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AFC Asian Cup

Top five controversial moments from AFC Asian Cup 2023

Published at :February 12, 2024 at 7:30 PM
Modified at :February 12, 2024 at 7:30 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

Yash Pratap Singh


Some events during the AFC Asian Cup really took the fans by surprise!

The 2023 AFC Asian Cup produced some eye-catching moments in the last one month or so in Qatar. The flagship tournament saw the 2019 Asian Champions and hosts Qatar defend their crown and lift the trophy for a successive time.

The tournament began with 24 teams in January, but it all came down to the final between the underdogs Jordan and the title favorites Qatar. The Maroons displayed their best brand of football and claimed Asia’s ultimate prize yet again.

It was a showcase event, without a shadow of a doubt. But, it did have its fair share of controversies. On that note, let us take a look at the top five controversial moments from the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

5. Roberto Mancini walks away before conclusion of the penalty shootout

Top five controversial moments from AFC Asian Cup 2023
Roberto Mancini on the touchlines during the South Korea game. (Courtesy: AFC)

It so happened that Saudi Arabia’s manager Roberto Mancini walked down the tunnel before the conclusion of the penalty shootout in his side’s RO16 clash against South Korea. Saudi Arabia scored their first two and missed their third and fourth penalty before Mancini decided to walk off.

It seemed as if the Euro 2020 winning head coach did not wish to see South Korea’s winning penalty against his side. He later apologized for his actions during the post-match press conference and said that he thought the game was finished.

4. ‘Death to Israel’ chants surround the stadium in the match between Iran and Palestine

Things unfolded very unexpectedly as Iran took the field against Palestine in their curtain raiser at the Education CIty Stadium. Ahead of the match, an announcement requested for silence “in memory of the lives tragically lost as a result of the ongoing situation in Palestine” as both sides lined up in the middle of the pitch.

And as soon as the game began, Iranian fans started chanting ‘Death to Israel’ as their team took control of the game. The game marked 100 days of the Israel-Hamas war. Iran won the game 4-1 while their supporters continued to sing chants against Israel.

3. VAR Drama in Saudi Arabia match against Oman

Saudi Arabia’s opening game against Oman brought a lot of drama and confusion to the table. Oman opened the scoring in the 14th minute after Salaah Al-Yahyaei scored from the spot. Oman did pretty well to hold on to a highly ranked Saudi Arabia side for the majority of the game. The Green Falcons did fight back and restored parity in the 78th minute after Abdulrahman Ghareeb found the back of the net. 

But, what happened after that is where the real drama lies. In the 96th minute, Ali Albulayhi scored from a corner, but was flagged offside by the assistant referee and VAR. The game was restarted with a goal-kick to Oman before the referee stopped play again, and awarded a goal to Saudi Arabia.

2. Three penalties for Qatar, all in the final

Top five controversial moments from AFC Asian Cup 2023
Afif celebrating one of his goals in the final. (Courtesy: AFC)

More than 86,000 people including Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani were in attendance at the iconic Lusail Stadium as Qatar took to the pitch against Jordan with the objective to defend their crown and win their second AFC Asian Cup title. The Maroons were awarded three penalties in the final which eventually helped them clinch the trophy. Akram Afif was brought down inside the box early in the game before he opened the scoring from the spot in the 22nd minute. 

Jordan were given a small lifeline as Yazan Al-Naimat restored parity for his side. Later on Ismail was brought down inside the box and the referee refused to give a penalty before having a VAR check. Qatar were eventually awarded another penalty and Akram Afif made no mistake yet again. VAR was yet again called into action after Akram Afif was brought down by the Jordan keeper in the dying minutes of the game. The winger scored his third goal and completed his hat-trick. 

1. Iraq’s forward sent off for goal celebration

Iraq’s RO16 clash against Jordan gained a lot of traction for everything that happened during the game. Jordan striked first in Yazan Al-Naimat before Iraq restored parity with a goal from Saad Natiq. Iraq then took the lead, thanks to a goal from Aymen Hussein. But, that is where the game changed completely.  Hussein celebrated by sitting down on the pitch. 

He copied Jordan’s celebration and that did not go down well with the Iranian referee, Alireza Faghani who showed him a second yellow card and gave him his marching orders. The striker’s sending off gave Jordan an edge in the match as they managed to get the better of Iraq. Pundits and enthusiasts believe if Iraq had 11 players on the pitch, may be Jordan wouldn’t have gone through.

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