Minamoto: IR Iran are worthy winners
Taipei: Japan captain Akira Minamoto admitted that Islamic Republic of Iran’s superior qualities and clinical finishing meant they were deserved winners of the AFC Futsal Championship 2018 final on Sunday.
The Samurai Blue came out strongly in the opening half but tournament MVP Ali Hassanzadeh’s goal with just a minute remaining before the interval proved a turning point, and the Iranians scored three times more to finish as champions for the 12th time on the back of a 4-0 scoreline at Xinzhuang Gymnasium.
“I am glad we were able to show our style tonight but ultimately, in the important details, Iran’s superior qualities won out,” said Minamoto.
“We knew we had to start off with a good defensive solidity as that would be a key foundation for the match, and thereby a platform to take the initiative in the game – because Iran’s attack is very strong.
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“And I feel that the plan initially worked and If we could have scored one of our big chances in the first half, I am sure the game’s story would have changed.
“That’s what we tried to do, and we’re disappointed and unhappy that we couldn’t convert, while Iran took their chances, but that’s part of the game. We do need to improve on our finishing.”
Nevertheless, the run to the final on the back of an unbeaten streak of games did help to exorcise the memories of 2016, when Japan suffered a shock quarter-final defeat.
And under coach Bruno Garcia, Minamoto feels his side’s future is a positive one.
“It was the first tournament with a new head coach and therefore learning a new philosophy and style of play,” the Japanese skipper added.
“We feel we’re on the right path, and that’s a big positive. However, it’s clear that it’s still not yet quite enough to defeat Iran.
“We need to keep improving and working on the small details of the game, so that when we return to this stage again we can beat them.”