Tabriz: Islamic Republic of Iran’s Salar Aghapour emerged as the top scorer at the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship IR Iran 2019 with eight goals to his name.
Aghapour opened Iran’s 2019 campaign with a goal against Hong Kong, before firing two more goals to complete his hat-trick in their 6-3 win.
In their quarter-final match with Lebanon, Aghapour gave Iran the lead in the eighth minute, and struck an important extra-time goal to ensure the host nation advanced to the semi-finals with a 3-2 win.
Iran were knocked out of contention for a second successive title after their defeat to eventual champions Japan, but he found the back of the net three more times against Indonesia to ensure the young Team Melli finished third at home.
Japan were awarded the Fair Play Award, but it was Osawa Masashi that had more reason to rejoice at the end of the night as he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
Masashi’s performance was exceptional in Tabriz, where he scored on three different occasions, including the final match against Afghanistan to become Japan’s leading goal scorer.
“I’m really happy to be named MVP, but this achievement was the result of my teammates’ effort, because without them, I wouldn’t get this award. So I really appreciate them," said Masashi.
“This result is my way of saying a big ‘thank you’ to my parents, coaches and teammates.”
Masashi, who only turned 18 last week, could still be called up for the next edition of the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship in two year's time, but he already has his eyes on joining his senior colleagues, as well as continuing his career overseas.
“One of my main aims is to join the senior national futsal squad, and play with head coach Bruno Garcia. I also want to play in another country, like in Europe or South America.”