Football: Japan's Honda rips into Asian Cup referees

Palestine's Ahmed Mahajna (right) pulls on the jersey of Japan's Keisuke Honda during their Asian Cup Group D soccer match at the Newcastle Stadium in Newcastle on Jan 12, 2015. Honda tore into the standard of officiating at the Asian Cup, claiming t
Palestine's Ahmed Mahajna (right) pulls on the jersey of Japan's Keisuke Honda during their Asian Cup Group D soccer match at the Newcastle Stadium in Newcastle on Jan 12, 2015. Honda tore into the standard of officiating at the Asian Cup, claiming the Blue Samurai should have been given more protection from the referee after some agricultural tackling from the Palestinians.. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEWCASTLE (AFP) - Japan's Keisuke Honda tore into the standard of officiating at the Asian Cup, after the defending champions overpowered Palestine 4-0 in their opening game on Monday.

Qatari referee Abdulrahman Hussain dished out five cards to Palestine players for some over-exuberant challenges and also sent off Ahmed Mahajna - but clearly didn't go far enough, according to Honda, who likened the Group D meeting to a basketball game.

"It was like playing basketball," fumed the AC Milan player after the Newcastle clash. "I don't want to complain but something has to be done about the level of refereeing here.

"There's no point saying anything during the game because it's a waste of energy but every time we touched them it was a foul, just like basketball."

Honda, who scored Japan's third goal from the penalty spot but was way off target with two free kicks from dangerous positions, claimed the Blue Samurai should have been given more protection from the referee after some agricultural tackling from the Palestinians.

Ismail Alamour might have seen red after almost chopping Japan captain Makoto Hasebe in two with a karate kick, while Honda also felt his side should have had another penalty in the first half.

"There was hand-ball from a corner in the first 15 minutes that was a clear penalty, but whatever," shrugged Honda, who is not the first person to blast the referees at the Asian Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz and Oman boss Paul le Guen both criticised the quality of refereeing at Asia's showcase tournament after their opening games.