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IR Iran cruise to third place finish

Tabriz: Host nation Islamic Republic of Iran ended their 2019 AFC U-20 Futsal Championship campaign on a high note when they defeated Indonesia 9-1 at the Pour Sharifi Stadium on Saturday. 

Iran were looking to impress their fans with a third place finish after their 8-4 loss to Japan in the semi-finals, but they had to do it without Sahand Rezapour, who was serving a one-match ban.

The match was intense from the first whistle of the blow, with Indonesia playing a little more aggressively as Muhammad Rizki Xavier picked up the first yellow card of the game within the first minute.

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Iran, the 2017 champions, kept their cool and gradually dominated possession.

Indonesia paid the price for their aggression in the third minute when Iran were awarded a free-kick 10 metres out, and Salar Aghapour found the back of the net with his effort for his sixth goal of the tournament.

The host nation applied heavy pressure with man-to-man marking, and the Southeast Asians succumbed a minute later when Ari Ramdani’s pass forward was blocked by the edge of Sajjad Sarbaz’s boot, and Ali Akrami sent the loose ball home to make it 2-0.

The Southeast Asians looked dangerous with their set-pieces, but a failed attempt in the sixth minute saw Iran’s Aghapour surging down the court on a counter-attack and he made no mistake at the end of the run to beat goalkeeper Muhamad Wildan.

Eleven minutes in, Iran showed how quickly they could move on a counter-attack, with Hashem Sajjadian and Sarbaz the dynamic duo upfront, and Wildan had no chance as Sarbaz took the finishing touch.

Aghapour, who has excelled throughout the tournament, etched two assists to his name when his passes into the box saw Reza Ghanbarisaeidabad and Erfan Ijihosseinzadeh scoring in the 16th and 17th minutes respectively.

Trailing by six goals, Indonesia opted for power play with Muhammad Syaifullah coming on but couldn’t find inroads into the box in the remaining minutes of the first half.

Indonesia continued with their five-man attacking play well into the second half, playing patiently around the Iranian defence.

However, it was a defensive error on their part in the 25th minute that proved costly, when captain Ramadhan Zidani brought down Mahdi Dehghannezhad in the box, which Aghapour then converted from the spot to complete his hat-trick.

Iran dominated whenever Syiafullah was off the court as the power player, and despite their hefty lead, they weren’t done as Belal Esmaili Kooraneh got into goal scoring action in the 29th minute, courtesy of Dehghannezhad’s assist.

Indonesia came extremely close to denying the Iranians a clean sheet in the 34th minute when a series of passes led to Firman Adriansyah in front of the box, but custodian Ebrahimi was in position to body block the close range effort.

Adriansyah wasn’t to be denied two minutes later, however, as he scored Indonesia’s consolation goal, but was given his marching orders just moments later after picking up his second yellow for a harsh tackle on Ghanbarisaeidabad.

Despite playing with a man down, Sayan Karmadi’s Indonesia showed commendable fighting spirit and deployed power play once again, but it backfired when Dehghannezhad fired a long-range effort to end proceedings.

*Hamid Moghadam: IR Iran head coach
“Today there was no pressure, so we played calmly. We are Iranians, and there are always expectations to win, so our players were pressured to perform previously. We had analysed Indonesia previously and our tactics today was high pressing. I’m happy that our players created chances and scored goals. We began our tournament with three injured players, but they’ve shown that they are strong, and I’m proud that we ended with the bronze medal.”

*Sayan Karmadi: Indonesia head coach
“Firstly, I want to congratulate Iran for the victory. There were multiple strategies that we deployed from high pressing and power play, but Iran were determined to not lose again. They played really systematic and exploited our weak points in this match. I’m still satisfied with what we have achieved here, because we are here with players that had no international experience before. I’m happy that we have shown that we are on the same level as Iran, Japan and Thailand. The players did a remarkable effort in this tournament. I will go back and speak to our federation, because I think we can reach the 2024 World Cup with this group of players.”

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