* General Secretary confident suspicions groundless
* Indonesian FA apologises for rout (Adds second statement, FIFA vice president quotes)
The Asian Football Confederation(AFC) has backed a FIFA investigation into Bahrain’s 10-0 WorldCup qualifying win over Indonesia in midweek, even though GeneralSecretary Alex Soosay later stated he was confident nothing wouldcome of it.
The mauling in Manama raised suspicion because Bahrainneeded a large turnaround to have any chance of reaching thefourth round of regional 2014 qualifiers.
Bahrain had to beat Indonesia, hope Qatar lost to Iran andalso make up a nine-goal difference on the 2022 World Cup hosts.
FIFA’s security department has launched a routine probe,which the AFC stated on Friday it supported and would “cooperateclosely with”.
Soosay later issued a second statement expressing his beliefthat the suspicions of foul play were groundless.
“I have read the media reports about suspicions ofmatch-fixing,” he said. “But I am confident that none of ourteams are involved in this. Bahrain were the better team bothtactically and technically.
“Moreover I have gone through the official reports of theAFC match commissioner and the match referee and they indicatenothing.”
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan – Asia vice president onthe FIFA Executive Committee – was keen to stress that whilematch-fixing should not be taken lightly, it was not just anissue for his region.
“It has to be taken very seriously regardless of what regionit is played in. It is a world issue, not just simply in theAsian region,” he told Reuters in London.
“We need to put as much resources as we can into this aspectof football and support those who are dealing with it in FIFA.
“The important thing is that if there are suspicions youhave to investigate it.
“It might just be a coincidence, however there might besomething behind it. Regardless, it can happen in any country inthe world.”
Bahrain’s 10-goal rout nearly sent them through but Qataradvanced after an 86th-minute goal gave them a 2-2 draw and thepoint they needed in Tehran to clinch second place in Group E.
Indonesia, already eliminated, fielded a inexperienced sideof mostly uncapped under-23 players after they were blocked bythe country’s federation from selecting their regular squadbecause they mostly play in the breakaway Indonesian SuperLeague.
The size of defeat marked a new low for Indonesian soccer,already torn apart by internal strife and political wrangling.
Indonesia completed bottom of Group E with no points,conceding 26 goals and scoring just three, the worst record ofthe 20 teams in the third round of Asian qualifying.
“We apologise to the people of Indonesia,” IndonesianFootball Association (PSSI) secretary general Tri Goestoro saidin a statement.
“The PSSI tried to pick the ideal players and aimed for thebest results for the last match. But Bahrain was clearly playingbetter and defeated us.”
PSSI national team coordinator Bob Hippy criticised Lebanesereferee Andre El Haddad for awarding Bahrain four penalties andsending off goalkeeper Samsidar in the second minute.
“Before the game, I heard rumours saying Bahrain would winbig and it happened,” stated Hippy. “How could the referee give somany penalties for Bahrain? He killed us.”
Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng demanded the PSSI end theinfighting, which nearly resulted in a FIFA ban last year.
“That is what we get if the officials keep fighting witheach other,” he said.
“They should put national football’s interests first. Theyneed to end the bickering right away. We’ve become the victimsof the league’s dualism.”
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