The Asian Football Confederation has dismissed a protest from Iran over its quarterfinal loss to Iraq in the continental championship, saying the complaint over the eligibility of Alaa Abdulzehra was unfounded.

The AFC disciplinary committee held an emergency meeting Sunday, on the eve of the Asian Cup semi-final between South Korea and Iraq in Sydney. It gave Iran the opportunity to produce evidence to support its claim that Abdulzehra should have been disqualified for the quarter-finals last Friday due to an alleged doping infraction while he played for Tractor Sazi in in the Iranian domestic league.

The Iranian team should be better than that. If a team can't beat you on the pitch, it should not try to find other excuses

Alaa Abdulzehra, Iraq footballer

"The disciplinary committee heard oral evidence from two (Iran) officials, deliberated the matter based on its merits, and decided that the protest was unfounded,'' the AFC said in a statement.

The protest was, therefore, dismissed.''

In a dramatic quarter-final, Iran twice scored equalisers in extra-time to for a draw before losing 7-6 in a penalty shootout to the 2007 Asian Cup champions.

Abdulzehra denied he was subject to any doping sanctions, and Iraqi football federation chief Abdul Khaliq Masood said the midfielder's position in the team shouldn't be in dispute.

"This case should not be raised," Abdulzehra said. "Since I started playing football I don't have any issue like this, I never drink anything illegal, and if I need to take any (medication) I always ask the team doctor.

"The Iranian team should be better than that. If a team can't beat you on the pitch, it should not try to find other excuses.''

Source: AP