Iran suffered another setback to its World Cup hopes on Monday, drawing 0-0 at home to the United Arab Emirates, the dpa reported.
It was another disappointing performance by Iran who were lucky not to lose to a disciplined UAE team in front of 30,000 spectators at Tehran's Azadi stadium.
The young team of coach Ali Daei was unable to penetrate the well- marshalled UAE defence and badly missed stars like Ali Karimi and German legionnaires Mehdi Mahdavikia and Vahid Hashemian.
Fans chanted slogans against Daei, who is considered by many experts to lack the experience to guide the squad through the sensitive qualification phase for the 2010 finals.
Karimi was initially dropped for indiscipline after describing the current make-up of the Iranian Football Federation as the weakest he has witnessed in 10 years with the national team.
But following protests by fans and intervention by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Bayern Munich midfielder was recalled to squad only to miss the match through injury.
Iran has so far gained only three points from three games in what was considered one of the easiest of the Asian groups. It still has to play the UAE in Abu Dhabi, Syria in Damascus and Kuwait at home.
The top two teams in the group qualify for the next round.