By Ijaz Ahmad Khan
ASHGABAT (Turkmenistan), Sept 27 (APP): The team they call “Kings of
Asian Futsal” was once again the irresistible force at the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
The Islamic Republic of Iran won their fifth AIMAG title and, at times,
it almost looked too easy for them to retain their crown. Iran recorded a 7-1 victory against Uzbekistan in the final with hundreds and thousands of crowd witnessed the thrilling encounter.
They scored 58 goals and conceded just 11 in a run of six unbeaten games
and they had the tournament’s top scorer in Mahdi Javed of Iran, who scored four of his 15 goals in the gold medal match. Their success in Ashgabat lifted them to World No.5 and coach Seyed Mohammad Naze3malsharieh believes there is more to come.
“I’m very happy the way our team played and win the final in a one-sided
affair,” he said. “Here we showed what Iran can do at Futsal. We showed everyone that we are No.1 in Asia – and we’ll get better in the World, too,” he remarked.
Beaten finalists Uzbekistan exceeded all expectations but team manager
Jahangir Usmano conceded Iran were simply too classy. “This final for us is kind of winning the Championship – we feel now like Champions,” Usmanov said. “We didn’t expect to lose with such a big difference of goal margin but, as I have said before, Iran is on a higher level.”
The other shock team of the tournament was Afghanistan, who started the
tournament as World No. 106, and reached the bronze medal match before being beaten by a youthful Japan in a penalty shoot-out. For them also, the achievement was being able to reach the medal stage.
“This is very good for our country. Everybody is happy,” said team
manager Din Mohammad Safi of Afghanistan. “My kids are crying, but I said, ‘don’t worry’, because we did our best. My chief in Afghanistan called me and he said, you are the champions, I’m happy.”
Thailand ended their long wait for a women’s gold through high energy
and single-minded discipline.
We train them like boys,” said team manager Krisda Sajakul before the
Games began. “Physically and mentally, they must think like boys. Every tackle and shot they make must be 100 per cent.” Krisda added.
Not even three-time AIMAG champions Japan could stand in their way as
Thailand stormed to a 3-1 victory in the final, adding gold to their
previous Games haul of two silver and two bronze.
Iran won the bronze by defeating China in a one-sided woman final. Iran
arrived at the Games with high hopes of emulating their male counterparts in a tournament reduced to seven teams after the late withdrawals of Vietnam and Indonesia. It left Iran coach Sharzad Mozafar admitting: “The average age of this team is close to 28 so we need to make it younger and bring in new players.”