News ID: 214859
Published: 1224 GMT May 11, 2018

Iran seeking second Asian futsal title against Japan

Iran seeking second Asian futsal title against Japan
Iranian players celebrate a goal during the 5-0 semifinal victory over Vietnam at the 2018 AFC Asian Women’s Futsal Championship in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 10, 2018.
the-afc.com

Iran head coach Shahrzad Mozafar said substance, not style is at the forefront of her side’s push for a second successive title in today’s AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 final against Japan.

The defending champion has been all but untouchable in Bangkok, scoring 32 goals in four matches, with a briefly defiant China the only side to issue a serious challenge to its dominance, the-afc.com reported.

But despite the sheer weight of goals in Iranians campaign, and the style in which they have been scoring, Mozafar said getting the job done was her only focus in the final.

“We are thinking only about winning in the final,” said the 48-year-old.

“It doesn’t matter how many we score, I’m not thinking about the extent of the result, I’m just thinking about winning, that’s it. The final game is a very special game and we have to be really careful and clever.”

Iran beat Japan 1-0 in the final in the inaugural final in Malaysia three years ago, with tournament MVP Fereshteh Karimi scoring the decisive goal and Farzaneh Tavasoli making a number of key saves.

Both players have been outstanding again in Bangkok, with available support from the likes of nine-goal top scorer Fatemeh Etedadi and Sara Shirbeigi.

They all played a role In Mozafar’s side’s racing to a 4-0 halftime lead in its semifinal win over Vietnam, but the tactician insisted she remained focused on closing the game out rather than resting key players in the latter stages.

“A semifinal match is so important by itself. We have a day of rest, so I paid no attention to managing players before the final, because this match was so important,” she explained.

“You saw in the second half that Vietnam got back into the contest and played the game. It was not easy and we can’t be deceived by the result just because we won 5-0.”

While many of her players have been Asian champions before, winning the title would be a first for Mozafar, with Forouzan Soleimani at the helm when Iran lifted the trophy in 2015.

 

Inspirational role

 

Ahead of today’s final, Iranian star Etedadi told the-afc.com about her remarkable scoring spree and the impact of the national team’s success.

Already an Asian champion in Malaysia in 2015, the 29-year-old opened her account at the 2018 continental championship with a four-goal haul against Turkmenistan, before scoring a double against Uzbekistan, a crucial strike against China and two more in the semifinal against Vietnam.

She is now in pole position to win the tournament’s top scorer award, although Japan’s Anna Amishiro and Thailand’s Sasicha Phothiwong remain in contention with eight goals apiece.

Etedadi said her scoring success is the result of hard work and the extension of excellent run of domestic form.

“I was the top goal scorer in Iran leading up the tournament and I have continued it here,” she said.

“I did a lot of planning for this tournament, and I’ve tried so hard in all the matches. I always try my best for the team and the country rather than because of a desire to score personally.”

A team-first attitude is a common theme for Etedadi. While she has been the goal scoring hero in Bangkok, she said team success has always been her objective.

“When I started playing futsal at the age of 15, the goal for me was reaching the national team and the second goal was being the best team in Asia,” she revealed.

“Now the final goal is becoming one of the best teams in the world.”

Iran has long-been an Asian futsal powerhouse. The men’s national team has dominated the AFC Futsal Championship, winning the competition in 12 of the 15 times it has been staged, but Etedadi said the success of the women’s side has changed the face of the game back home.

The success of 2015 was a circuit-breaker in terms of recognition for ability of the nation’s female stars, and Etedadi is acutely aware of the impact their achievements have on future generations.

“The last title was really inspiring and now women’s futsal is big and well-known in Iran. Before that there was nothing,” she said,

“People really showed appreciation the last time when we won, and everybody – girls, boys, all the young people were inspired."

“Many girls in Iran are inspired because these girls (the Iran team) are so inspiring.”

 

   
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