HCM CITY (VNS) — Iran demonstrated another electrifying attacking performance to crush Uzbekistan 10-0 in their semi-final of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Futsal Championships to set up a mouth-watering final against defending champions Japan in the final tomorrow.
Hossein Tayebi and Vahid Shafiei each scored hat-tricks, while Alireza Vafaei, Asghar Hassanzadeh, Ahmad Esmaeilpour, and Mohammad Shafari each scored one to help the 10-time champions to their third win in the competition where they have scored at least 10 goals.
Iran have scored a total of 50 goals in five games and conceded just six, four of which came against Viet Nam.
"We have tried our best in every match to reach the highest levels of the futsal game and we did that against Uzbekistan today as in previous matches," Iran coach Jesus Candelas said in the post-match press conference.
Candelas avoided talking about Japan's strong points ahead of the final.
"They won the title two years ago and we want to reclaim it this year. It will be a psychological and tactical game. We will have had good preparations for the match," the Spaniard added.
In the previous semi-final following a slow and lacklustre first half that ended 1-1, the second half saw defending champions Japan put five past Kuwait to win 6-1.
Inaba Kataro put Japan ahead five minutes after the opening whistle but Mohammad Mohammad levelled the match five minutes from the break.
Akira Minamoto put Japan ahead again just seconds after half-time before Kotaro scored his second to extend the lead to two goals. Kuwait were forced to take a chance and replaced their goalkeeper with an outfield player, but the gamble backfired and Japan easily caught their opponents on the counter-attacks to add three more goals.
Osodo Nobuya scored two goals to make it 5-1 and Hoshi Shota scored Japan's sixth goal to complete a comprehensive victory for the two-time champions.
"At half time, we talked about a couple of specific things but mostly about relaxing because we had a lot of possession in the first half but we did get to attack. We changed tactics in the second half and tried to attack the Kuwait goal, and we scored," Japan's Spanish coach, Miguel Rodrigo, said in the post-match press conference.
Kuwait coach Fonseca said: "Our players started nervously in the first half but were able to get back into the game."
"We conceded early goals in the second half and we wanted to recover but we were caught at the back and conceded more goals. Japan deserved the victory and I congratulate them," he said.
Iran and Japan have met each other in six finals and Iran have come out on top on all six occasions. Not surprisingly, the team from the Middle East are favourites for tomorrow's final.
This is the seventh final for Japan, who won the tournament in 2006 and 2012, while it is Iran's 11th appearance. Iran have gone on to win the tournament 10 times, beating Japan in the final on five occasions. — VNS