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Group B: Nafit Al Wasat progress to quarter-finals

Yogyakarta: Iraq’s Nafit Al Wasat advanced to the AFC Futsal Club Championship Indonesia 2018 quarter-finals after beating Jeonju MAG FC of Korea Republic 6-1 on Sunday.

Jeonju, who were already out of contention, played for pride but Nafit played for the win, knowing a victory would surely secure their place in the last eight.

The intensity of the game was high, as both sides deployed serious man-to-man marking, and while Nafit had the better opportunities in the opening minutes, Jeonju held a solid defence.

However, Nafit eventually broke through the Korean barricade and took the lead when a corner kick-in found Farhad Tavakoli unmanned near the penalty spot and he made no mistake from 10 metres with a strike into the bottom left corner of the net.

Haitham Abbas Bawei’s charges continued with their nimble movement and passes in the final third that kept Jeonju’s players scrambling, and less than a minute later, a quick exchange of passes between Ghodrat Bahadori and Mustafa Bachay Hamzah made its way to Waleed Khalid in the box, who then easily steered the ball in from close range to double their lead.

Having proven to be a successful strategy, it didn’t take long before their efforts bore fruit again as Bachay Hamzah scored in similar fashion in the 13th minute to make it 3-0.

Subsequently, Jeonju tightened the spaces in their defence as they trailed by three goals going into the break.

In the second half, Lee Young-jin’s side displayed signs of fighting back with their counter-attacks but their runs consistently lacked the finishing touch.

In the 33rd minute, Jeonju goalkeeper Lee Jung-min, who replaced Jang Si-won earlier in the match, was forced into making a double save from Khalid and Tavakoli’s back-to-back efforts but the deflected ball was ultimately headed in by a surging Bachay Hamzah to put Nafit further ahead.

Zaid Al Hakeem etched his name on the scoresheet in the 37th minute, courtesy of skipper Firas Mohammed’s assist.

In the final minute of the game, Jeonju opted for power play, but so did Nafit, which backfired almost immediately as Shin Jong-hoon shot into an unguarded goalmouth.

However, further drama ensued with 40 seconds on the clock when Lee Seu-long was fouled for tackling Bahadori just outside the box, which Tavakoli then stepped up to unleash a superb strike through the Jeonju wall to restore their five-goal lead and claim a convincing win.

The win takes moves Nafit to the top of Group B with seven points, and will face Group A runners-up Vamos FC in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Jeonju MAG FC Head Coach Lee Young-jin:

"I am proud of my players because they did their best, so I am satisfied without any regrets. The futsal league in Korea Republic resumes around November, so I will now give the players some needed rest. It's a big honour for us and my team to participate in this high-level competition. I would also like to take this time to appreciate the AFC for giving us the opportunity to participate in this competition. This competition will be the main compass for my players."

Photos: AFC