Bahrain coach says 10-0 game was legitimate
Bahrain ''did nothing wrong'' in its 10-0 win over Indonesia in a World Cup qualifier that has sparked a FIFA probe, the team's national coach said Monday.
Peter Taylor, who managed England as caretaker in 2000, on Monday blamed the lopsided result in February on Indonesia playing an inexperienced side. He said no one from FIFA had contacted him and felt there was no point in discussing the match with football's world governing body.
''We did nothing wrong. There is no need for us to speak to FIFA,'' said Taylor, who was hired to coach Bahrain in July. ''At the end of the day, the game was played and we did as well as we possibly could and played the strongest team we could.''
Taylor criticized Indonesia for sending a team made up mostly of reserves and whose most experienced player - a goalkeeper - had only been capped 12 times.
''That shouldn't be done,'' he said. ''To respect the competition, they should send their strongest team. Just because they couldn't qualify, it doesn't mean they should send their reserve team,'' he said. ''Bahrain can't do anything about that. All we can do is turn up and try and win a match. We should have won by more than 10. We missed two penalties.''
FIFA said it plans to interview match referees, coaching staff and players during a probe of what it called an ''unusual'' match.
In the match, Lebanese referee Andre El Haddad sent off Indonesia's goalkeeper in the second minute and awarded Bahrain four penalties.
Bahrain's win raised suspicion because it went into the game trailing Qatar by three points and nine goals in group standings.
However, Qatar drew 2-2 with Iran in its final qualifying match to advance.
FIFA had written to Indonesian officials ahead of the match reminding them that World Cup rules require teams to field their strongest lineup.
Indonesia was expected to select an inexperienced team after suspending players from clubs in the breakaway Indonesian Super League.
It had lost all five previous group matches, conceding 16 goals while scoring just three.
The Asian Football Confederation has defended its member countries against any suspicions of match-fixing.
It issued a statement last week expressing confidence that the match was conducted properly, and that Bahrain was ''tactically and technically'' better.
Bahrain came into the 2014 World Cup qualifiers with high hopes, having just missed out on qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. But its campaign was beset by injuries, coaching changes and anti-government demonstrations that paralyzed the country and resulted in several top players being jailed and excluded from the team.
Bahrain finished the campaign with a record of two wins, three draws and one loss - a 6-0 drubbing by Iran. Taylor acknowledged the team ''blew it in World Cup qualifying'' but said he felt it had improved since his arrival.
''My plans are to stick with the team. I think we have made tremendous progress,'' he said. ''We have a young team and we have done very well.''
Taylor refused to discuss the status of several former players - including standouts Alaa and Mohammed Hubail - who were punished for taking part in the protests. At the mention of the protests, Taylor said ''Don't go there. You are getting boring.''
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