout the game - sent Lee the wrong way to earn the Saudis a point before the stadium was plunged into darkness.

When the game resumed, Saad Al Harthi fired off a long-range attempt in the first minute of injury time that Lee did well to save, while seconds later he had another chance to win the game for the Saudis, only to fire into the side netting.
Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association


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PostSubject: Re: News of Group A B C D   Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:53 am

Group C

China

Zhu set to make changes


KUALA LUMPUR - China head coach Zhu Guanghu has admitted that he may well tinker with his side's tactics before their crucial AFC Asian Cup 2007 Group C clash with Iran on Sunday.

China overwhelmed co-hosts Malaysia last Tuesday to register a comfortable 5-1 win, but the 47-year-old was quick to point out that group heavyweights Iran represent an entirely different challenge.

"There have already been two rounds of games played in both Groups A and B and we can see that every match is important and that every opponent is not easy to play against," Zhu said.

"This China team must go step by step because we are facing three opponents who are strong teams and that of course includes Iran who have won the Asian Cup three times and appeared at World Cups.

"Iran are the strongest team in the group and because of this we are going to play differently than we did against Malaysia in our opening game.

"From what we know, Iran are a very good attacking side so I think tomorrow night's match will be a game of attack and counterattack.

"Although, even if we do change our strategy, we will be trying just as hard to win the game against Iran as we were when we played Malaysia."

Keen to erase memories of China's Asian Cup final defeat at the hands of Japan three years ago, Zhu was adamant that his side have learned from that particularly painful experience, a healing process that is being helped by a sizeable number of players with experience of playing in Europe.

"Our 2004 defeat will only serve to push us on , and some of the players who played then could benefit the others," he explained.

"After our first match our team is however in very good condition, and it is being helped by the players we have who play abroad.

"There is little doubt that they can have a very positive effect on the rest of their colleagues."

China captain and former Charlton Athletic star Zheng Zhi was also adamant that China were fully prepared for their biggest test so far.

"In this four team group, we have three very important games, all of which are crucial," the midfielder said.

"Every game will have an impact on the final rankings of the group, especially this game tomorrow. We definitely want to beat Iran and then that will mean we will top the group."


Iran

Ghalenoei: My absence will not affect us

KUALA LUMPUR - Iran coach Amir Ghalenoei has expressed astonishment at his enforced absence from the bench for Team Melli’s crucial AFC Asian Cup 2007 match against China on Sunday, but insists that he will not be missed.

The former Eteghlal boss received a one match ban after he was sent to the stands during Iran’s opening 2-1 defeat of Uzbekistan for throwing a water bottle at an official.

Whilst continuing to strenuously deny the charge and questioning why Qatar coach Dzemaludin Musovic was not punished for a similar brush with the authorities, Ghalenoei was at pains to point out that he has the utmost faith in the rest of Iran’s backroom staff ahead of a game that looks set to
decide who will finish at the top of Group C.

“My problem here has not been resolved so I will be suspended for the China game. Having said that though, I am amazed that the coach of Qatar has not been similarly punished after what he did against Japan,” the 43-year-old said.

“My decision was a very unfair one because it was a mistake by referee. I threw the water bottle after a mistake by one of my players and not at an official. Even when they had made their decision, I went to the stands very quietly. I am amazed that they are suspending me.

“I have a great belief in my staff though. It is not going to make a big difference if I am not there,” he added.

Last Wednesday’s come from behind win against the Uzbeks gave Iran the perfect start in a competition they have already won on three occasions.

Nevertheless, Ghalenoei knows his charges will face a stiff challenge from a China side who opened their account with a 5-1 thrashing of Malaysia.

“The game we have already had was very difficult, but we got the three points and we are going into the China match very motivated.

“I believe our team is going to get better and better as the tournament progresses. Having said that, China are a very good side. They are well organised defensively and their defenders support the attack well.

“I also believe they play at a faster pace than they used to. I really do think that we are going to have a tough time but China do also have their weaknesses.”

Whist naturally reluctant to reveal who will start tomorrow, Ghalenoei was however confident that whoever represents Iran would perform to the best of their ability in the face of what is certain to be a concerted Chinese team effort.

“The system I choose to play is based purely on the ability of my players to perform in their positions and the players who are playing offensively must be able to defend.

“I am not focussing on one or two Chinese players because I prefer to look at the threat their whole team has, I am definitely not setting up my team to only counter one or two of their players.”


Malaysia -- Uzbekistan

Uzbeks trounce sorry Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - Maksim Shatskikh scored a brace as Uzbekistan kept alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup 2007 with a 5-0 demolition of Malaysia at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Saturday.

The central Asian side took advantage of sloppy defending by the co-hosts to race into a 3-0 lead by half-time through goals by Shatskikh and Timur Kapadze and a stoppage time penalty by Ulugbek Bakaev.

Server Djeparov rocked the crossbar in the second half before substitute Aziz Ibragimov and Shatskikh added late goals to seal an emphatic victory for the Uzbeks in the Group C clash.

Following contrasting opening defeats, both coaches rung the changes with four alterations apiece.

Shatskikh, who had missed Uzbekistan’s 2-1 defeat against Iran through suspension, replaced Pavel Solomin up front, goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov took over from Pavel Bugalo, Anzur Ismailov replaced Aziz Ibragimov in defence, and Victor Karpenko came in for the injured Aziz Haydarov.

Meanwhile, Malaysia coach Norizan Bakar brought in defenders V.Thirumurugan and K.Nanthakumar, attacking midfielder Mohammed Ivan Yusoff and Indra Putra Mahayuddin for Fauzie Nan, Fadzli Saari, Norhafiz Zamani Misbah and Akmal Rizal Rakhli as the co-hosts looked to bounce back from a 5-1 hammering against China.

However, the Malaysian defensive frailties that had been apparent against China were exposed once again in the 10th minute when the Uzbeks were awarded a free-kick following Rosdi Talib’s foul on Bakaev near the left touchline.

Djeparov swung in the kick which flew just over the head of a leaping Islom Inomov but dropped nicely for an unmarked Shatskikh, who stooped to head the bouncing ball past Azizon Kadir at the far post

Stung by the early setback, the home side came to life and enjoyed a good passage of play highlighted by Shahrulnizam Mustapha’s toe-poke from the edge of the box in the 20th minute which was deflected wide of Ignatiy Nesterov’s right post by an Uzbek defender.

However, Malaysia’s efforts to get back into the game would be completely undermined by another soft goal on the half-hour.

Following a giveaway by the Malaysians in their own half, Karpenko latched on to Timur Kapadze’s pass and surged into the box past half-hearted challenges by Khaironisam Sahabuddin Hussain and K.Nanthakumar before firing a rising shot past a helpless Azizon.

The home side continued to battle and went close to pulling a goal back when Hardi Jaafar’s free kick from 35 metres bounced in front of Nesterov forcing an awkward save from the Uzbek goalkeeper.

Hairuddin Omar also went close when he headed Shahrulnizam’s cross wide from 10 metres.

But any hopes that the hosts had of getting back into the match evaporated just before the half-time whistle when Azizon conceded a penalty for chopping down an advancing Bakaev.

The Uzbek striker picked himself up and confidently stroked the ball past the Malaysian keeper to give his side a three-goal advantage at the break.

Uzbekistan could have made it four early in the second half when Djeparov threaded a pass through to Shatskikh on the left of the Malaysian box, the Dynamo Kiev striker firing across Azizon and just wide of the far post.

Shatskikh then set up Ibragimov with a nice lay-off in the 56th minute but the substitute’s effort was deflected over the crossbar by a Malaysian defender.

Malaysia’s best chance of the half came in the 59th minute following a nice piece of skill by Indra Putra, who received the ball from Nor Farhan Muhammad and flicked the ball with the back of his heel past Hayrulla Karimov before shooting narrowly wide of the Uzbek goal.

Djeparov then rocked the cross bar with a shot from the edge of the box on 67 minutes.

On 79 minutes, Khaironnisam nearly atoned for his earlier defensive lapse as he burst into the box and delivered a dangerous low cross that deflected off Nesterov just past his left upright.

In the 82nd minute, Shatskikh released Alexander Geynrikh with a neat through ball but the substitute fired his effort wide.

But Uzbekistan’s fourth would finally arrive in the 85th minute when Pavel Solomin crossed from the right to an unmarked Ibragimov, who side-footed a volley past Azizon from 15 metres.

Shatskikh then added his second in the 89th minute, finishing from close range after a neat exchange of passes between Djeparov and Kapadze had carved apart the Malaysian defence.

Azizon prevented any further damage by tipping over a Solomin effort in stoppage time but the comprehensive defeat is only likely to add to the pressure on under-fire Malaysia coach Norizan Bakar, whose side are all but eliminated from the tournament.
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PostSubject: Re: News of Group A B C D   Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:55 am

Group C

China -- Iran

Iran battle back to hold China

KUALA LUMPUR – Javad Nekounam headed home in the 73rd minute as Iran recovered from a two-goal deficit to hold China to a 2-2 draw in an entertaining AFC Asian Cup Group C encounter at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Sunday evening

In a rematch of the 2004 Asian Cup semi-final, won by the Chinese on penalties, Shao Jiayi fired the east Asian side ahead with a sixth-minute free-kick and Mao Jianqing extended their advantage with a well-taken effort in the 33rd minute.

But Ferydoon Zandi reduced the deficit right at the end of the first half before Nekounam rose above the Chinese defence to head the sides level 17 minutes from time, keeping the two teams level at the top of Group C with four points each.

The result eliminated co-hosts Malaysia from the tournament but left the top two spots in the group still up for grabs with Uzbekistan, who face China on Wednesday, just a point behind the two front-runners.

China named an unchanged starting 11 from the side that hammered Malaysia 5-1 in their opener while Iran made only one alteration from their 2-1 victory over Uzbekistan with Rasoul Khatibi replaced by Hossein Kaebi.

The match kicked off in damp conditions in front of a small but noisy crowd and it was the Chinese that showed the early attacking intent, nearly taking the lead inside 20 seconds with a scissors-kick volley by Han Peng that flew over the crossbar.

The 2004 runners-up battered the Iranian goal in the early minutes and the pressure told in the sixth minute when Han was fouled by Javad Nekounam 25 metres from goal.

The Iranian midfielder was booked for the challenge and from the resulting free-kick, Shao Jiayi curled in an effort that Roudbarian got his hand to but could only palm into his own net.

The Iranians were having trouble coping with China’s high-tempo game and Ferydoon Zandi had to head the ball clear after Li Weifeng’s searching free-kick from his own half nearly picked out Han Peng.

China were fortunate to escape when Zandi’s low cross from the left byline was nearly deflected into his own net by Han but it could have been 2-0 on 31 minutes when Zheng Zhi worked a free-kick from the left over to an unattended Zhou Haibin who fired narrowly wide from 20 metres.

The Chinese would get their second though just two minutes later after Zheng floated in an inviting cross from the right flank that went just over the head of a leaping Shao Jiayi but dropped right at the feet of an unmarked Mao Jianqing, who rammed the ball past Roudbarian before Kaebi could close him down.

Stung into life by the second goal, Iran enjoyed their first decent period of possession in the closing minutes of the half.

Hashemian saw his glancing header saved by Li Leilei in the 36th minute and the China goalkeeper did even better on 43 minutes when he pushed aside a fierce drive by Mahdavikia from the top of the box.

However, Iran would got a lifeline right at the end of the half when they won a free-kick on the right of the Chinese box 20 metres from goal, Mahdavikia touching the ball to Zandi, who lashed a fierce shot past Li Leilei into the top right corner of the net.

Iran assistant coach Nasser Ebrahimi, who took charge with Amir Ghalenoei suspended, made two changes at the break, bringing on Eman Mobali and Javad Kazemian, for the disappointing Ali Karimi and Hossein Kaebi.

The start of the second half would be a scrappy affair as Iran tried to impose themselves on the Chinese, who were content to sit back and absorb the pressure.

For all their pressure, the Iranians made little headway early on with their best opportunities falling to Mobali, who dragged an effort wide from 20 metres in the 55th minute, and Hashemian, whose drive from the edge of the box was deflected over by Li Weifeng six minutes later.

The Iranians were virtually camped in the Chinese half and both Reza Enayati and Nekounam headed wide before the equaliser finally arrived in the 73rd minute when Nekounam rose majestically above the Chinese defence to level the score.

China had offered little to that point in the second half but they enjoyed the better of the closing minutes and could have stolen a winner in the 78th minute when Zhu Ting crossed from the left flank for Zhao Xuri, who lashed a first time volley narrowly wide.

At the end though, a draw was a fair reflection on a spirited encounter dominated by the Chinese in the first half and by the Iranians after the break.


Uzbekistan -- Malaysia

Nanthakumar laments defensive lapses

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia defender K. Nanthakumar has revealed that all too frequent lapses in concentration cost his side dear during their crushing 5-0 AFC Asian Cup 2007 defeat at the hands of Uzbekistan on Saturday.

Following the co-hosts’ equally devastating 5-1 Group C loss to China in their opening match at Asia’s premier tournament, Nanthakumar, along with striker Indra Putra Mahayuddin, was recalled to Malaysia’s starting eleven at a poorly-attended Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

However, despite the duo’s presence, a brace from Uzbek and Dynamo Kiev star Maksim Shatskikh, coupled with goals by Timur Kapadze, Ulugbek Bakaev and Aziz Ibragimov condemned the Malaysians to yet another error-ridden defeat and virtually eliminated them from the competition.

“I am very disappointed that we lost by such a scoreline as this tonight, I really do think that we should not have lost by so much,” the Perak favourite said.

“In my opinion, I think that our players did not concentrate when Uzbekistan were delivering their crosses and we were also in trouble when they played one-twos on the edge of our area. We got out of position a lot when they did that.”

With quality individuals such as four-time Uzbekistan Player of the Year Shatskikh, midfield playmaker Server Djeparov as well as up and coming youngster Vitaliy Denisov in the Uzbek side, Malaysia’s chances of getting anything from the game were always going to be difficult, a fact the tall 29-year-old readily conceded after the match.

“The Uzbekistan game was always going to be a hard one for us because they are a good team which includes many players such as Shatskikh who play for sides in Europe.

“We, of course, don’t have any of our team playing in Europe. The difference between them and us is a big one.”

With the pressure continuing to mount on embattled head coach Norizan Bakar, Nanthakumar, a key figure in his club side’s terrific domestic season, was insistent that Malaysia wanted to finish the Asian Cup’s fourteenth edition on a high when they entertain Iran next Wednesday.

“Although we are disappointed, we now want to improve but it seems that luck is not on our side. We will definitely try our best against Iran.”

As his side’s steep learning curve nears completion, Nanthakumar was also in no doubt as to which of Malaysia’s two conquerors was the more impressive.

“China are a better team than Uzbekistan,” he said.

“They have a lot of very experienced players who are performing regularly outside their own country and I think they can only get better in this tournament.”
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PostSubject: Re: News of Group A B C D   Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:58 am

Saudi Arabia

Anjos Masterminds Saudi Win

Jul 15 2007 20:22

Saudi Arabia coach Helio Anjos responded to his critics in the Gulf nation in perfect fashion by picking up his first competitive win with victory over Indonesia in the Asian Cup.
The Brazilian coach's team sealed a late 2-1 win over co-hosts Indonesia thanks to Saad Al Harthi's header three minutes into injury time, allowing the former Sao Caetano boss to answer those who have been questioning his ability.

"The criticism was normal because I have never worked in Arabian football before," said Anjos, who replaced Saudi's World Cup coach Marcos Paqueta.

"I don't care about the criticism. I have a lot of experience in Brazil, coaching there in more than 1,000 games, and I know that I only have to answer the critics with results, and with good results."

It was so nearly not the case, however, as Indonesia fought a valiant rearguard action to frustrate the three-time champions until virtually the last touch of the game.

Yasser Al Qahtani had given Saudi Arabia the lead 14 minutes into the game with a fine header only for Elie Aiboy to pull his side level six minutes later when he rounded goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem to score.

Saudi, though, took complete control in the last quarter of the game, forcing Indonesia into a series of desperate last-ditch defensive moves to thwart Anjos' side.

But just when it looked like Indonesia were going to send the majority of the capacity crowd inside the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium home happy, substitute Al Harthi powered Abdulrahman Al Qahtani's free kick over the outstretched hand of Yandri Pitoy.

That header silenced the home fans and left Indonesia coach Ivan Kolev despondent on the day he celebrated his 50th birthday.

"I feel disappointed for the players and team," he said. "I feel sorry for the huge crowd in particular as we should have got one point today."

The result means Indonesia need to take something from their final match against Korea Republic on Wednesday and Kolev is hoping his players can bounce back against difficult games against the Saudis and Bahrain.

"I'm realistic, not pessimistic or optimistic," he said. "What we will try to do is deploy another strategy and I will have some new players against Korea Republic.

"Hopefully the players will recover quickly and have a good game. I will try my best to make them ready for our final match."
Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association




Indonesia
Anjos Masterminds Saudi Win

Jul 15 2007 20:22

Saudi Arabia coach Helio Anjos responded to his critics in the Gulf nation in perfect fashion by picking up his first competitive win with victory over Indonesia in the Asian Cup.
The Brazilian coach's team sealed a late 2-1 win over co-hosts Indonesia thanks to Saad Al Harthi's header three minutes into injury time, allowing the former Sao Caetano boss to answer those who have been questioning his ability.

"The criticism was normal because I have never worked in Arabian football before," said Anjos, who replaced Saudi's World Cup coach Marcos Paqueta.

"I don't care about the criticism. I have a lot of experience in Brazil, coaching there in more than 1,000 games, and I know that I only have to answer the critics with results, and with good results."

It was so nearly not the case, however, as Indonesia fought a valiant rearguard action to frustrate the three-time champions until virtually the last touch of the game.

Yasser Al Qahtani had given Saudi Arabia the lead 14 minutes into the game with a fine header only for Elie Aiboy to pull his side level six minutes later when he rounded goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem to score.

Saudi, though, took complete control in the last quarter of the game, forcing Indonesia into a series of desperate last-ditch defensive moves to thwart Anjos' side.

But just when it looked like Indonesia were going to send the majority of the capacity crowd inside the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium home happy, substitute Al Harthi powered Abdulrahman Al Qahtani's free kick over the outstretched hand of Yandri Pitoy.

That header silenced the home fans and left Indonesia coach Ivan Kolev despondent on the day he celebrated his 50th birthday.

"I feel disappointed for the players and team," he said. "I feel sorry for the huge crowd in particular as we should have got one point today."

The result means Indonesia need to take something from their final match against Korea Republic on Wednesday and Kolev is hoping his players can bounce back against difficult games against the Saudis and Bahrain.

"I'm realistic, not pessimistic or optimistic," he said. "What we will try to do is deploy another strategy and I will have some new players against Korea Republic.

"Hopefully the players will recover quickly and have a good game. I will try my best to make them ready for our final match."
Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association





Korea Republic

Park Ji-Sung Facing Lengthy Lay-Off

Jul 16 2007 18:39

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Park Ji-Sung could be out until January following knee surgery.
The South Korean international was forced to have an operation towards the end of last season and now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Park will be part of United's visit to Seoul later this week but, after landing in Tokyo for the first leg of his side's four-match Far East tour, Ferguson revealed the former PSV Eindhoven player will be a frustrated spectator for a while yet.

"He will not be available until December or January," said Ferguson.

"It is very disappointing news but hopefully we have the squad to cover injuries this year."

Even if Tevez manages to complete his move this week, he is not likely to join his new team-mates until they return to England ahead of the August 1 friendly with Inter Milan at Old Trafford.

Another absentee from the trip is South Korean midfielder Park Ji-sung, who will possibly be out of action until January following a knee operation.

Park will make a public appearance when United land in Seoul on Wednesday but Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed the 26-year-old former PSV Eindhoven star will be restricted to a watching brief for quite a while after undergoing surgery last April.

"He will not be available until December or January," said Ferguson.

"It is very disappointing news but hopefully we have the squad to cover injuries this year."

Of United's other current injury absences, Ferguson reported both skipper Gary Neville and veteran front-man Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be back in training ahead of the season-opener against Reading on August 12.

Key forward Louis Saha will be out slightly longer, with Ferguson confirming it would be mid-August before he will be back on the training field at Carrington.

While Saha should feature for the Red Devils again, it appears Gabriel Heinze has played his last game for the club.

The full-back, who played alongside Tevez for Argentina in Venezuela last night, has expressed a desire to leave Old Trafford, with arch rivals Liverpool among those showing an interest.

It remains highly unlikely Heinze will be allowed to join the Anfield outfit, but Ferguson seems resigned to the popular defender's exit.

"Gaby's agent has advised us that he wants to move on," he said.

"I am not too sure about that and we do not have a concrete offer from any particular club.

"But there is some momentum regarding the player's next move in terms of through his agent, even if nothing is close at this moment in time."
Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association



Preview - Bahrain Vs Korea Republic

Jul 15 2007 07:14

Bahrain coach Milan Macala believes his side's clash with South Korea on Sunday is their last chance to qualify for the knockout phase of the AFC Asian Cup.

Macala's team kicked off their campaign with a surprise defeat at the hands of co-hosts Indonesia, a result that has left the Gulf side in desperate need of a win against Pim Verbeek's side.

"Our match against South Korea is our last chance," he said. "We have the right to qualify and even if we had one point it will be good.

"South Korea have a good side as they have a mixture of experienced and young players. I've checked the players' ages and the majority are young and I think that they are preparing the team for the future.

"They have good talents and even without their three players who play in Europe, they are still a good team."

The Koreans came to South East Asia without injured England-based trio Park Ji-Sung, Lee Young-Pyo and Seol Ki-Hyeon but are still considered among the favourites for the title, despite being held to a 1-1 draw in their opening game by Saudi Arabia.

Macala is expecting to make several changes to the starting line-up with the return of duo Mohammed Hussain and Salman Maki, who missed the game due to suspensȒ?

"We are probably going to have some changes in the defence with the return of the players who missed the first game," he said. "We will have Mohammed Hussain and Salman Maki back to the team while we have now one injured player.

"Midfielder Abdulla Omar is still not 100% fit as he has a problem in his leg muscle and we will see how fit will he be in the last training before the match."

Korea have midfielder Lee Chun-soo fit after shaking off a fever that kept him out of the starting line-up for the 1-1 draw with Saudi Arabia, although Verbeek refused to be drawn on whether he would play from the beginning.

"Chun-soo would normally have normally played against Saudi Arabia but he had a fever and he wasn't ready," said Verbeek.

"But the fever is okay, he's feeling much better, and although he has lost some time in training he is fit enough to start tomorrow."

The Dutchman will hold off on deciding the make up of his starting line-up until the morning of the game as assesses the impact of the hot and humid Indonesian conditions on his players.

"The (Saudi) game was heavy," he added. "But every team has that same problem and we have to wait until tomorrow to see if everybody is fit enough to start.

"I will wait until tomorrow to talk to the players to decide on the final XI. So far everybody is fit.

"I think we had a very good training session in the stadium yesterday and we didn't do much in the afternoon because I think we are ready for the game."
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PostSubject: Re: News of Group A B C D   Sat Jul 21, 2007 11:18 am

Iran VS Korea Republic

Iran Scrape Through

Staff Writer
Jul 19 2007 07:08

Iran claimed a spot in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup despite being made to fight all the way before beating resilient co-hosts Malaysia 2-0
Faced by a Malaysian side who had been heavily beaten in their first two games, a first half penalty by Javad Nekounam and Andranik Teymourian's 78th-minute drive left a below par Iran sitting at the top of Group C ahead of Uzbekistan, who beat China 3-0 to finish second.

Iran's stuttering win means that Amir Ghalenoei's side will stay in Kuala Lumpur for a last eight clash with South Korea, who finished as runners-up in Group D.

Having called for a heroic rearguard action, Malaysia coach Norizan Bakar will have been delighted with his charges' resilience, although possibly less pleased with the space afforded to Vahid Hashemian whose ninth-minute shot from Teymourian's cross was superbly turned onto his bar by Malaysia goalkeeper Azizon Kadir.

Three minutes later and Azizon was in the thick of things again as he dived to deflect a fiercely struck Reza Enayati shot onto his right hand post.

Despite their early dominance, Iran failed to find a way through the home side's defence and nearly conceded themselves when Aidil Radzak burst through a static Iranian backline, but the youngster's shot was deflected safely into the arms of stopper Hassan Roudbarian.

The breakthrough came after 29 minutes. Ali Karimi's well-timed run into the Malaysian box was checked illegally by Hussain Khaironissam according to referee Muhsen Basma.

Javad Nekounam, scorer of Iran's equaliser against China in a 2-2 draw, tucked away the resulting penalty with ease.

The Malaysian woodwork was rattled again only moments later when Rahman Rezaei's headed cross was thumped against the bar by Hashemian.

Malaysia came close to equalising after 44 minutes when Shukor Adan's run down the right flank saw him find space to fire in a shot that brought the best out of Roudbarian to send the home team into the break in a buoyant mood.

With Malaysia continuing to fight for every blade of the Bukit Jalil National Stadium turf, Iran had to wait until the 58th minute for their first serious attempt of the half, Teymourian's effort being tipped away acrobatically by Azizon.

Substitute Rassoul Khatibi duly headed horribly wide from only five yards before he was booked for attempting to win a penalty with a dramatic dive.

A long range pile driver from Hashemian was then gathered well by Azizon as Malaysian bodies continued to thwart Iran, a terrific team spirit that was epitomised in the 71st minute as Hamzani Omar reacted brilliantly to deny Khatibi a clear attempt on goal.

Javad Kazemian's lobbed effort on 75 minutes fell agonisingly wide before Iran's superior possession was turned into something more tangible three minutes later when Teymourian converted a Mehdi Mahdavikia pass with unerring accuracy to beat Azizon at his near post.

Karimi's last gasp shot was turned onto the bar by Azizon and the save proved to be the last meaningful action of a game which Iran may have won but from which Malaysia emerged with plaudits galore.
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Iran Boss Wants Showpiece Win

Jul 17 2007 23:40

Iran head coach Amir Ghalenoei has revealed that he has been working hard to iron out one or two problems ahead of the Persian outfit's crucial AFC Asian Cup Group C clash with Malaysia.

In their group games so far, Iran have beaten Uzbekistan 2-1 and drawn 2-2 with China, games that were notable for the way in which Iran battled back after conceding early goals.

Despite being content with the resolve shown by Iran in those two encounters, Ghalenoei is keen for his charges to show more consistency over 90 minutes as his side look to secure a place in the quarter-finals.

"We have looked at this up and down and we have had several meetings with team officials and the experienced players who are here," he said.

"We have reached some conclusions but I would prefer to keep them quiet for now. What I can say, though, is that both the teams we have played against so far played very defensively.

"I think Malaysia will also play the same way. As usual our team will have an attacking system in order to score some goals."

Ghalenoei also insisted that he will not let complacency wreck his side's chances of conquering co-hosts Malaysia - who have crashed to heavy defeats against Uzbekistan and China - and finishing top of their group.

The three-time Asian Cup winners need to beat the co-hosts in convincing fashion on Wednesday in order to finish above both China and Uzbekistan, a position that would see Iran stay in Malaysia for their quarter-final match.

"I have to say that we always respect our opponents and that of course includes the Malaysia national team," Ghalenoei added.

"We have to try and be first in this group because we would then stay in Malaysia. As you know Malaysia have conceded a lot of goals in their first two games. Even so, we have to approach this game in the same way as we approached our games against Uzbekistan and China.

"The result of this match is important and we will use all our key players against Malaysia because we prefer to stay in Malaysia where we have been made to feel very welcome.

"Our first priority is therefore to win the group and then we will think about who we will play next in the quarter-finals."

Meanwhile, Ghalenoei's Malaysian counterpart, Norizan Bakar, has countered the criticism of his side's campaign ahead of the game.

Malaysia's 5-1 defeat to China was swiftly followed by an equally humiliating 5-0 loss at the hands of Uzbekistan, results that have led to hostility from the national press and the resignation of one of the country's top football officials.

"This tournament has brought its ups and downs but I do not want to run away from my responsibilities," said the former Perlis and Penang boss.

"With all that is happening around us, with all the criticism and humiliation, even the best psychologists would struggle to help our team.

"I can see that team morale is quite low at the moment after the two defeats, and I have said that we must approach the Iran game in the right manner.

"I have just told the players that the criticism is part and parcel of football and that what is happening here at the Asian Cup can only help us in the future."
Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association




Iran Stun China With Fightback


Jul 16 2007 18:40

Iran staged a stunning recovery to earn a dramatic 2-2 draw against China in Group C of the AFC Asian Cup on Sunday which keeps both sides in with a chance of advancing to the quarter-finals.
Clinical first-half finishes by China duo Shao Jiayi and Mao Jianqing were matched by a Ferydoon Zahndi stunner before Javad Nekounam's 73rd-minute header completed the comeback.

China showed faith in the same starting XI that thumped Malaysia 5-1 in their opening game, while Iran, with coach Amir Ghalenoei watching from the stands after being sent-off during the victory over Uzbekistan, made only one change as Hossein Kaebi replaced Rasoul Khatibi.

In damp conditions at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, China raced out of the blocks and nearly took the lead after only 19 seconds when Han Peng, scorer of two against Malaysia, flashed an acrobatic overhead volley inches over the bar.

The early drama continued as a Zhang Zhi corner was fumbled by Iran goalkeeper Hassan Roudbarian and from the rebound Han found Zhang Yaokun, but the defender slashed his shot horribly wide.

The almost inevitable breakthrough came three minutes later when Roudbarian could only get a hand to Shao's free-kick after Nekounam fouled Han.

Mehdi Mahdavikia failed to find the target with a 25-yard free-kick before China, roared on by a small but noisy contingent of fans, nearly conceded an equaliser in bizarre fashion when Zandi's cross deflected off Han and went inches wide of China goalkeeper Li Lei Lei's right hand post.

Watched by their former head coach Bora Milutinovic, China stepped up the pressure on the three-time AFC Asian Cup winners by doubling the lead 12 minutes before the break.

Another stunning move saw Zheng's accurate delivery elude the onrushing Shao before finding its way to a completely unmarked Mao Jianqing, who rattled his shot past Roudbarian.

In stoppage time at the end a first half largely dominated by the energetic Chinese, Mahdavikia, who only seconds earlier had forced Li into a terrific diving save, rolled a free-kick to Zandi and with unerring precision found the net.

Having brought on Eman Mobali for Ali Karimi and Javad Kazemian, their match winner against Uzbekistan, in place of Hossein Kaebi at half-time, Iran started to press their opponents, with both Mobali and Vahid Hashemian trying their luck soon after the restart.

With the game becoming distinctly scrappy, China were content to defend deeper and soak up any pressure Iran could muster.

In the 70th minute, a dangerous-looking free-kick from Seyed Jalal Hosseini found Rahman Rezaei, but the Iran defender could only direct his header wide when well placed at the back post.

Iran's intense pressure eventually paid off just three minutes later as a right-wing cross eluded the China defence and Nekounam rose highest to head home past a helpless Li.

China responded quickly with Zhao, found by Zhu Ting, blasting a sweetly struck first-time volley only inches wide.
Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association




Korea's Verbeek Lashes Critics


Jul 19 2007 07:08

South Korea coach Pim Verbeek rounded on critics of his coaching style after seeing his side defeat Indonesia to earn a berth in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup.
A goal from Kim Jung-woo gave the Koreans a 1-0 win and that, coupled with Saudi Arabia's 4-0 thrashing of Bahrain, was enough to take the two-time champions into the knockout phase as Group D runners-up behind the Saudis.

Despite the win the Dutchman, who worked as assistant at the last two World Cups under Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat, was forced to respond to claims that his team are tactically one-dimensional.

"As far as I know we are in the next game and that was the target and in every game we have scored a goal," said the 51-year-old. "I'm not talking about other teams, only my team, my players and my tactics.

"We are not Manchester United, we are Korea with a very young team and I'm happy that we play with one system and we play very well."

Verbeek said his inability to understand the Korean language shielded him from the constant media attention and that his team was still targeting a first Asian Cup win for 47 years.

"One thing about being a foreigner in Korea is that you can't read the newspapers," he said. "I'm six years in Korea so I know the Korean people want to win and we said the goal was to win the Asian Cup.

"We are still in the race and everything is possible. I understand if there's criticism but that's part of the job."

While Verbeek eyes up a possible quarter-final match-up with Iran, Indonesia coach Ivan Kolev was left to reflect on a tournament of many positives for his side but which ultimately ended in elimination.

"There are so many lessons that we have learnt, I can't explain them all but I'm sure it will mean that we are a much better team in the future because of all the hard work we have done," said the Bulgarian.

"We started training two-and-a-half months ago and it was not enough time but hopefully we can stay in good shape and have a good team in the future."
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PostSubject: Re: News of Group A B C D   Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:18 pm

Iraq

Iraq through after drab draw

BANGKOK – Iraq reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup for the fourth successive tournament after their goalless draw with Gulf rivals Oman at the Supachalasai Stadium on Monday coupled with Australia’s 4-0 win over hosts Thailand saw Jorvan Vieira’s side finish top of Group A.

It wasn’t Iraq’s best performance in the competition but the point was enough to ensure that the Iraqis stay in Bangkok for and will face Vietnam, who finished second in Group B despite going down 4-1 to Japan earlier on Monday while Australia will take on the defending champions after their 4-0 win over hosts Thailand took them through to the last eight as Group A runners-up.

Oman, needing to win to have any chance of reaching the last eight, had the first chance of the match when Badar Mubarak played the ball through to Ismail Al Ajmi in space near the box but a combination of the slickness of the rain-soaked pitch and the alertness of Noor Sabri saw the Iraq keeper safely take possession.

Three minutes later Badar fired a low drive to the keeper’s right but Sabri got down well to save the effort before the Oman forward again released Al Ajmi but again Sabri was equal to the task.

The Iran-based keeper did give the pocket of Iraqi fans a minor scare when his momentum caused him to spill the ball outside of the area, although he recovered in ample time to clear the danger.

It was all Oman in the opening 20 minutes and but for a couple of unproductive corners Iraq struggled to find the attacking verve that saw them outclass Australia 3-1 in their previous Group A fixture.

With five minutes left to play Mahdi Karim’s acrobatic overhead set Iraq skipper Younis Mahmoud and Ali Al Habsi off on a race for the ball which the Bolton Wanderers keeper won with a timely header clear from outside his area.

Immediately after Fawzi Basheer should have opened the scoring after being set-up by Badar – easily the best player of a disappointing first half – but the midfield dynamo’s close-range angled shot was too tame to trouble Noor.

Oman pressed forward in the second half looking for the goal that would keep their Asian Cup dream alive but it was the Iraqis who had the first chance 15 minutes after the restart.

Mahdi Karim’s trickery took him past Issam Fayel allowing the midfielder to whip in a cross for Younis but the Iraq skipper, under pressure from two Oman defenders, headed wide.

The second half was punctuated by numerous free-kicks and from one of these Ahmed Hadid almost gave Oman a 62nd minute lead, but his curling effort was tipped over the bar by Noor.

Three minutes later Younis almost set up an unmarked Karrar Jassim, who came on at the end of the first half for the injured Hawar Mulla Mohammed, but the 2006/07 Qatar League’s top scorer under hit his square pass and the danger was cleared.

With ten minutes left to play Younis again had the chance to break the deadlock but his low strike was comfortably saved by Al Habsi.

Younis Al Mushaifri almost ensured Oman went out on a winning note but the substitute’s header three minutes from full-time flashed wide of Noor’s post before Imad Ali, one of a number of Omani players that Iraq coach Vieira groomed when the Brazilian was at the helm of the Gulf sultanate’s under 20s, saw a stoppage-time shot saved by Noor.
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