News ID: 169666
Published: 0657 GMT October 02, 2016

Iran claims historic third place in FIFA Futsal World Cup

Iran claims historic third place in FIFA Futsal World Cup

Iran’s remarkable journey at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 ended on a high note, as it claimed third place after a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Portugal following a 2-2 draw in Cali on Saturday.

The Iranians came from two goals down to take the third-place match to a dramatic penalty shootout, where six rounds of spot kicks were needed to decide the contest, the-afc.com reported.

The first half had the feeling of a friendly contest, with both goalkeepers in Iran’s Alireza Samimi and Portugal’s Bebe being the standout performers in the opening period.

Both sides created a good opportunity to open the scoring. Ahmad Esmaeilpour had Iran’s best chance, but his chip over Bebe also sailed over the crossbar. At the other end, Samimi did well to deny Cardinal at close range.

Where the first half was fairly tepid, the second half came to life, as Cardinal scored a quick-fire brace within the first minute of the restart for Portugal. He showed great patience to beat the onrushing Samimi to open the scoring before combining with captain Richardinho to make it 2-0.

Cardinal then made a key defensive play to deny Ali Hassanzadeh’s shot, even though replays showed he may have used his arm to block the goal-bound effort.

Then an ugly melee that involved both sets of players in the Portugal half produced a pair of red cards, as Iran’s Mohammad-Reza Sangsefidi and Portugal’s Miguel Castro were given their marching orders.

It was at that stage that Iran turned the match around. Afshin Kazemi pulled the Asian champion back into the game with an assured finish before Mehdi Javid converted a second penalty past Portugal’s backup goalkeeper Vitor Hugo to send the contest to a penalty shootout after the fulltime whistle.

It required six rounds of penalties to decide this encounter. Iran’s backup goalkeeper Sepehr Mohammadi made a pair of big saves, but his teammates twice hit the woodwork with their spot-kick efforts.

Then after Portugal’s Joao Matos hit the post with his sixth-round penalty, Javid stepped up to convert his spot-kick and ensure Iran’s best-ever finish to a Futsal World Cup, surpassing its fourth-place accomplishment at Hong Kong 1992.

Following the match, Iran's coach Mohammad Nazemalsharieh said, "I'd like to congratulate Colombia, the organizers and all Iranians. There are 80 million of us who have enjoyed this World Cup. I'm the happiest person on earth given what we've achieved. After we beat Brazil we knew we could do more."

Also Portugal coach Jorge Braz noted, "We're proud but we're not happy because we could just as easily have won a medal. Our finishing was our weakness once again. The last game was a good example of how the team played throughout the entire tournament."

 

Argentina the champ

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Impressive resilience was the key to Argentina's maiden triumph in the final of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016. La Albiceleste twice hit back within seconds of Russia scoring, while its strong defense was also fundamental in ensuring its 5-4 win. The Eastern Europeans put the Argentinean goal under constant pressure, but were unable to carve out many chances.

 

Praises for Iran

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Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa offered his heartfelt congratulations to Iran for producing Asia’s best-ever performance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup after it beat Portugal on penalties to finish third.

“On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to congratulate the Islamic Republic of Iran for their spectacular displays, commendable resolve and consistency throughout the competition.

“As articulated in our Vision and Mission, Iran have proven that Asian teams cannot only compete but dominate the world’s biggest stages. I hope that Iran’s achievement will inspire more Asian teams to scale new heights in world futsal.

“Iran are now a dominant force in world futsal and their success in the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 is a testament to the culmination of years of hard work and commitment of everyone at the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Also Iran's President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the amazing achievement of his country's futsal team in FIFA Futsal World Cup to the Iranian nation as well as the members of the team.

In the Round of 16, Iran produced one of the biggest upsets after eliminating FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 winner Brazil, 3-2 on penalties, after a hard-fought 4-4 draw in extra time.

Later, Iran became the first Asian team since 1992 to reach the semifinals of the FIFA Futsal World Cup when it overcame a resilient Paraguay side 4-3 in the quarterfinal.

 

Individual awards

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The FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 most definitely saw a changing of the guard. The two giants of the global game, Spain and Brazil, were knocked off their perches and replaced in the final by Russia and Argentina. On an individual level, meanwhile, this edition of the tournament also witnessed stunning performances by renowned names and the emergence of a new crop of talents, whose own stars promise to shine brightly for many years to come. The members of the Technical Study Group (TSG) awarded the tournament’s individual prizes to the following players:

 

Golden Ball: Fernando Wilhelm (ARG)

 

It was a case of fourth time lucky for Fernando Wilhelm. After three previous World Cup appearances had each ended in frustration, the 34 year-old assumed the Argentinean captaincy for this year’s competition. And he could not have managed his new responsibilities any better. Wilhelm never shied away from raising his voice, using his uncanny sense of anticipation to snuff out counterattacks throughout the tournament. He dependably held his nerve at the key moments, while the Albiceleste’s strikers were particularly indebted to their captain’s keen eye for a telling pass. With his blend of perseverance, combativeness and tactical awareness, Wilhelm is an example to team-mates and rivals alike, and fully deserves the adidas Golden Ball at Colombia 2016.

 

Silver Ball and Silver Boot: Eder Lima, 10 goals (RUS)

 

Regardless of the stage, Eder Lima’s mission is always the same: to torment opposition defenses and keep the goalscoring charts ticking upwards in his favor. And throughout Colombia 2016, the Russian star fulfilled his role with distinction. With five goals in his first two matches, Lima successfully picked up where he had left off in 2012, when his nine strikes saw him finish as the tournament’s top marksman. He subsequently turned provider to his teammates, assisting eight of his team’s goals, before his predatory instincts took over once more in the final, even if his three strikes were ultimately made in a losing cause.

 

Bronze Ball: Ahmad Esmaeilpour (IRN)

 

Ahmad Esmaeilpour made his first tentative steps at a Futsal World Cup in Thailand 2012. Four years down the line, he is leaving Colombia on the back of a double achievement: Iran’s third place finish represents the country’s best showing at a Futsal World Cup, while Esmaeilpour himself has been named as the tournament’s third best player. Measuring well over six foot tall, this 28-year-old is the complete package. He has caused chaos throughout the tournament with his technique, movement and vision, not to mention his powerful long-range shooting, all combined with a ferocious desire to win that has carried the Team Melli to the podium for the first time in their history.

 

Golden Boot: Ricardinho, 12 goals (POR)

 

Emerging goalless from Portugal’s first encounter against Colombia, Ricardinho made up for lost time in his second outing by scoring six times in a 9-0 win over Panama. Having notched up another three goals in an easy win against Uzbekistan, the Portuguese star then set his team on the way to its first win in the knockout stages, scoring the first two goals in a 4-0 victory. He also left his mark in the clash with Azerbaijan, netting yet another goal. Boasting technique, power and skill, Ricardinho is the perfect blend of ruthlessness and elegance.

 

Bronze Boot: Falcao, 10 goals (BRA)

 

When it comes to Falcao, the figures say it all: Five World Cups, 34 matches and 48 goals. This legend of the game continues to set standards that will surely go unmatched for many years yet. As always, pretournament expectations were high for the Brazilian. Yet, just as predictably, he immediately proved himself more than up to the challenge, opening his account against Australia. Having signed off with yet another strike in his and Brazil’s final match against Iran, he ended up as the author of ten of the Seleçao’s 33 goals.

 

Golden Glove: Nicolas Sarmiento (ARG)

 

In Nicolas Sarmiento, Colombia 2016 saw the emergence of a goalkeeper who promises to be a fixture in the sport for years to come. Much like Argentina coach Diego Giustozzi, the TSG was won over by the 23-year-old’s outstanding raw talent. The fifth-youngest goalkeeper of the 55 present at the tournament, Sarmiento stood out thanks to his consistency, confidence and capacity to marshal the tournament’s most miserly defense. He ended Colombia 2016 with an impressive record of three clean sheets.

 

FIFA Fair Play Award: Vietnam

 

Vietnam not only provided a breath of fresh air in its first appearance at a World Cup, but it also demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship all the way up to its elimination at the hands of Russia in the Round of 16. The Vietnamese only picked up four yellow cards throughout the competition.

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Resource: the-afc.com
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