0407 GMT November 18, 2019
With both teams having clinched their spots in the quarterfinals, Giti Pasand and Shriker Osaka were battling for Group C supremacy. Adding to the mix, with no way of predicting the outcome of their Group D opponents which only play today, both sides knew a victory would increase their chances of avoiding competition heavyweight and current Group D leader Bluewave Chonburi, the-afc.com reported.
Giti Pasand boasts the more decorated trophy cabinet, but it was Shriker Osaka which took the lead with virtually the game’s first chance through Sota Shibano inside 57 seconds.
It took Giti Pasand just three minutes to respond after Ali Asghar Hasanzadeh’s driving effort was redirected by Mohammad Zarei who made no mistake from close range.
The 2012 champion was beginning to find its rhythm, reaping its reward six minutes later when Osodo gifted possession, rather uncharacteristically, to Zarei who was just meters away from the Shriker goal-frame, and the Iranian did not require a second invitation to give his side the lead.
The second half began with the same intensity as the first with Giti Pasand dominating possession, interchanging swiftly but patiently, attempting to break the stubborn Japanese formation.
Nine minutes into the second half, the Japanese side's resilience finally paid dividends after some individual brilliance by Shibano as he turned from his marker before unleashing a powerful effort beyond a well beaten Sepehr Mohammadi.
In a last ditch attempt, the Japanese side then took the risky decision to deploy the power play with just two minutes remaining, but saw its hopes diminished when Asghar scored to secure Giti Pasand a flawless group stage campaign.
Giti Pasand’s head coach Alireza Afzal praised his players’ efforts, saying, "The Japanese team came here with nothing to lose. It was a high risk game with the pressure on us to deliver and I am happy with my players. We kept our composure throughout. We ran well, we cooperated and we defended as a team. We deserve our victory against a very good team."
Giti Pasand now awaits the runner-up from Group D in the quarterfinals. Second placed Shriker will battle the Group D winner, with both matches on Thursday.