Nagoya Oceans through to final
Bangkok: Nagoya Oceans advanced to the final of the AFC Futsal Club Championship Thailand 2019 after defeating Thai Son Nam 3-1 in their semi-final on Thursday.
Three-time winners Oceans will meet defending champions Mes Sungun Varzeqan in Saturday's final, with the Islamic Republic of Iran side having defeated Uzbekistan's AGMK FC 7-3 in their semi-final.
The final promises to be a thriller, with Oceans having edged Mes Sungun 3-2 in their Group D clash on Monday.
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Oceans were quick to settle and tested Thai Son Nam as early as the first minute with Tomoki Yoshikawa getting his effort on target but not really troubling goalkeeper Ho Van Y.
Pepita, Oceans’ leading scorer with five goals, had a clear chance from inside the box in the third minute but the Brazilian’s effort was again easily handled by Ho.
Despite being pressed back, Thai Son Nam - who defeated the Japanese side in the 2018 quarter-finals, had an opportunity to score a minute later but Ton That Phi’s tame effort from inside the area made it a routine catch for Oceans goalkeeper Yushi Sekiguchi.
Oceans upped the tempo and were rewarded as Pepita finished off Yoshikawa’s assist in the fifth minute.
Thai Son Nam, the 2018 runners-up, were surprisingly subdued and this allowed Oceans to dictate the proceedings with their fast-paced attacking.
The Japanese outfit doubled their lead in the 16th minute after an exchange of passes between Yoshikawa and Pepita ended with the Brazilian scoring from above the arc to increase his tournament tally to seven.
Despite trailing, Thai Son Nam continued to struggle and Oceans took a 2-0 lead into the break.
The half-time pep talk had the desired effect as Thai Son Nam started the second half strongly and came close to reducing the deficit twice in the 25th minute through Nguyen Minh Tri and then Tran Thai Huy, but both efforts were blocked by Sekiguchi.
Thai Son Nam’s aggression, however, was rewarded just a minute later as Nguyen Manh Dung slotted home after Sekiguchi had saved Ton That Phi’s initial effort.
Thai Son Nam’s hopes of a comeback suffered a blow in the 33rd minute when Pham Duc Hoa received his marching orders after a second yellow card.
This spurred Oceans to push forward and they confirmed their place in the final when Shota Hoshi's shot from the left was deflected into the net.
Pham Minh Giang: Thai Son Nam head coach
“Our players tried their best but were unable to get the result. The team that had more physical presence won the game. We didn’t play well in the first half, we couldn’t get into proper goal scoring positions and our set-play was not effective.”
Juan Fuentes: Nagoya Oceans head coach
“We played well in the first half. I think the first goal was very important for us and it gave us an advantage as we controlled the game. We did well to keep our opponents from attacking.”
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