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Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Republic of Iran's Mohammad Reza Heidarian is a futsal legend who continues to be part of the game despite having retired nine years ago.

Heidarian is extremely satisfied with the progress of the game in Asia and the-AFC.com sat down with the 43-year-old, the 2004 Asian Futsal Championship MVP winner, as he shared his thoughts. 


Q: How has futsal progressed in Asia since your retirement?

A: Futsal in Asia has progressed a lot since I retired. I think this impressive progress came from the AFC's futsal development programmes and each MAs efforts. You can see Vietnam for example. They managed to qualify for the World Cup and even advanced from the group stage there.

Q: What more can Asian teams do to compete with the world's best?

A: First of all, we should have strong and well organised domestic leagues.

Secondly, you should play futsal developed countries like Brazil or other power houses in Europe as many times as you can.

You will be able to gauge where you stand, and at the same time, you will improve from the experience.

Lastly, you have to exchange and share knowledge with strong teams in Asia and even from outside Asia.

Q: Iran are the flagbearers for Asia in futsal at the world level. What makes them so dominant in Asia?

A: Iran has a very competitive domestic league. There are many kids with great skills playing street football there and this is a very good source to find good talents.

Also, there are many futsal development schools.

Lastly, many players and ex-players are keen to attend futsal coaching courses and they use their experience to teach kids.

Q: Do you enjoy coaching at the highest levels or would you be interested in focusing on development?

A: I actually enjoy both. I love to see my players improving. Setting up development plans is also very enjoyable.    

Q: AFC now has more futsal competitions compared to when you were player. What do you think of these competitions?

A: More AFC futsal competitions can only mean one thing - they will help improve futsal in Asia.

I hope there will be more matches - even on a zone to zone basis, home and away. Many more ideas should be discussed to increase the number of matches.

Photos: AFC