Quarter finals preview: AFC Women's Futsal Championships

AFC Women
Courtesy: The AFC.com

Uzbekistan’s Maksumov aiming high ahead of Japan clash

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Bangkok: 2015 runners-up Japan are among the favourites to lift the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 trophy on Saturday, but Uzbekistan head coach Avaz Maksumov is aiming to mastermind an upset against the East Asians in Wednesday's quarter-final.

Uzbekistan finished winless and rock bottom of their group in the 2015 edition of the tournament, but reaching the Knockout Stage this time around is only the first step towards achieving Maksumov’s lofty pre-tournament goal.

“Maybe this is strange, but before this tournament our goal was to play in the final match,” he revealed.

“I think every coach should be wanting their team to play well every time. Maybe our team is not the best team here, but our goal is to go as far as we can and reach the final match.”

The Central Asians suffered a 9-2 defeat at the hands of reigning champions Islamic Republic of Iran, but the score line doesn’t tell the full story of an Uzbekistan team that played aggressively and skilfully without their two goalkeepers, both of whom were missing through suspension.

“The first game we won, the second game we played against Iran, who everyone knows are a very good a team and the last champions,” Maksumov explained.

“I know the result in that game wasn’t good for us, but we now have that little bit more experience ahead of this game.”

Japan have won all three of their matches in Bangkok, with their most recent win – a 6-4 success against China PR – giving them their first real test after more comfortable wins over Lebanon and Bahrain.

Maksumov has had time to do his homework on the East Asian side, and he is expecting to come against a formidable opponent at Huamark Indoor Stadium.

“I know Japan’s teams very well, the men’s and women’s, and they are always participating in the Finals. I also know (Japan head coach Kenichiro) Kogure very well as a player and as a coach.

“Maybe Japan have little bit more of a chance, but we don’t have any other way but to try, and we will try.”

Maksomov’s opposite number Kogure revealed his happiness with the way he side is adjusting to tournament futsal.

“During the group stage I’m glad we could win our matches, and our players are growing into the tournament,” he declared.

“For the quarter-finals we will look to continue our momentum and advance to the semi-finals.”

Kogure has used the group stage to experiment with his side, but the former AFC Futsal Championship-winning player brushed off suggestions Japan is suffering from a lack of preparation for the latter stages.

“We didn’t have any preparation time as a national team, but the national league has been taking place throughout the year and each club really helped to prepare our national team players.”

The winners of the match will face either Chinese Taipei or hosts Thailand in the semi-final on Thursday night.

Courtesy: The AFC.com

Top scorer Sasicha on injured list ahead of crucial quarter-final

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Bangkok: Thailand’s preparations for their AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 quarter-final against Chinese Taipei have been dealt a blow, with the revelation that tournament leading scorer Sasicha Phothiwong has suffered a knee injury.

The 26-year-old who has lit up the court, and the scoring charts, with eight goals in Thailand’s three group stage matches sustained the knock after scoring a hat-trick in Sunday’s 8-0 win against Hong Kong.

Head coach Udom Taveesuk confirmed the news, but stopped short of saying the star would miss Wednesday’s match.

“Sasicha’s injury is a two or three-day injury and after some rest we hope she will be ready for the game tomorrow,” he said.

“After the first three games some of our players have injuries, but they are not serious, and we still have very good players for the next game.

“We have 13 other quality players ready to play together.”

Although he has seen his side find the back of the net 24 times in their opening matches, Udom admitted he is not yet completely satisfied with his side and called on them to improve against a Chinese Taipei team he rates highly.

“In our last game we beat Hong Kong 8-0 but we still have some room to improve,” said the tactician.

“We still made some easy mistakes in our game and we’ll learn from it. Chinese Taipei are one of the good teams and are strong, but we are still confident we can advance and go to the final.”

With crowds at Thailand matches steadily increasing as the competition progresses, the host side is enjoying good support, but their head coach said the biggest advantage for his team will be one they can control – their performance.

“This is Thailand. This is our home and we have a good advantage that we can play at home and everyone is in our fan club, but this is not our only advantage,” he said.

“We also work in detail about how our players can play our way and control the game. We can’t control everything outside, but we can control our game.

“It’s good that we are home, but our biggest advantage is the control of our own game.”

Far from overawed by the prospect of playing the role of visitors, Chinese Taipei head coach Chang Yao-ming said his side will thrive under the spotlight provided by a game against the hosts.

“I believe our players will like playing in front of a lot of viewers,” he said.

“Most games at home there is no crowd there, and I think we will do well with more fans there.

“We just watched Thailand’s games against Hong Kong and Indonesia and our players thought it was a good atmosphere and one they will enjoy very much.”

The winners of the match will face either Japan or Uzbekistan in Thursday’s AFC Women’s Futsal Championship semi-finals.

Posted by Luca Ranocchiari --> luca.ranocchiari@futsalplanet.com


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