x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Ghotbi unhappy in China

The Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi has called on Chinese officials to be impartial in their next 2010 World Cup qualifier.

The Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi has called on Chinese officials to be impartial in their next 2010 World Cup qualifier, saying poor officiating led to a 1-0 friendly defeat to hosts China. Iran, warming up for this Saturday's vital qualifier against North Korea with a full-strength squad, were upset by Gao Lin's 47th-minute goal at the Qinhuangdao Olympic Stadium, their first loss to China in 15 years.

"The 1-0 result was unfair for us," Ghotbi said. "I hope the referees from China will treat us better in our next match in North Korea." Chinese officials are scheduled to oversee the North Korea-Iran match in Pyongyang, which the visitors have to win to prevent elimination. Iran then host the UAE on June 10. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan held Bosnia and Herzegovina to a surprising goalless draw in a friendly, ahead of their game at home to Japan on Saturday.

A win in Tashkent will confirm the Blue Samurai's fourth appearance in the World Cup while the Uzbeks, who are fourth in the Group A with four points, are in an unenviable position after their 2-0 defeat to Australia in the last qualifier. They need wins against Japan as well as Bahrain (June 17) to have any chance of qualifying. But even then, they must hope other results go their way if they are to finish third and gain a place in the play-offs.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada has already warned his players to take Uzbekistan seriously. "This won't guarantee us anything against Uzbekistan," he said after the former Asian champions beat Belgium 4-0 on Sunday to win the three-nation Kirin Cup. "We need to refresh our minds for the Uzbekistan game, and definitely come home with a victory." * Agencies