Sydney: Iraq were cleared to take their place in Monday`s Asian Cup quarter-final against South Korea after the Asian Football Confederation dismissed a protest from Iran.
Iraq beat their old foes 7-6 on penalties after the teams finished tied at 3-3 in Friday`s quarter-finals but Iran later submitted a formal protest, asking for the result to be overturned.
In the protest, Iran alleged that Iraqi midfielder Alaa Abdul-Zahra should have not been allowed to play because he had submitted a positive doping test while playing for an Iranian club side last year.
The Asian Football Confederation`s (AFC) Disciplinary Committee met in Sydney on Sunday to discuss the case while the Iranian team remained in Australia in case the verdict went their way.
On Sunday evening, the AFC announced the protest had been dismissed and Iraq would take their place against South Korea in the semi-finals.
"The AFC Disciplinary Committee from 2:30pm heard oral evidence from two officials of the I.R. Iran Football Federation, deliberated the matter based on its merits, and decided that the protest was unfounded. The protest was therefore dismissed," the AFC said in a statement.
"Due to the urgency of the matter, the terms of the decision were initially notified to the I.R. Iran Football Federation at 6:20pm. The full grounds of the decision will be communicated tonight in due course. The I. R. Iran Football Federation will have the right to file an appeal in accordance with the AFC Disciplinary Code."
It was not immediately clear whether Iran would lodge an appeal but the Iraq team said they were confident the case was closed.
"It`s over," a team spokesman told a news conference. "We play tomorrow."
Iraq team officials refused to answer questions about the case during their pre-game news conference at Sydney`s Olympic Stadium on Sunday, saying only that the matter was closed.
Midway through the conference, Iraq`s media`s officer Tarik Bejan announced that he had just received formal notification the protest had been dismissed.
"Our (FA) president met with them (the AFC) at 12pm and told them there is not a problem with the situation," he told reporters.
"We are relaxed. If the coach chooses him tomorrow then he will play."
The Iraqi coach Radhi Shenaishil dismissed the case as a ploy by Iran to get the result overturned. "It`s something they created." he said. "It hasn`t effected us in any way."
Shenaishil said he was more concerned about getting his team ready for the match after a short turnaround.
The odds were stacked against Iraq before the tournament started with the team unable to train together or play matches at home because of the war in their homeland.
But Iraq overcame similar obstacles to win the Asian Cup in 2007 -- beating South Korea in the semi-finals -- and Shenaishil said he was hoping for another miracle.
"There`s no secret," he said. "When you work together you can produce something great for your country.
"It`s a special situation, we know our country needs us to win... just reaching the semi-finals will inspire people and we hope to keep winning."