Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
After securing the title four years earlier, AFC Asian Cup holders Israel were to come undone in Iran as the-afc.com reveals in the latest article in our series detailing the history of Asia's premier tournament.
The AFC Asian Cup finals stayed in the Middle East with the fourth edition of the tournament
taking place in Tehran in what began a period of dominance for Iran, who would go on to claim two more consecutive titles after a successful debut in the evolving continental competition.
The 1968 AFC Asian Cup finals witnessed an increase in participants with the number of teams contesting glory going from four to five, with hosts Iran being joined by defending champions Israel, Hong Kong, the Republic of China and Burma, who were also appearing in the finals for the first time.
Iran made a winning start to the competition but left it late to finally see off Hong Kong with Homayoun Behzadi netting the first top scoring four 70 minutes into the opening fixture at the Amjadieh Stadium, which was renamed the Shahid Shiroudi Stadium after the revolution of 1979, before midfielder Ali Jabbari sealed the 2-0 win with two minutes remaining.
Republic of China and Burma, now known as Chinese Taipei and Myanmar respectively, played out a 1-1 draw in the next fixture the following day. Lim Lushoor’s 63rd minute equaliser cancelled out Mong Halahati’s 13th minute opener in what was a disappointing AFC Asian Cup finals debut for the Burmese, who came to Iran as genuine title contenders having won gold at the 1966 Asian Games.
AFC Asian Cup holders Israel outlined their championship credentials as they began the defence of their continental crown with an emphatic 6-1 hammering of Hong Kong. Mordechai Spiegler (9th, 53rd), Giora Spiegel (52nd, 65th) and Moshe Romano (61st, 71st) all scored doubles while Yuan Kuan Yick scored a 76th minute consolation for the East Asians.
Behzadi joined the Israeli trio on two goals when he opened the scoring 31 minutes into Iran’s 4-0 win over the Republic of China, with Hossein Kalani (34th), Akbar Eftekhari (51st) and Gholam Hossein Farzani (56th) also getting their names on the score sheet before Burma put themselves back into contention with a 1-0 victory over Israel, courtesy of Suk Bahadur’s 42nd minute strike against the defending champions.
The Burmese needed to pull off another stunning result if they were to have any hopes of adding the AFC Asian Cup to their Asian Games title but Iran proved too strong for the South East Asians.
Kalani kicked-off Iran’s 3-1 win with just two minutes played and while Aung Khi equalised five minutes into the second half, Eftekhari’s strike on the hour mark and Behzadi’s 71st minute effort ensured Iran continued their 100% record.
Israel returned to winning ways in their penultimate match against Republic of China as Romano scored his second double of the campaign, scoring his third and fourth of the tournament in the second and 60th minutes either side of Zhuan Li’s 46th minute leveller. Shamuel Rosenthal (70th) and Spiegel (76th) sealed the 4-1 win that did the defending champions goal differential a power of good ahead of their showdown with Iran, who were two points ahead of the Israelis going into the final match.
Spiegel then joined team-mate Romano on four goals as Israel took a 56th minute lead against Iran, but Behzadi also struck his fourth of the campaign to emerge as tournament joint-top scorer with the Israeli duo as Iran drew level with quarter-of-an-hour left to play.
The point was enough to give the hosts the title but Parviz Ghelichkani settled the nerves of the 30,000 fans at the Amjadieh Stadium when the midfielder struck with four minutes remaining to make it 2-1 to Iran, a result that also saw Burma finish runners-up after their 2-0 defeat of Hong Kong a day earlier took their points tally to five, one more than deposed champions Israel.