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Group B Preview

Taipei: Tajikistan take on former champions Japan in their opening AFC Futsal Championship Chinese Taipei 2018 Group B tie on Thursday, with head coach Huseyn Shodyev declaring they are ready for the challenge.

Shodyev said their experience against Japan proves that they have little to fear when they go up against the 2012 and 2014 AFC Futsal Championship winners.

“Our team consists of young players, seven of them participated in the AFC U20 Futsal Championship 2017 in Bangkok, where we played (against Japan) to a 5-5 draw,” said Shodyev on Wednesday.

“With that in mind, the players are confident. The players aren’t feeling pressured or worried of the match against Japan.

“I have great respect for coach Bruno Garcia and the Japanese team. We know it will be a really tough game, but we will play a good game.”

Japanese head coach Garcia said the team had only a week to prepare but their recent friendlies against reigning FIFA Futsal World Cup champions Argentina - suffering two defeats - has given the Samurai Five the experience and groundwork they very much need.

“We played against the best, and if you want to know how good you are, you have to play against the best,” said the former Thai Son Nam coach.

“Both games were really good for us, we took one step forward in our preparation with those two matches and we are ready to play in the tournament despite only having one week of training.

“We don’t have a big goal right now, we are only focused against Tajikistan, and taking it one step at a time.”

Korea Republic missed out on the 2016 edition but have returned stronger, having topped Group B of the East Zone Qualifiers, and will take on Uzbekistan in their opener on Thursday.

For head coach Lee Sang-jin, their last meeting against Uzbekistan brings back a painful memory, where they lost 3-0 in the 2014 group stage, and he vowed to do better this time around.

“Firstly, it’s an honour for us to participate in the tournament,” said Lee.

“Uzbekistan have a strong team, we played against them in 2014 and we lost. I was assistant coach then.

“We have been training for this particular match for over a month, so we’re expecting a good result.”

Uzbekistan head coach Bakhodir Akhmedov was cautious of Korea Republic, respecting their achievements in the Qualifiers, but hoped to further develop his younger players with experience through the tournament.

“We started preparations in Tashkent, where we had good training,” said the former Uzbekistan futsal international.

“We came here with some young players, with the main task to give them experience and exposure.

“Korea Republic will be fierce opponents, who have prepared well. I hope the first match will be interesting, but I also hope that we get a good result.”

February 1

Uzbekistan v Korea Republic
Kick-off: 1630
Venue: University of Taipei Gymnasium


Japan v Tajikistan
Kick-off: 1900hrs
Venue: University of Taipei Gymnasium