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Soccer: Maldivians Scare IR Iran
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IR Iran offered the top action this evening with some impressive runs and fine goals, but their Maldivian opponents proved no walkover and in several runs they caused alarm for the Iranians, finally securing a goal. Their efforts were to no avail, however, and the Maldives lost 3–1.

DPR Korea and Syria continued their struggle, but their match remained a deceptively goalless draw. The action was faster and more furious than that scoreline suggests. China and Iraq played a highly competitive game, but Iraq was unable to overcome their opponents even though the Chinese were only fielding 10 men in the second half.

DPR Korea v Syria 0–0  – The goalless draw at half time masked fast and furious play. Both teams shared equal possession. Both teams had two shots on goal, but in the first 45 minutes both failed to finish. Syria maintained greater attacking pace, but going into the second half the game was wide open.

DPR Korea and Syria continued their titanic struggle into the second half and the match remained goalless, despite some intense football. DPR Korea made some superb and well supported runs towards the Syrian goal. The No 15, Yong Jun Kim, made an impressive run, passing four Syrian defenders and shooting on goal, but the shot went over. Despite the rapid, intense, competitive play from both teams neither could get an edge.

At the Qatar Sports Club Stadium on 3 December Syria will now play Japan at 17:15, DPR Korea plays Pakistan at 19:45.

IR Iran v Maldives 3–1  – IR Iran lost no time opening accounts in the first half with a goal in the 15th minute from a screaming shot by No 10 Arash Borhani, after he received a pass from No 6 Behshad Yavarzadeh Ahrandjani.

Later, in the 22nd minute, Maldives No 6 Mohamed Arif committed a foul on Arash Borhani, unwisely giving IR Iran’s No 8, Mazyar Zare Eshghdoost a free kick which he shot directly at goal to put his team 2–0 up. IR Iran continued to attack, but the Maldivians held them off until the half time whistle.

The half opened with a tremendous run by Maldives No 5 Ibrahim Fazeel, streaking through the defenders to deliver a powerful shot that barely sailed over the IR Iran goal. The Maldives continued to take the match into Iran’s half at every opportunity, defending ardently whenever IR Iran attacked.

In the 78th minute their efforts paid off and the Maldives No 9 Ashad Ali picked up a goal when the IR Iran 'keeper, Hassan Roudbarian, missed a slowly rolling ball 10m from the goal mouth. Ali sprinted around the flailing keeper to tap a goal into the wide-open goalmouth.

IR Iran responded immediately with a charge on the Maldivian goal that just failed to score. But they persisted and in the 86th minute the No 19 Adel Kolahkaj scored after a great save by Maldivian keeper Imran Mohamed left the ball in play.

The Maldives play will now play India at at Al-Sadd Football Stadium on 3 December at 17:15 while IR Iran plays Hong Kong, China, at 19:45.

China v Iraq 1–0 – China attacked powerfully from the off and after just seven minutes their No 20, Haibin Zhou, scored. The score didn’t reflect the tightness of the game, with Iraq replying with some powerful forays into Chinese territory, but they were unable to complete any of the strong runs they made.

In the closing minutes China’s No 17 Ke Zhang was sent off after a second booking for a late challenge and China go into second half with just 10 men.

Iraq opened the second half in fine attacking form, determined to capitalise on China’s loss of a player, and the Middle East squad made many fine attacks on their opponent's goal. But the Chinese made some attacking runs too and in the 54th minute No 11 Ting Zhu stormed towards the Iraqi goal line, but was unable to finish his run.

In the end, though, Iraq was unable to equalise even though China were playing with10 men on the field, and China earned this win.

China will now play Malaysia at at the Al-Arabi Football Stadium on 3 December at 17:15 while Iraq plays Oman at 19:45.

( November 30, 2006)

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