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Iran stay top in Asian qualifiers
Iran held to goalless draw against Thailand as Jordanian players go on the rampage after losing.
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2009 11:32 GMT

Thailand's Surat Sukha vies for the ball with Iran's Karim Bagheri [EPA]
Iran stayed top of Group E with a goalless draw against Thailand and Australia were held to a 0-0 draw with Indonesia in Asian Cup qualifying on Wednesday.

Singapore moved second in Group E with a 2-1 win over Jordan but relations were soured as Jordanian football players attacked their Singaporean counterparts in the tunnel after losing the qualifier.

Pim Verbeek's weakened Socceroos side could only manage a point against a determined Indonesia in their opening Group B match in Jakarta.

Violent behaviour

Dangerous striker Abu Casmir gave Singapore the lead on 21 minutes and Hatem Aqel levelled for Jordan close to the break.

The Lions grabbed the points just after the hour when prolific forward Noh Alam Shah picked up on a Daniel Bennett pass and slotted home from inside the area.

Jordanian football players attacked their Singaporean counterparts with bottles and broomsticks after losing the qualifier.

A witness at Singapore's national stadium heard loud shouts for police assistance moments after both teams had walked into a tunnel leading to their changing rooms, and saw police rushing into the tunnel.

"The Jordanians attacked with whatever they could find, like broomsticks, plastic bottles, dustbins and even a metal electric fan," the Straits Times paper quoted Singapore's team manager Eugene Loo as saying, after he witnessed the minute-long brawl.

The teams were escorted out of their changing rooms and into their buses separately afterwards, a witness said.

"I'm disappointed that the Jordanians resorted to violent behaviour.

"We were only walking back to our dressing room to celebrate our victory when they rushed out to whack us – they were totally crazy," the Straits Times quoted Singaporean midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin as saying.

Singapore, known for its lack of violence, also saw rare crowd trouble in the Asian Football Federation Cup semi-final match last month when Singaporean and Vietnamese fans clashed.

Tenacious Thai

Three-times champions Iran, who thumped Singapore 6-0 in their opening match, had to work hard for the point against a tenacious Thai side who attacked relentlessly.

The visitors almost went ahead 11 minutes into the match when Mageed Gholamnejhad's stunning volley from 30 metres was tipped onto the post by the Thai keeper.

The Thais came close to scoring through Datsakorn Thonglao and Suree Sukha and Suchao Nutnum, but their taller, stronger opponents stood firm against a second-half onslaught to secure the point.

"I said before the match this was going to be tough," Iran coach Ali Daei said.

"We didn't come here for a point, we wanted all three but my team played very well.

"We can't win all our games – this happens in football," added Daei, who is the world's all-time highest international scorer with 109 goals.

Thailand's English coach Peter Reid was happy.

"It was a tough game, but we're happy with the point, the players acquitted themselves very very well," he said.

Australia and Indonesia mistaking the game for rugby [EPA]
Australia held

Indonesia dominated their match with Australia, group leaders in World Cup qualifying, who struggled without their top European players.

"I don't think we deserved to win this game," Socceroos coach Verbeek said.

"The draw was the best result.

"I was looking for personal performances from the players, we had new players coming into the team."

Source:
Agencies
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