HA NOI (VNS) — The coaches of Japan and Iran are confident about their chances of winning the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Futsal Championship tonight in HCM City.
Coach Miguel Rodrigo insisted at a press conference yesterday that the defending champions Japan would be under no pressure and hoped they would repeat their success of two years and would triumph in this final as they triumphed over Thailand 6–1 in the final in the United Arab Emirates.
"I believe that tomorrow's match is the final that players and coaches are all waiting for," stated Spanish-born Rodrigo, who has no injuries or suspensions ahead of the match with the 10-time champions.
"We know each other really well, so I believe tomorrow will be a question of who is going to be better on the pitch. We have no pressure at all: to be able to play a final is not a punishment, it is a game to be played with enjoyment," Rodrigo was quoted as saying on the-afc.com.
"We need to take rest because the confrontation awaiting us will be a significant one, and Japan has never won in a back-to-back final match.
"I think it will be a game where several goals will be scored, and whichever team scores more will win the match. Knowing that Iran have many skilled players, we should defend hard and we have to fight hard to contain their attack; but only focusing on defence will not help us, we need to score goals and get into the rhythm of the game."
On the other side, coach Jesus Candelas of Iran stated that his team had yet to reach their full potential ahead of the finals while remaining cautious.
"We have prepared ourselves for tomorrow's match," he stated on the tournament's website.
"Our preparation for this match has been reflected by the way we have played during this tournament. We have not been at our best, but we are trying to be the best.
"At this point, we cannot put any limitations on ourselves, and tomorrow is the opportunity to ask the players to put in their best effort. There are two factors that will determine the result: first is the goalkeeper and second is the accurate shooting to score a goal."
In the past, Iran and Japan played against each other five times in the finals and Iran won all the matches.
In 12 tournaments, Iran who are the No 1 in Asia triumphed 10 times, while the defending champions Japan won twice.
The final match will be held at 7pm at the Phu Tho Gymnasium.
The play-off for the third position between Kuwait and Uzbekistan will commence some hours earlier at the same venue.
A successful tournament
Dato' Alex Soosay, the AFC general secretary, yesterday praised the Viet Nam Football Federation (VFF) for their great effort in organising the continental tournament and hoped that the federation will organise more such better events in the future.
Soosay landed in HCM City yesterday to be a part of the various activities on the sidelines of the championship and the final.
"Viet Nam has hosted many of the AFC competitions, and we had no doubt about their capabilities when we awarded them the hosting rights of these two top competitions," he pointed out.
He added that Viet Nam has again proved themselves as one of the best hosts in Asia and thanked VFF for their excellent efforts.
Soosay noted that Iran and Japan had made strong investment to comprehensively develop their futsal movements during the many years.
Their presence in the final match was a result they were worthy of enjoying after overcoming many challenges in the past.
He believed that through such matches, other members of the AFC can recognise the importance of futsal development.
Regarding Viet Nam, Soosay noted that some young players have impressed many spectators. He added that with the arrival of a new qualified coach Viet Nam will definitely prove their position in Asia in the next few years. — VNS