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The AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2022 Final – Iran v Japan kicks off today!
Iran are confident of defending their AFC Futsal Asian Cup title when they go up against perennial rivals Japan in the final. It will be the eighth meeting between the two teams in the final, and a repeat of the 2018 edition where Iran emerged 4-0 winners.
The rematch will also be a reunion between Iran head coach Vahid Shamsaei and his Japan counterpart Kenichiro Kogure, as both were foes as players.
While Shamsaei expressed his utmost respect for a Japan team that Kogure has coached since 2018, the former Iran international expects his side to maintain the fine form that has seen them power into the final with five convincing wins.
“I have experience with Kogure as a player, playing against one another, but today we have roles as coaches,” Shamsaei told the-afc.com.
“Japan are really strong, and we will try to stick to our strategy. We will try to analyze them as best as we can, and control moments in the game. We are aware that Japan are very well prepared and are very disciplined in the game.”
“It’s difficult to anticipate if the match will finish in 40 minutes, or extra-time or penalties. But from the first minute, we will have high concentration and start tough against them.
“It’s an important game for us, we know our opponents are very strong with the best players and a good coach, but we believe in our players and we are here surely to be champions. We will put in all our efforts to the very last minute. From now on, it’s out of my hands.”
Kogure, meanwhile, is fully aware of how dangerous Iran are in front of goal, having scored 37 goals in five matches, but the 42-year-old tactician welcomed the challenge and said his players are brimming with confidence after displaying improved performances with every passing match.
“We are happy to be here and I’m proud of our players,” said Kogure. “Personally, I have known Shamsaei for 20 years as a friend and player. I’m happy to play against him and a strong team.
“They are always our rivals but we will prepare well for the final, and our players are confident. We will try our best to beat Iran and be champions.”
“This final match will be a completely different match from the semi-final or our other previous matches. Naturally, it will be a nervous game, and our plan will be to work hard in defense and shut down Iran’s fabulous attack, and control the game as much as we can. I expect our talented players to spread their wings to play their best match ever.
“We don’t have any specific strategies to shut down Iran’s attacks, but the good news is that we don’t have a Vahid Shamsaei on the court tomorrow!”
Iran are the powerhouse of Asian futsal, dominating this competition, winning it twelve times.
Thailand head coach Carlos Cesar Gago expects a tough challenge thought from Uzbekistan, speaking with AFC.com, he said it is imperative for his side to correct the mistakes they made against Iran.
“They are keeping things interesting, and we know they are a strong team, not just physically but tactically. They’re using players from a long time ago. I admire this team, as they are an interesting team, and we know it will be difficult for us.
“As for Thailand, we need to fix the mistakes we made yesterday. We conceded goals from situations we had anticipated. Our target is achieved, which is to be among the top four teams in Asia. Tomorrow, we will need to try to play without pressure and do our best to win.”
Thailand may have been derailed from winning the tournament for the first time but the playoff presents Cesar Gago and his charges another opportunity to challenge one of Asia’s best teams.
“When I’m in charge of this process, I don’t just have one target. The objective to finish in the top four in Asia is done, and now it’s better to finish third than fourth. ”
“There are many targets to achieve in this tournament. Motivation-wise, we need to understand that it’s not only important to win the tournament, but also to think about the future.
“Thank you to our supporters from Thailand and those in Kuwait. We will do our best like every game. It’s just one more step, one more opportunity to improve and another opportunity to enjoy the tournament. It’s a good tournament to play in, we are very lucky to be here.”
Uzbekistan narrowly missed out on a fifth appearance in the final after their loss to Japan, but head coach Bakhodir Akhmedov said his players have mentally recovered from the defeat and will be ready for Thailand.
“I respect the Thailand team and their coach, a really tactically good team with experienced players,” said Akhmedov. “It will be a difficult game tomorrow, they’ve got some of the best players in the tournament. We lost yesterday, but we must stand up tomorrow and do our best.”
“We understand that in futsal you can win or lose. I’ve spoken to my players and have motivated them for tomorrow’s game. They will be 100 percent ready.
“I want to apologise to our fans for yesterday’s game. For tomorrow, we will show our best and we will try our best to win the match.”
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