AFC President hails title winners Japan and history makers Afghanistan
Kuala Lumpur: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has praised Japan for clinching their inaugural AFC U-20 Futsal Championship crown after they defeated Afghanistan 3-1 in a closely fought final on Saturday at the Pour Sharifi Indoor Stadium in Tabriz.
The AFC President said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to congratulate Japan for their consistency and for their captivating performances.
“The country’s ability to regularly produce the Continent’s best in futsal is a testament to the Japan Football Association’s efforts in creating sustainable pathways to grow the sport.
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Shaikh Salman also praised runners-up Afghanistan who reached their first-ever final in any AFC competition after the Central Asians produced a fairy-tale run, with victories over Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia on the way to Saturday’s showdown.
The AFC President added: “Credit must also go to Afghanistan who displayed incredible character to reach their first-ever final.
“I am confident that the performance of these fine young men will serve as an inspiration to further strengthen the development of the game at all levels in the country."
“Futsal is growing steadily in Asia and as an indoor sport, it is particularly suitable to the demanding climates in the Continent and the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship was introduced to provide our Member Associations with more opportunities to compete at the highest level, as underlined in the AFC’s Vision and Mission.
“I am pleased to note the impact it has had on Afghanistan and I hope this performance will serve to spur other emerging Asian teams to scale new heights on the biggest stages.”
Shaikh Salman also commended the Local Organising Committee for hosting a highly- competitive tournament that showcased once again the excitement the sport can generate.
Shaikh Salman said: “I must also praise the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) for staging a memorable tournament. Futsal represents a crucial platform for player development and for the AFC as we strive to grow the love for the sport and the FFIRI must be praised for realising those objectives.”
Host nation IR Iran ended their campaign in third place with Salar Aghapour proving to be one of their brightest stars after he emerged as the tournament’s top scorer with eight goals to his name.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Osawa Masashi, who scored on three different occasions, including the final match against Afghanistan, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
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