Tue, Nov 28, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Iraq replaces suspended Iran in Asian Games pool

AP , DOHA

Mohammed al-Abdulla carries the Asian Games torch past Qatar's al-Zubara Castle on Sunday on Day 50 of the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006 torch relay. The torch has been carried 50,000km through 15 countries.

PHOTO: EPA

Iraq's chances of reaching the Asian Games soccer quarterfinals got a shot in the arm after it replaced suspended defending champion Iran as the seeded Pool D team in the second round draw.

The soccer second round kicks off tomorrow ahead of Friday's official opening ceremony.

Palestine withdrew from the men's volleyball competition ahead of the team's opening qualifier.

While no reason for the withdrawal has yet been released, Palestinian athletes have missed two sporting events this month -- the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled and an Asian Cup soccer qualifier at Sing-apore -- because of difficulties encountered traveling out of the Gaza Strip due to heightened political tension in the territory.

Member independence

Soccer world governing body FIFA on Wednesday suspended Iran from international soccer for failing to reinstate its elected president, Mohammed Dadgan, and comply with FIFA statutes regarding the independence of member associations.

Iran won the Asian Games title in 1974, 1990, 1998 and 2002.

Iraq was one of eight teams which did not contest the 2002 Asian Games and were forced to qualify for the main draw.

Last week's withdrawal of Yemen and Turkmenistan from the second round of the under-23 tournament means five of the eight teams have progressed.

Iraq is now grouped with Hong Kong, India and the Maldives in Group D. In the qualifying round one, Iraq trounced India 6-0.

Jordan replaces Yemen in Group C, joining Thailand, Kuwait and Palestine, while Kyrgyzstan takes Turkmenistan's place in Group F with Japan, North Korea and Pakistan.

Reserved berths

Tajikistan and Syria fill the berths originally reserved for the round one qualifiers.

Tajikstan joins Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan in Group A, and Syria lines up against China, Oman and Malaysia in Group E.

Group B remains unchanged from the original schedule and includes South Korea, Bahrain, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

The top team from each group, along with the top two runners up, will advance to the quarterfinals.

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