Courtesy: The AFC.comPreview: Matchday One - Group CWednesday, May 2, 2018
Bangkok: Asian powerhouse Japan will begin their Thailand 2018 campaign against a Lebanon side, who will play their first competitive fixture in six years, while China PR will face Bahrain on the opening day of Group C action at the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018.JAPAN v LEBANON
Lebanon head coach Maroun El Khoury is excited about the challenge of his side’s first competitive fixture in six years, despite it coming against a Japan side who are among the favourites to lift the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 trophy.
The East Asians are the current AFC and Asian Indoor Games silver medallists but - despite the stark contrast between the two sides’ recent international experience - El Khoury is upbeat about the challenge.
“We started our preparation one month ago and we lacked time to play friendly games, but we are prepared to gain experience and to represent our country in the best possible way,” he said.
“It is hard to play the first game against Japan, but I believe it’s a boost for us to start the tournament with a big challenge. We’re ready to play this game."
While El Khoury has an eye to the future when assessing Lebanon’s tournament objectives, he insists his team will not fall victim to fear, even against Japan.
“We’re here to gain experience ahead of the next championship, but we have prepared well in the last month and we will do our best to go the quarter-finals,” he declared.
“We respect all of our opponents but we don’t fear anyone.”
In Lebanon’s last competitive tournament, the 2012 WAFF Women’s Futsal Championship, they reached the semi-finals, thanks largely to eight goals from Nancy Tchaylian, who El Khoury backed to leave a mark on the tournament.
“She was not present during the training, but we selected her because we believe she’s a professional player, and in her first training session with the team she proved she’s a professional player who can really help the team,” he revealed.
Japan will begin their campaign with little recent knowledge of their first opponents, but head coach Kenichiro Kogure appeared relaxed ahead of his side’s bow on the Thailand 2018 stage.
“We’re looking forward to our matches against Lebanon, China and Bahrain. We’ll try to do our best in every match,” he declared
“This our first game against Lebanon, and I think playing this match will serve as good preparation for the rest of the tournament.”
A winner of the AFC Futsal Championship with the Japanese men’s national team in 2006 and 2012, Kogure believes his history of success in the game can only be a positive for his players.
“I participated in many Asian tournaments as a player, and I believe this experience can help our players here.”
Japan nearly became the first AFC women’s futsal champions in Malaysia three years ago as they swept all before on the way to the final, only to suffer a 1-0 defeat to the Islamic Republic of Iran.CHINA PR v BAHRAIN
Another of the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship’s debutants, Bahrain will begin their campaign against a China PR side who reached the semi-finals at the Asian Indoor Games last September.
Bahrain head coach Elrashid Bukhari Ahmed said that absorbing lessons would be his side’s primary objective in Thailand.
“This our first participation in the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship, so we are here to participate and to gain experience,” he said.
“It’s the first official game for us in Asia, so the aim is for us (against China) to put out the best image possible and avoid a big loss or a bad performance.”
While Bahrain are not among the favourites in Thailand, they do feature Deena Abdelrahman, who top scored with 11 goals at the 2012 WAFF Women’s Futsal Championships.
Ahmed said he has some strong players, including Deena, but acknowledged that it would be difficult for his side to bridge the gap that exists between Bahrain and Asia’s top teams.
“In football it would be easier,” he said, adding: “because in futsal it is much more difficult to get good results against very strong teams, but we are prepared for this competition and we’ll do our best to qualify for the quarter finals.”
Ahmed’s opposite number, China PR boss Hu Jie, said his charges had benefitted from a solid preparation, which included a pre-tournament tour of Iran, and were ready to start strongly against the West Asians.
“We went to Iran for friendly matches, which was a very good chance for us to have experience before this tournament and hopefully we can use it here,” he said.
“We have prepared for this tournament for several months. Our players are young so we hope they can learn and improve from this tournament.”
Courtesy: The AFC.comPreview: Matchday One - Group DWednesday, May 2, 2018
Bangkok: Islamic Republic of Iran head coach Shahrzad Mozafar knows there is added pressure that comes with being reigning champions, but believes her side are ready to retain their AFC Women’s Futsal Championship title, starting with a win against newcomers Turkmenistan.TURKMENISTAN v IRAN
Iran claimed the first AFC women’s futsal title in Malaysia three years ago, and Mozafar believes that achievement, coupled with the nation’s passion for the five-a-side game, means her charges has a duty to excel in Thailand.
“Achieving the title of champions in the first edition also brings a lot of expectation inside Iran and from the others outside, so this brings a big responsibility for us as coaching staff and also for the players,” she said.
“As you know, Iranians really love futsal, so we have a very big responsibility to satisfy the people by repeating the title.
“Once you achieve something for the first time, it becomes harder to repeat that achievement, but we are ready for that.”
With Iran’s sights set firmly on retaining their crown, the first obstacle comes in the shape of an unheralded Turkmenistan side who are competing in the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship for the first time.
While the title holders are widely expected to win their opening match, Mozafar insists nothing will be taken for granted.
“I have seen Turkmenistan play in the Asian Indoor Games. I think they are developing, but we respect every team and we never underestimate any opponent,” she declared.
The 2017 Asian Indoor Games, played on home soil in Ashgabat, gave Turkmenistan the rare opportunity to compete alongside the continent’s best, and one which provided valuable lessons, according to head coach Kamil Mingazov.
“The Asian Indoor Games was a really big experience for us,” he said.
“Japan and China PR were good teams to play for us because we are quite a young team. We only began two years ago.
Mingazov enjoyed a prestigious 12-year career in Turkeminstan’s national football team, representing the nation when they reached the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 2004.
The 49-year-old said he would draw on his rich experience when guiding his side in Thailand.
“I have experience in the atmosphere of international football and, using all of that knowledge, I believe the girls no longer have the fear of the first time (in an international tournament),” he revealed.
“I’m applying all my experience and knowledge – everything to produce the best for our team.”
Despite the perceived difficulty of his side’s Group D opponents, Mingazov also revealed his joy at being drawn alongside neighbours Iran and Uzbekistan.
“It seems like we have a hard group, but for us it’s even better but we are progressing. We need more games against strong teams so it’s a plus for us,” he said.
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari