News ID: 214343
Published: 0146 GMT May 02, 2018

‘Big expectations’ come with trophy, Iran’s Mozafar says

‘Big expectations’ come with trophy, Iran’s Mozafar says

Iran’s head coach Shahrzad Mozafar knows there is added pressure that comes with being reigning champion, but believes her side is ready to retain its AFC Women’s Futsal Championship title, starting with a win against newcomer Turkmenistan in Bangkok, Thailand, on Thursday.

Iran claimed the first AFC women’s futsal title in Malaysia three years ago, and Mozafar believes that achievement, coupled with the nation’s passion for the five-a-side game, means her charges has a duty to excel in Thailand, reported.

“Achieving the title of champions in the first edition also brings a lot of expectation inside Iran and from the others outside, so this brings a big responsibility for us as coaching staff and also for the players,” she said.

“As you know, Iranians really love futsal, so we have a very big responsibility to satisfy the people by repeating the title.

“Once you achieve something for the first time, it becomes harder to repeat that achievement, but we are ready for that.”

With Iran’s sights set firmly on retaining its crown, the first obstacle comes in the shape of an unheralded Turkmenistan side which is competing in the competition for the first time.

While the title holder is widely expected to win its opening match, Mozafar insists nothing will be taken for granted.

“I have seen Turkmenistan play in the Asian Indoor Games. I think they are developing, but we respect every team and we never underestimate any opponent,” she declared.

The 2017 Asian Indoor Games, played on home soil in Ashgabat, gave Turkmenistan the rare opportunity to compete alongside the continent’s best, and one which provided valuable lessons, according to head coach Kamil Mingazov.

“The Asian Indoor Games was a really big experience for us,” he said.

“Japan and China PR were good teams to play for us because we are quite a young team. We only began two years ago.

Despite the perceived difficulty of his side’s Group D opponents, Mingazov also revealed his joy at being drawn alongside neighbours Iran and Uzbekistan.

“It seems like we have a hard group, but for us it’s even better but we are progressing. We need more games against strong teams so it’s a plus for us,” he said.

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