The Maldives’ soccer coach has blamed a disputed penalty decision for flared tempers after his team’s 1-0 loss to India which saw a player assault the referee and police called in to restore calm.
Players charged at referee Idham Mohammad at the end of the second semi-final of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) tournament in Kathmandu on Monday.
Maldives defender Ali Umar was red-carded after the game for the fracas which also saw organizers pushed after they rushed on to the field to protect the officials.
The country’s coach Istavan Urbanyi said his players were angry at the referee for denying his team a penalty in the second-half before India clinched victory through Arnab Mondal’s 85th minute goal.
“As for the players, it was a very emotional thing for them. I am not saying it was the right thing to do, but the players were emotional and angry,” he said in a post-game press conference.
India take on Afghanistan in today’s final. The Afghans defeated hosts Nepal 1-0 in Sunday’s first semi-final.
Afghanistan will likely miss defender Farzad Ghulam, who is recovering from a mild heart attack suffered on the pitch. The 43-year-old fell unconscious and needed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation before an ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.
Tournament official Narendra Shreshta said that Ghulam had been kept in hospital for observation, but added that doctors had confirmed he was out of danger.