AFC – TABRIZ, Islamic Republic of Iran are two matches away from defending their AFC U-20 Futsal Championship title, but will face a daunting challenge in the form of Japan in the semi-finals at the Pour Sharifi Stadium on Thursday.
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
Goals scored: 13
Top scorer: Salar Aghapour (5 goals)
Two goals in extra time proved the difference as host nation Iran beat Lebanon 3-2 in the quarter-finals. Iran had taken an early lead, but an array of missed chances and countless strikes against the frame led to Lebanon pushing the game into extra time with a last minute goal.
Head coach Hamid Moghadam, however, was not disheartened by his side’s lack of finishing, as he praised his players for creating chances.
“Not scoring goals and creating chances are two different things, because sometimes you create chances but you’re just not lucky,” Moghadam said.
“That’s futsal, sometimes your player finishes, and sometimes they don’t hit. We lost so many chances, and hit the upright so many times, I lost count.
“Each match played in a tournament or even friendly adds experience to the players. Of course, in this match, we gained experience, and this was added to our previous experience, which helps the overall improvement.”
While Moghadam understands that Japan pose a different threat compared to Lebanon, the 42-year-old coach is going into the semi-final as if it’s the final.
“This is going to be our fourth final. We will, of course, prepare to play against Japan.
“Thailand were eliminated from the competition and anything is possible in futsal, that’s the beauty of it. We want to beat Japan, and we want to win the title.”