Japan defeated Iran in the final of the 16th Asian Futsal Championship

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Japan ended Iran’s run to the final undefeated and stopped them from winning their 13th title out of 16 editions


On Saturday, Kenichiro Kogure’s side showed tremendous grit to come from behind to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2014, taking their overall tally to four titles.

In this match, which was held at the Saad Al-Abdullah Sports Hall Complex in Kuwait at 20:30 (local time), Japan defeated Iran, the most honored team in Asia, 3-2, and were crowned the champions.

Iran, who had scored 37 goals en route to reaching the final, started as aggressively as ever with Hossein Tayebi and Alireza Rafiei Pour making early attempts at goal.

As head coach Kenichiro Kogure had anticipated, Japan were forced to play defence against Iran’s incessant pressure, with their best chances coming from counter-attacks and set-pieces.

Japan captain Arthur Oliveira, however, nearly stunned the defending champions in the eighth minute when his attempt off Soma Mizutani’s pass rocked the crossbar.

Japan defeated Iran in the final of the 16th Asian Futsal Championship

Japan lifts AFC Futsal Asian Cup – source: AFC

Iran almost paid a price again for their aggression a minute later after committing a foul at the edge of the box, but Oliveira’s free-kick was superbly saved by Saied Momeni.
Iran, however, continued to play their style of attacking futsal and after 15 minutes of testing Guilherme Kuromoto, Saied Ahmad Abbasi collected Mahdi Karimi’s pass and let loose a superb shot into the bottom right corner to open the scoring.
Japan, the only other team to have won the AFC Futsal Asian Cup, were unfazed and drew level a minute later when Mohammedhossein Derakhshani failed to intercept Kuromoto’s long-range throw into the final third, allowing Kazuya Shimizu to equalise with a brilliant right-footed shot.
Iran looked to close the first half strongly but Tayebi and Abbasi’s efforts were denied by Kuromoto’s quick reflexes as both sides entered the halftime break with the title still very much up for grabs.

Iran’s waves of attacks continued in the opening minutes of the second half with Abbasi and Moslem Oladghobad forcing parries out of Kuromoto in the opening minutes but Rafiei Pour’s foul on Shimizu in the 27th minute gave Japan a lifeline.

Oliveira stepped up to take the free-kick and the skipper made no mistake as he smashed his effort home to put Japan ahead for the first time.

The goal stunned Iran – who had only conceded two goals in their previous five matches – into action as they increased the intensity of their attacks in search of the equaliser.

Iran would have equalised moments later through Abbasi’s strike if it weren’t for Kuromoto’s fine save, with the keeper standing tall against Salar Aghapour’s effort in the 29th minute to maintain Japan’s  lead.

With the clock ticking, Iran head coach Vahid Shamsaee employed power play for the first time in Iran’s campaign with Tayebi donning the keeper’s jersey in the 36th minute.

Tayebi came closest in the 39th minute with his strike deflecting off the upright but there was to be more woe for Iran with Abbasi slotting the ball into the back of his own net in the final 30 seconds.

Iran pulled one back through Alireza Javan Shahkali with a second left on the clock but it was meant to be Japan’s final to celebrate. Iran left heartbroken by a resolute Japan in the final.
Main picture: Iran Daily
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