Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Bangkok: Japan will meet Islamic Republic of Iran in Saturday’s AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 final after defeating host nation Thailand 2-1 in a gripping semi-final on Thursday.
Masami Kato scored the winner for Kenichiro Kogure’s side seven minutes from time, to leave Thailand heartbroken after their resurgent second half had seen them equalise three minutes earlier.
The East Asians gained a measure of revenge in their first competitive meeting with the Thais since the 2017 Asian Indoor Games final, with Kato’s goal ultimately deciding an epic contest.
In an engrossing opening, Thai captain Jiraprapa Tupsuri was the first to test the keeper when she forced Ayaka Yamaoto into a smart early save.
But it was Japan who settled first, and they gained the crucial advantage five minutes in when a move started by Anna Amishiro, and continued by Mio Fujita, set up an unmarked Ryo Egawa to score.
To make matters worse for Thailand, Mutita Senkram – player of the match and scorer of a hat-trick in the quarter-final – was sent off six minutes later for a blatant foul on Amishiro, who had breached the defence and was bearing down on goal when she was unceremoniously pulled down from behind.
The hosts survived for two minutes with four players on the court, thanks largely to Pannipa Kamolrat’s brilliant save from an Amishiro effort, then had a wonderful chance to level the match just before half-time.