IR Iran seal semi-final place in style
Taipei: Islamic Republic of Iran are one step closer to defending their AFC Futsal Championship title after beating Thailand 9-1 in the quarter-finals on Thursday at the Xinzhuang Stadium.
The defending champions produced a dominant performance, taking a five-goal lead in the first half with strikes from Ahmed Esmaeilpour, Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh and Hossein Tayebi.
Thailand’s Jirawat Sornwichian found one back but further goals from Mahdi Javid and Mohammad Shajari, sealed a comprehensive win for Iran.
Iran took the lead just 10 seconds into the match with Hassanzadeh’s long range pass finding Esmaeilpour, who made no mistake with a left-footed shot.
It was just the beginning for the title holders as Esmaeilpour scored his second in the fourth minute when he intercepted a pass and surged down the middle, before hitting home.
Hassanzadeh turned goalscorer less than 30 seconds after the restart from a set-play, tapping the ball in from close range, before Tayebi made it 4-0 in the sixth minute, courtesy of Farhad Tavakoli’s swift pass.
ASEAN champions Thailand’s first real chance came in the 10th minute with Madyalan aiming for the top left but Ali Reze Samimi palmed the the ball away.
Thailand conceded again in the 17th minute with Tayebi’s superb ground shot to the bottom right corner.
There was to be no respite for the Southeast Asians as Javid etched his name on the scoresheet two minutes into the second half, but Thailand’s five-men assault team avoided a whitewash with Sornwichian finding the back of the net moments later.
Shajari restored Iran’s six-goal lead in the 25th minute with a simple tap in, and as Thailand piled on the pressure in search of goals, they were hit again.
Tayebi completed his hat-trick in the 36th minute, before Shajari struck the final goal of the match.
Iran will face the winners of the Vietnam-Uzbekistan quarter-final, which will be played later on Thursday.
Mohammed Nazemasharieh: Islamic Republic of Iran Head Coach
“There were some good reasons for our win. Firstly, we had a meeting with our players, because we weren’t satisfied with their performance against Iraq and told them to have better concentration. And we also analysed Thailand’s performance in this and other tournaments. Thailand have been one of the best teams in Asia, and have been one of Iran’s rivals since 20 years ago, and we really respect them. I will say it again, the Iranian team play with our hearts. We have a vision, it started in 2016 Colombia. We started with some new players, and are aiming for the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup. We aren’t only representatives of Iran in that competition, but of Asia as well. Whatever way we can improve, we will try to reach there.”
Jose Maria Pazos: Thailand Head Coach
“There was no game. Once they scored the first goal in the opening seconds, it was over. It was important to keep the concentration, but we lost that in the first few minutes after conceding three goals in four minutes. The score reflects our performance. Maybe our mental preparation was not there, and making one mistake after another against Iran meant it’s over. We showed two faces in this tournament, our really good and bad. We showed today that we are not ready to face a team like Iran. Now we must analyse what was the problem here. We need to know why we have two faces, and find a stable level. This tournament is the first tournament for some of our players, and the last for some, and we need to fix the problems we have in this tournament, ahead of 2020.”