Wed, Aug 02, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Lebanon withdraws from qualifiers for Asian Cup

AP , KUALA LUMPUR

Lebanon has pulled out of the Asian Cup qualifiers for next year, citing turmoil from the ongoing conflict between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas.

The Asian Football Confederation released a statement yesterday saying its board would convene an emergency meeting to discuss the withdrawal letter sent by Lebanon Football Association General Secretary Rahif Alameh.

The AFC published a transcript of the letter sent on Monday by Alameh on its Web site.

In it, Alameh said Lebanon was "unable to proceed in our participation" in the tournament "due to the tragic circumstances our country and people are passing through as a result of the barbaric attack imposed on Lebanon by the Israeli Army."

"We assume you are totally aware of the enormous disaster that overwhelmed our country, where hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their unsafe houses evading from this war, among which are several of our Lebanese national team players," he said.

Lebanon drew 1-1 with Kuwait in its opening match on Feb. 22. It was due to play Bahrain on Aug. 16 and Australia on Aug. 31.

It also had home matches against Bahrain and Australia next month and in November.

The absence of Lebanon leaves Australia, which reached the second round at the World Cup before losing to eventual champion Italy, in the group with Bahrain and Kuwait.

An official from the AFC said that the management board will scrutinize the tournament's regulations before deciding how to handle Lebanon's withdrawal. He declined to provide further details.

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