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Women watch as Cambodia hammered in Iran

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Iranian women cheer during the World Cup qualification match between Iran and Cambodia in Tehran on Thursday. afp

Women watch as Cambodia hammered in Iran

The Cambodian national football team travelled to Tehran on Thursday to take on an Iran side ranked No23 in the world in the third match of their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) second round World Cup qualification campaign.

The Angkor Warriors, 169th in the Fifa rankings, came seriously unstuck as Iran scored 14 goals without reply at the Azadi Stadium.

Cambodia were expecting to put up a fight, but Iran demonstrated why they are Asia’s highest-ranked team with a breathtaking display in front of 15,823 fans.

The game was a landmark occasion off the pitch as thousands of Iranian women were allowed to freely attend a game for the first time in decades.

Ahmad Nourollahi drew first blood in the fifth minute, after which Iran went on an offensive rampage, scoring seven goals in the first period.

The second half began with a strike from Karim Ansarifard in the 48th minute and continued in the same vein as the first with Ansarifard sealing the hammering with his fourth goal of the night two minutes from time to make it 14-0.

The Football Federation of Iran had released 3,500 tickets to be sold to women, all of which sold out within minutes, and some 1,000 more were allowed in at half-time.

The milestone came after Fifa had intervened to order Iran to allow women unrestricted access to stadiums.

The world governing body’s move followed the death of Sahar Khodayari who had set herself on fire in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran on September 2.

Khodayari, known as “Blue girl” because of the colours of the club she supported – Esteghlal FC – was protesting the ban against women attending matches and faced a possible sentence of six months in prison for disguising herself as a man to try and enter a stadium.

Next up for the Angkor Warriors is the visit of world No79 Iraq to Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.

The AFC second round of Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification also serves as the second round of qualifiers for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, where 24 teams will compete in China for the cup won last time round by Qatar in 2019.

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