Iran, Uzbekistan to clash for supremacy in Ashgabat
Ashgabat: Islamic Republic of Iran showed their attacking prowess as they beat Afghanistan 8-2 in the Ashgabat 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games men's futsal semi-final on Sunday.
IR Iran will face Uzbekistan – who beat Japan 3-2 on penalties after their semi-final finished 3-3 following extra time – in the final on Tuesday.
The defending champions are on course for a fifth consecutive futsal crown after outplaying Abdul Razaq Momrak’s men early on, firing six goals in the first half.
The intensity was high from the start as IR Iran got their goals from Abolghasem Orouji in the third, Ahmad Esmaeilpour (fourth), Hossein Tayebibidgoli (eighth), Saeid Abbasi (11th), Mahdi Javid (13th) and Hamid Ahmadidazaj (14th).
Afghanistan responded with two of their own through Akbar Kazemi in the 17th – his 10th goal of the tournament – and Ali Jafari in the 25th to put the score at 6-2 at halftime.
There was no respite for Afghanistan as Shahrzad Mozafar’s men piled on more pressure after the break.
Javid completed his hat-trick with goals in the 36th and 37th – to lead the scoring charts with 11 goals.
"It probably looked like an easy win, but it was not easy.
We were just very concentrated because yesterday against Thailand, we went down twice in the first minutes and we didn't want to do that again,” said Iran's Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Rustam Umarov was the hero for Uzbekistan after saving two penalties in the shootout against Japan to earn their spot in the final.
Japan’s Kasho Tamura opened the scoring eight minutes into the match, with his shot taking Umarov by surprise.
Uzbekistan however, found the equaliser on the stroke of halftime, with Konstantin Sviridov finding the net.
The three-time bronze medallists went ahead three minutes after the restart through Davronjon Abdurakhmonov’s effort.
Kazuya Shimizu leveled the tie with a strike in the 27th minute but his joy proved to be shortlived when he picked up his second yellow card a minute later as Japan were left with a man down.
The 2013 runners-up went ahead through Shinsuke Hara in the 34th but the tie was even again after Uzbekistan found the net a minute later through Davron Choriev to send the match into extra time.
The tie went into penalties as neither side could find a breakthrough after the two periods of extra time.
At 2-1 down in the shootout, Umarov stole the show when he saved Takashi Morimura and Atsuya Uemura’s spot kicks as Uzbekistan’s Davronjon Abdurakhmonov scored the winner for a 3-2 win.
"I think my team deserved the victory. We had chances. Our style was different. They played many long balls and we play with it on the floor. That is the way I prefer," said Japan coach Bruno Jose Garcia Formoso.
"Uzebekistan lost only by 2-1 to Iran in the last AFC final so it will not be easy for Iran. Uzbekistan can win.
"Iran will be the favourites but they will have a tough match," he added.
This will be Uzbekistan's first appearance in the final.
"This final for us is kind of winning the championship already, we feel now like champions. It was our target to reach the final and of course we are not going to stop here,” said Uzbekistan team leader Jahangir Usmanov.
IR Iran 8-2 Afghanistan
Japan 3-3 Uzbekistan
(AET, Uzbekistan win 3-2 on penalties)
3rd-4th playoff: Afghanistan v Japan
Final: IR Iran v Uzbekistan