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Jul 15, 2007

Indonesians claim foul play led to defeat

JAKARTA, July 15 (Reuters) - Draped in national flags and red soccer uniforms, three busloads of irate Indonesian fans vented their fury at the Asian Football Confederation on Sunday, alleging biased refereeing led to a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia.

The fans, many of whom had travelled hours by bus and train on Saturday for the Group D game in Jakarta, carried banners saying 'AFC Go To Hell!' and 'AFC Referee Unfair'.

They claimed referee Ali Al Badwawi from the UAE favoured the Saudi Arabian side.

Two representatives of the supporters met with the AFC to discuss their issues, while the remainder milled around outside the luxury hotel, smoking cigarettes and joking with police and armed guards.

'We felt cheated by the referee,' Saiful Baqirok, who had made the 700-kilometre trip from Sidoarjo, East Java, said.

'I think it's because the referee is from United Arab Emirates. Why not choose one from Australia?'

The 35-year-old said Indonesian supporters were heartbroken by the loss and that they had expected their team to advance to the quarter-finals.

AFC officials were unavailable to comment on the demonstration.

Saudi Arabia scored the winning goal deep into stoppage time to silence the 88,000 crowd at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on Saturday.

The Saudis top Group D on four points, with Indonesia a point back in second. South Korea play Bahrain in the other group match later on Sunday.

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