Tabriz: Head coach Ryuji Suzuki’s normally stern expression was replaced with a smile after Japan clinched the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship title on Saturday.
Suzuki had every reason to be overjoyed as Japan clinched their inaugural AFC U-20 Futsal Championship title in swashbuckling fashion, detroning 2017 champions Islamic Republic of Iran in the process with a sizzling 8-4 win the semi-finals.
They were always on top in the final against Afghanistan, as goalkeeper Tabuchi Hiroshi’s 38th minute effort sealed the 3-1 win after Takahashi Yudai and Osawa Masashi had scored in the first half.
Aghapour bags Top Scorer Award, Masashi clinches MVP Award
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.
Tabriz: Japan clinched their first AFC U-20 Futsal Championship title after overcoming Afghanistan 3-1 in the final at the Pour Sharifi Stadium on Saturday.
It was an intense match from the start, as Afghanistan wasted no time in signalling their intent when Seyed Hossein Mousavi sent a brilliant pass into the box which Ali Arab Zada shot just wide in the first minute.
The back-and-forth action was non-stop as Japan adapted well to the Central Asian team's pressure, and forced ‘keeper Mohammad Javad Safari into action in the third minute, denying Otsuka Hiroto’s effort.
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.
IR Iran, Indonesia seek cheer after semis heartbreak
Tabriz: The head coaches of Islamic Republic of Iran and Indonesia will urge their players to go for one last push when they square off in the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship IR Iran 2019 third-place play-off at the Pour Sharifi Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
Both came up just short in Thursday's semi-finals as Iran were dethroned by Japan after an epic tie while Afghanistan ended Indonesia's dream run, with both suffering defeat in extra time.
Tabriz: Afghanistan continued their fairytale run in the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship IR Iran 2019 after reaching their first-ever final, and goalkeeper Mohammad Javad Safari has pledged to make the country proud.
Afghanistan have been a formidable team in the second edition of the tournament, and made headlines when they reached their first knockout stage as the Group A runners-up, having beaten Hong Kong and putting up a solid challenge in their 3-2 loss to host nation Islamic Republic of Iran.
They had to dig deep in the quarter-final against Thailand, emerging 3-2 victors.