Good job, says AFC boss even as referees take flak
ASIAN Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa has ignored the complaints of players and coaches about the standard of officiating at the Asian Cup, and praised the work of the referees.
Accompanied by AFC general secretary Alex Soosay, the Bahraini met officials in Sydney on Tuesday, a day after Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda slammed the performance of the Qatari referee in their 4-0 win over Palestine.
"Shaikh Salman relayed his trust in the referees' ability and his hope that they would continue their positive contributions to the tournament, something which would greatly help further enhance the reputation of referees in Asia," the AFC posted in a media release.
Honda had described Abdulrahman Hussain's style of officiating as "basketball-like" after what he felt was another substandard performance by Asian referees at the show piece.
Hussain dished out five yellow cards and one red card to the Palestinians, who produced some rough-and-tumble tackles in Newcastle, with Ismail Al Amour fortunate not to be sent off after a studs-in-the-chest challenge.
"I don't want to complain, but they have to change something about the level of referees," Honda was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.
"During the game, I don't want to say that because I don't want to waste my energy, but it was like basketball, right? If we touched their bodies, it was a foul."
Honda's compatriot, Ryuji Sato, also had a poor game officiating Australia's 4-0 win over Oman on Tuesday.
The Japanese referee only booked Ahmed Mubarak for a dangerous two-footed lunge on Tim Cahill in the first half, while he questionably pulled back play for a penalty to the hosts despite Mark Milligan already putting the ball in the net.
Iran boss Carlos Queiroz also voiced his complaints that Australian official Ben Williams, the 2013 AFC referee of the year, allowed too many strong tackles in their 2-0 win over Bahrain.
"I was not happy because after nine, 10, 12 fouls, stopping the game systematically. The referee must take action," the former Portugal and Real Madrid boss said.
"For a referee so quick to show a yellow card when one of my players didn't hear the whistle, I was completely surprised that when he sees Bahrain's negative game after 10 fouls in a row, he didn't give them a single yellow."