AFC move Saudi-Iran Champions League ties to neutral venues

AFC move Saudi-Iran Champions League ties to neutral venues
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Published March 17th, 2016 - 13:32 GMT via

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Saudi, Iranian football teams to play at neutral venues amid tensions
Saudi, Iranian football teams to play at neutral venues amid tensions

Saudi Arabian clubs will play Champions League matches against Iranian teams at neutral venues this year because of the lack of improvement in relations between the two countries, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said Wednesday.

The AFC, soccer’s governing body in the region, had set a March 15 deadline for "normal relations" to be resumed between the countries or the matches would be played at neutral venues.

"There has been no significant development in the relationship between the two countries concerned," the AFC said in a letter to the governing bodies of both countries.

The Iranian football federation objected to the AFC directive in a statement released via the Tasnim news agency Wednesday.

"Football Federation of Iran will send a letter to AFC to announce its objection," it said.

The AFC last month pushed back six group-stage Saudi-Iran fixtures to allow more time for independent evaluations on safety and security issues.

The Saudi Arabian and Iranian FAs have been given until March 25 to "provide comprehensive details of the proposed neutral venues," the AFC said.

Ahli beaten

Omar Abdulrahman scored off a freekick to give host Al-Ain a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli in the Asian Champions League in Al-Ain Wednesday.

The United Arab Emirates international scored with 19 minutes remaining to give Al-Ain its first win of the campaign after back-to-back losses against El Jaish had left the 2003 champion facing a serious challenge to advance to the knockout rounds.

Earlier, Brazilian striker Adriano scored two as FC Seoul remained undefeated in ACL with a 4-1 win over Chinese club Shandong Luneng.

Adriano scored in the 27th minute when he converted Yojiro Takahagi’s looping cross from the left. Jucilei equalized for the host in the 62nd with a header that beat FC Seoul goalkeeper Yoo Hyun, but Go Yo-han put the visitors ahead in the 65th and Dejan Damjanovic widened the lead three minutes later.

The visitors sealed the win with 19 minutes remaining as Damjanovic squared the ball for Adriano to slot into an empty net.

Al Nassr holds Lekhwiya

Ibrahim Ghaleb’s 88th minute penalty sealed a share of the points for Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in a 1-1 draw with Lekhwiya in their 2016 AFC Champions League Group B meeting on Wednesday.

Alain Dioko netted seven minutes into a first half dominated by last season’s Qatar Stars League champions but Ghaleb’s late equaliser from the spot ensured Raul Caneda’s side took a deserved share of the points.

The draw means Al Nassr are level with Iran’s Zobahan on five points from three games while Lekhwiya are still waiting for their first win of the 2016 campaign and are alongside Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor on two points.

Elsewhere, Sanfrecce Hiroshima FC of Japan blanked Buriram United of Thailand 3-0, Sydney FC of Australia edged Pohang Steelers of South Korea 1-0, China’s Guangzhou Evergrande was held by Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan 2-2, Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan and Zob Ahan of Iran drew goalless and Al-Jaish of Qatar defeated Nasaf Qarshi of Uzbekistan.

Al-Ittihad Club chairman suspended and fined

The Disciplinary Committee of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has suspended Al-Ittihad Club Chairman Ibrahim Al-Bluwi from accompanying his team for four official matches.

The decision comes into effect as of the date of its issuance and he will also be fined SR20,000. He can also appeal the decision.

The committee said Al-Bluwi made insulting remarks against the officials during the match between Al-Ittihad and Al-Wehda.

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