x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE Olympic team awarded win after Fifa find Iraq guilty

UAE equal on points with group leaders Uzbekistan after Iraq penalised for fielding an ineligible player, football's governing body change the 2-0 loss to a 3-0 win.

Jasim Faisal, right, picked up his second yellow card of the campaign against Australia, but played the following week against the UAE.
Jasim Faisal, right, picked up his second yellow card of the campaign against Australia, but played the following week against the UAE.

The UAE’s bid for a berth in the London 2012 Olympic football tournament received a significant boost today when Fifa ruled that Iraq must forfeit a 2-0 victory over the Emiratis from November, sending the UAE to the top of Group B, with Uzbekistan.

Iraq had won the match in Al Ain 2-0, but Fifa’s disciplinary committee found that the Iraqis used an ineligible player in that game and have awarded a 3-0 victory to the UAE.

“This sort of thing happens; it is football everywhere,” said Yousuf Abdullah, general secretary of the Football Association. “Sometimes you get help from the referee and sometimes you get help from somewhere else.

“We are happy, and this puts our team in the right direction for the Olympics.”

The winner of Group B qualifies directly for the London 2012 Games. The UAE have never played in the Olympic football competition, and a London berth would rank second in importance in the nation’s footballing history behind only the 1990 World Cup appearance in Italy.

The new table: Uzbekistan 8 points (plus-4), UAE 8 points (plus-4), Australia 3 points, Iraq 1 point.

Faisal Jasim, a defender, was the Iraq player ruled ineligible for the November 27 match with the UAE. He had received a caution against Iran in the final game of the previous round of London qualifying, and picked up another against Australia on November 22.

“Iraq have the right to appeal, but it may have already been heard, and I don’t know if they have a chance,” said Abdullah. “Fifa has the information from the report of the referees and the registration of the game online.”

The extra three points only confirm how crucial was the UAE’s 1-0 victory over Iraq at Doha on Sunday; at the time, the UAE were last in the group, on two points.

The final two qualifying games become even more important, versus Australia at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on February 22, and away to Uzbekistan on March 14. The Uzbeks play Iraq in Doha on February 22, with Iraq no longer able to advance.

“We now concentrate on Australia,” the general secretart said. “The match is very important.”

The second-place finisherin Group B advances to a three-team AFC playoff in Vietnam in March, with the survivor facing Senegal in Coventry, England, on April, and the winner also qualifying for London 2012.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae