Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Bangkok: NAFIT Al-Wasat, the first-ever Iraqi club to reach the final, and Japan’s Nagoya Oceans - on track to becoming the first team in the championship’s history to win the title three times - will meet on Saturday in the 12,000-capacity Bangkok Arena to decide the honour of being Asia’s best club futsal team.
Both clubs pulled off remarkable upset wins in the knockout stages of the tournament. Nagoya’s stunning penalty shootout win against reigning champions Tasisat Daryaei revitalised their campaign after a slow start, while NAFIT were 40 seconds away from elimination in the semi-final against hosts Chonburi Bluewave before Ghodrat Bahadori’s dramatic equaliser and virtuoso extra-time performance drove the Iraqis to a famous win. The clash between Nafit and Chonburi also produced a new spectatorship record of 11,050.
After a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Dibba Al Hissin of the United Arab Emirates in the group stages, NAFIT convincingly disposed of China’s Dalian Yuan Dynasty to top Group C. They fell behind in their quarter-final against Qatar’s Al Sadd, but goals from Hamzah and Hassan Ali Jabbar saw them through to the final four.
Meanwhile, Nagoya began their campaign modestly in the Group Stage after a 2-2 draw with Australia’s Vic Vipers was followed by a 3-1 loss to Chonburi Bluewave. Advancing from Group A on goal difference, Nagoya overcame reigning champions Tasisat on penalties after a classic 2-2 encounter.
Nagoya then chose the perfect time to pick up their first win of the championship in regulation time, beating Dibba Al Hissin 3-1 in the semi-finals. Remarkably, all six knockout matches in the tournament have been won by a team that was trailing at one stage of the match.
After nine days, just two teams – NAFIT Al-Wasat and Nagoya Oceans are left standing to battle for continental glory. No matter what the outcome, the stage is set for history to be made in Saturday's final.