|The more physical and experienced Iran were too much for Việt Nam to handle. — Photo VFF|
KUWAIT CITY — Việt Nam are out of the 2023 AFC Futsal Asian Cup after an 8-1 defeat to Iran in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Playing against the team ranked sixth in the world, World Cup-winning coach Diego Giustozzi Raul opted for experience. World Cup heroes Hồ Văn Ý, Châu Đoàn Phát, Nguyễn Minh Trí and Nguyễn Anh Duy all started the match.
Việt Nam have played against Iran once before, a 16-1 thrashing in the semifinals of the 2016 AFC Futsal Championship. The Islamic Republic has always reached at least the top four since the championship started.
Iran started to apply pressure on Văn Ý's goal from the get-go. Aghapour tried a long-range effort, but the shot was wide at the mark.
Had it not been for Hồ Văn Ý's heroic efforts, Việt Nam might have conceded early. The 2021 Việt Nam Futsal Golden Ball winner made a double save in the 3rd minute to deny both Oladghobad and Tayebi. Seconds later, Aghapour was free and looked set for a tap-in, but Văn Ý pulled off a miraculous save.
Việt Nam also had a chance of their own. In the sixth minute, Thịnh Phát stole the ball from an Iranian defender and set up a two-on-one attack. Phát, however, was selfish and took the shot on his own, which went straight at the keeper.
Phát's golden opportunity was the only one to go Việt Nam's way in the first half, as the enormous Iranian pressure finally gave them the opening goal they had been chasing.
In the seventh minute, from a corner, captain Tayebi volleyed a screamer into the top of Văn Ý's net to make it 1-0 for Iran.
As most close-range efforts from Iran could not pierce through the Vietnamese defence, coach Vahid Shamsaei instructed his players to utilise long-range shots instead.
The change in tactics worked wonderfully, as Iran scored two goals in just 90 seconds, both in similar fashion. First, Aghapour doubled the scoreline from the centre circle after distracting Quốc Nam and Thịnh Phát, then, mere moments later, Rafaiei Pour scored Iran's third goal with another long-range effort.
The curled shot was deflected off Nhan Gia Hưng and was too hard for Văn Ý to keep out.
With nothing left to lose, Việt Nam switched to power plays and tried to pressure the Iranian defence with Phạm Đức Hòa, an outfield player playing as a goalkeeper.
The tactics slowed Iran's pace but did not create any dangerous chances for the men in red. Moreover, Việt Nam conceded a fourth goal in the 16th minute, when Thịnh Phát's cross was intercepted by Tayebi, who lobbed the ball from his own half into the empty net.
Iran brought on their substitutes in the second half, having had a comfortable lead. Asia's number one futsal team, however, still scored four goals in the second half.
In the 25th minute, Karimi's corner reached Bazyar, who was free on the second post and tapped in the empty net. Three minutes later, Mạnh Dũng's stray pass was intercepted by Oladghobad, who went through on goal and scored the sixth goal for Iran with a powerful shot.
Captain Tayebi completed his hat-trick in the 33rd minute to make it 7-0. Abbasi then furthered the scoreline to eight after stealing the ball from Gia Hưng.
Việt Nam got their consolation goal after a great one-touch play between four players that finished with a cross from Gia Hưng to Đức Hòa to tap in at the far post. Hòa's goal was also the final kick of the match, which ended in 8-1 to Iran.
While coach Giustozzi did not celebrate, the few Vietnamese fans in the Saad Al Abdullah Hall joyfully clapped for their team, who were knocked out of the tournament. Iran will progress to another semifinal and will face either Thailand or Tajikistan on Thursday for a place in the final. — VNS