Courtesy: The AFC.comIR Iran cruise into finalThursday, May 10, 2018
Bangkok: Islamic Republic of Iranís title defence remains on track after they beat Vietnam 5-0 to reach the AFC Womenís Futsal Championship 2018 Final in style.
Shahrzad Mozafarís side scored within five minutes, and were 4-0 up by half time, as they eased past a Vietnam side who had won all four of their previous matches at the tournament.
Veteran Fahimeh Zarei was influential, scoring once and providing two assists as Iran took another step towards retaining their status as Asiaís best womenís futsal team.
Iran will now face either hosts Thailand or 2015 runners-up Japan in Saturdayís tournament decider, while Vietnam, with their title hopes now extinguished, will play for third.
The defending champions came out firing, taking the initiative from as early as Fereshteh Karimiís first-minute shot and they only had to wait four more minutes for the first goal, scored by Arezoo Sadaghanizadeh after a sharp pass from Zarei.
Zarei also contributed the final pass for Iranís second goal five minutes later, when Sara Shirbeigi snuffed out a Vietnamese counter-attack and quickly shifted the ball to the 32-year-old who teed up Fatemeh Etedadi for a skilful finish.
Shirbeigi added a powerful third in the 14th minute, then supplied the speculative ball across goal that was finished off by Zareiís improvised header two minutes later, as Vietnamís hopes of reaching the final began to vanish.
Vietnamís leading goal scorer Do Thi Nguyen had a good opportunity six minutes after half-time but goalkeeper Farzaneh Tavasoli was more than equal to the task, and Truong Quoc Tuan deployed a power play for the first time shortly thereafter.
Le Thu Thanh Hong nearly got on the end of a sharp cross while wearing the goalkeeperís shirt, while Iranís Seyedehnastaran Moghimidarzi came close to finding the empty net from long range as Vietnamís desperation grew with seven minutes remaining.
The Southeast Asians had three shots at goal in a matter of seconds - and were denied by the impassable Tavasoli each time - before Etedadi removed any doubt as to the identity of the finalists with her second goal of the day and ninth of the tournament with three minutes remaining.
Tavasoli proved her quality one last time with an excellent save from Bui Thi Trangís last minute volley, marking the end of the Vietnamís challenge and Iranís progression to Saturdayís showpiece.Shahrzad Mozafar: Head coach, Islamic Republic of Iran
ďThe first half was brilliant for us. It was a very good start. We had confidence and at the beginning of the game our plan was to put pressure on the Vietnam team and I think it worked well for us. I think this match was the best match for the Iran team and the best performance from our players.ĒTruong Quoc Tran: Head coach, Vietnam
ďThe whole team knows that Iran are a very strong team, but unfortunately our players were a little bit afraid and didnít show their best in the first half. The evidence for saying that is that in the second half we were much better. Itís the first time weíve played a semi-final and the players were a little bit nervous, especially the very young players.Ē
Courtesy: The AFC.comJapan edge Thailand to progress to finalThursday, May 10, 2018
Bangkok: Japan will meet Islamic Republic of Iran in Saturdayís AFC Womenís 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 Kogureís 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 Katoís 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 Ė player of the match and scorer of a hat-trick in the quarter-final Ė 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 Kamolratís brilliant save from an Amishiro effort, then had a wonderful chance to level the match just before half-time.
After Japan needlessly gave away possession, Nimrattanasing Jiraprapraís deflected shot spilled agonisingly eluded the off-balance Jenjira Bubpha when any decent contact would have made it 1-1.
With Mamyalee Swaitree deputising for the red-carded Mutita in Udomís starting quartet, the 24-year-old nearly equalised in the second minute of the second half when Jenjiraís cross-court pass was deflected mere centimetres behind her.
Thailand began to ramp up the pressure. Jenjira might have done better when she was left unmarked from a 27th minute corner, and Darika Peanpailun brought the best out of Yamamoto only seconds later as the hosts searched for their equaliser.
Japan responded by launching a counter-attack which saw Egawa rattle the woodwork, before Jenjira brought the crowd to its feet - and Thailandís hopes back to life - with a neat close-range finish to make it 1-1 after some brilliant interplay between Mamyalee and Sasicha Phothiwong in the 30th minute.
But with a place in the final up for grabs, Japan quickly regained the lead when Kato was able to steer home Mika Eguchiís pass from a set piece routine three minutes later.
Udom used the power play for the first time in the tournament with four minutes remaining, and while the ever-busy Jenjira came the closest to scoring while the tactic was deployed, Japanís defence held firm.
Japan can now look for further revenge. The semi-final result sets up a rematch of the 2015 AFC Womenís Futsal Championship final, with Iran looking to add to the title they won three years ago.
Thailandís campaign will conclude with a play-off for third place against neighbours Vietnam.Kenichiro Kogure: Japan Head Coach
ďI expected a very tough game against Thailand. They are the champions of the Asian Indoor Games but we tried to do our best and we also try to play in a positive way. I didnít think we would win with 1-0. I told the players at half-time be yourself and keep going.ĒUdom Taveesuk: Thailand Head Coach
ďEvery payer fought very hard in every game. Our effort was good but Iím not happy with the result. We lost the game and we lost one player, but we fought back to make it 1-1. Once it got to 2-1, it became difficult for us. Iíd like to say sorry to all Thai fans, but we still have one last game to go. We came back well in the start of the second half but Japan are a very good team and every player has experience and control in these situations, so it wasnít our game today.Ē
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari