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Lebanon coach slams referee after Asian Cup defeat


Al-Ain (United Arab Emirates) (AFP) – Lebanon coach Miodrag Radulovic said his team were playing “against 12 or 13” as he slammed the referee in an extended rant after Wednesday’s Asian Cup defeat by Qatar.

Radulovic said Chinese referee Ma Ning had ruined Lebanon’s chances by ruling out a first-half goal which would have put them 1-0 up against the 2022 World Cup hosts.

Qatar eventually won the Group E game 2-0 after second-half goals from Bassam Al-Rawi and Almoez Ali, leaving Lebanon waiting for their first ever Asian Cup win.

“It’s difficult to talk after such a game because I teach my team to play 11 against 11 players, but (this was) 11 against 12 or 13, meaning the referees,” fumed the Montenegrin.

“When you play… perfect, tactically disciplined, you score 1-0 and they steal our goal, it’s very difficult to continue after that,” he added.

Ali Hamam’s volley on 39 minutes was ruled out for a shove by Lebanon’s George Felix Melki, a decision that enraged the animated Radulovic on the touchline.

Qatar finally got their breakthrough 20 minutes into the second half from a free-kick just outside the box which was given for Hassan Maatouk’s handball.

Radulovic claimed the officiating was “not 50-50”, saying that Qatar committed “more than 20 fouls” but did not receive any yellow cards.

“We played textbook football but we’re a poor country, we don’t have a budget like Qatar and you can’t compare with them on this,” Radulovic said.

“When they cancelled the goal, my players lost concentration, they lost confidence, they saw what happened and it was very difficult after that to continue with such a game,” he added.

“They broke our morale and our confidence.”

However, Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said he had no complaints about the officiating and that he agreed with the decision to disallow Lebanon’s goal.

“I think the goal was a foul. I saw the replay on TV… and I agree with (the officials),” said the Spaniard.

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