The AFC.com: semifinals preview from Bangkok (Women's Champs)

AFC Women
Courtesy: The AFC.com

Do Thi Nguyen hails Vietnam’s semi-final breakthrough

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bangkok: Breakout Vietnam star Do Thi Nguyen is relishing her side’s dream run at the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018, admitting the achievement of reaching the semi-finals has exceeded her pre-tournament expectations.

The Southeast Asians suffered three successive defeats to crash out in the group stage of the inaugural continental championship in Malaysia but, three years on, a sensational run of wins has taken them all the way to the final four.

Speaking the-AFC.com after her side’s absorbing 2-1 quarter-final win over Indonesia, the 24-year-old revealed her delight.

“This is more than I expected,” she said.

“I didn’t expect to get this far in the competition, but now that we have we’ll try to go even further.”

Do has been central to her team’s charge to the final four, scoring a hat-trick against Bangladesh, and another goal in their crucial win over Malaysia, before turning in a player of the match performance against Indonesia.

She was also present during the last AFC Women’s Futsal Championship campaign, and she has noticed a different mood among the squad under former men’s national team player Truong Quoc Tuan.

“I was there in 2015,” she recalled, adding “we have a lot of new players now, but we’re also playing with more of a fighting spirit. We’ve fought bravely in every game in this tournament.”

Vietnam’s next task is a daunting one. They will meet an Islamic Republic of Iran side still featuring many of the stars who lifted the trophy in Malaysia three years ago, and who have plundered 27 goals in their three matches so far in Bangkok.

But their leading goal scorer, while aware of the challenge ahead, is far from daunted by it.

“We know that playing against the defending champions is going to be very difficult, but we’ll play with a higher level of fighting spirit and solidarity, and we will certainly try,” she declared.

“We want to test ourselves against the best. Playing against a very strong opponent is where we will learn the most.”

Vietnam will meet Iran on Thursday, with the winners to face either Japan or Thailand in Saturday’s AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 final.

Courtesy: The AFC.com

Thailand, Japan prepare for epic semi-final showdown

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bangkok: After progressing through the tournament unscathed, Japan and hosts Thailand are set to come face to face in the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 semi-finals.

The sides met in last September’s Asian Indoor Games final in Ashgabat, with the Thais prevailing 3-1 to earn the gold medal, with Thursday’s winner-takes-clash providing an eagerly-anticipated sequel.

Speaking after Thailand registered a 6-1 quarter-final win over Chinese Taipei, head coach Udom Taveesuk said his side’s win against Japan last time gives them the confidence to dictate terms against the East Asians.

“We beat Japan 3-1 last time in the Asian Indoor Games so it’s not Japan, but Thailand who must try first to control the game,” he said.

“We have already prepared for other tactics, we have trained for the power play, but we must play our way first and try to control the game.”

In a repeat of the scenario in Ashgabat, the teams will meet having played the previous day. Having played the late match on Wednesday, Thailand will have slightly less time to recover than their opponents, but Udom said there was no cause for concern by the sharp turnaround.

“I’m not worried about the lack of preparation,” he said.

“They played today, we played today. It’s the same. Our players aren’t injured or tired.”

While the hosts have an almost identical team to the one that won gold in Ashgabat, Japan’s line-up is markedly different, with just five of the 14-strong squad who faced Thailand eight months ago making the trip to Bangkok.

One of the the players who didn’t take part when the sides last met is Annaa Amishiro, who has lit up the tournament with eight goals and three Most Valuable Player awards in four matches.

Another strong performance in the quarter-final against Uzbekistan has the 26-year-old firmly in the frame for both the tournament MVP and top scorer awards, but individual accolades are currently the furthest thing from her mind.

"I’m not conscious at all about winning the award for player of the tournament. I’m just focused on playing hard each match,” she said.

Amishiro also revealed that Thailand were her preferred semi-final opponents.

“I wanted to play against Thailand, because they’re the home team and I think it’ll be a different atmosphere,” she explained.

“That was my hope – that we could play Thailand in front of a big crowd.”

The winners of Thursday’s semi-final will face either Vietnam or reigning champions Islamic Republic of Iran in Saturday’s AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 Final.

Courtesy: The AFC.com

IR Iran ready for Vietnam

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bangkok: Surviving a scare against China PR provides the perfect preparation for Islamic Republic of Iran ahead of their AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 semi-final meeting with Vietnam, according to head coach Shahrzad Mozafar.

Goals to Tian Jiao and Zhang Yue had Mozafar’s side facing a 2-1 first-half deficit, but the reigning champions levelled in the 16th minute before taking control of the game after half-time to advance to the final four with a 4-2 win.

After dominating the three-team Group D with 23 goals in two easy wins, it was Iran’s first real test at the tournament, and that’s exactly what they needed according to their tactical leader.

“I totally agree that having a more difficult match will help our preparation,” she said.

“At the beginning of the tournament I said I’d prefer to be in a group of four teams and not three, because when you have a tight competition schedule it helps you to fight and improve and adjust to the atmosphere of the competition.

“We expect another really hard game like we had against China (in the semi-finals). At this stage all of the teams are so strong and it’s not easy to win, but we are ready.”

Key player Sara Shirbeigi agreed with her coach, saying tough matches will ultimately benefit her team.

“Matches like this, where we are challenged, help us to find our weaknesses and find a way to cover them,” she explained.

“We try to learn from each game, and we learn a lot more from matches like this.”

Shirbeigi scored the crucial fourth goal, effectively sealing the win for Iran and marking her fifth goal in three matches in Bangkok.

That haul builds on the six goals she scored at last year’s Asian Indoor Games, but she insists that she doesn’t mind who scores – as long as her team keeps winning games.

“I was happy that my goal made the game safe, but it doesn’t give me any extra personal satisfaction that it was me who scored it,” she said, adding “I was just happy that I was able to help the team.”

Meanwhile, Vietnam mentor Truong Quoc Tran was thrilled with his side’s fighting quarter-final win over Indonesia and paid tribute to support his team have received from above.

“Women’s futsal in Vietnam faces a lot of difficulties, but the federation has paid a lot of attention and put investment into this team and our players,” he revealed.

“The players have played together for a long time now and this is the result.”

Truong is under no illusions as to the enormity of the task that awaits his charges, and the 38-year-old, who represented Vietnam at the 2010 AFC Futsal Championship, said he’d be spending his night working rather than celebrating.

“We know that the Iran team is one of the strongest teams in Asia and we know that we will face a lot of difficulties playing against this team,” he said.

"In the semi-final we’ll try something new against them. I’ll study them as much as possible and I’ll try to choose the right solution."

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


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