Iran 1 Syria 0
Amman, Juune 2, 2000 -- Before the final of the inaugural West Asian
Championship, in the Jordanian capital Amman, Syria's Yugoslav manager
Bozidar Vukotic had warned that his weakened side's only chance was to
score first. They didn't, and as Vukotic predicted Iran had few problems
holding on to the lead given to them by Sohrab Bakhtiarizadeh in the 36th
Sohrab's low free kick, which seemed to catch the Syrian keeper Mohammad
Bairouty by surprise, was Iran's only reward for a first half in which
they created all the clear-cut chances.
In the 21st minute Ali Karimi had shown exactly why he is likely to
be the next Iranian to move to a European club as he jinked past three
defenders before firing a right-footed shot which Bairouty gratefully pushed
over the bar. And five minutes later Iran appeared unlucky not to have
been awarded a penalty when Bashar Srour appeared to handle a delightful
chipped pass by Behrouz Rahbarifar, which belied his role as a central
At the other end Syria's lively attack occasionally exposed Iran's captain,
the Sturm Graz defender Mehrdad Minavand but with the exception of Mohammad
Khalef's low cross which Parviz Brouman did well to grab before Mohammad
Yousef pounced, Iran's central defenders were rarely stretched.
In the second half Iran, whose side was made up largely of Olympic team
players, were happy to take control and let the pace of the game drop.
Committing few numbers in attack their chances were rarer although Rasoul
Pak Khatabi should have done better in the 50th after tournament MVP Ali
Karimi skipped past two tackles and squared to him. So should Javad Nekounam
10 minutes later as he ended Rasoul's cross-field run by shooting over.
The Syrians rarely threatened an equaliser, although substitute Maher
Saed did hit the top of the cross bar with a speculative shot from an acute
angle. Then in the dying seconds a golden chance slipped under the boot
of Hassan Aloebrahim and Syria were condemned to their third 1-0 defeat
in the four encounters between the two sides in the space of just two months.