Wed, Feb 07, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Iran prevail 5-3 over Iraq at AFC

RIGHT ATTITUDE:China’s victory over Myanmar gave the team third place in Group C and with luck and experience they could become a world-class team their coach said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Iran’s Abolghasem Orouji, right, tackles the ball from Iraq’s Zainal Abdeen yesterday in their Asian Football Confederation Futsal Championship Group C match at the University of Taipei’s Tianmu campus gymnasium.

Photo Courtesy of the Asian Football Confederation

Iran yesterday prevailed over regional rivals Iraq 5-3 to top Group C with three wins from three matches, while China picked up their first victory against Myanmar in the 2018 Asian Football Confederation Futsal (AFC) Championship at the University of Taipei’s Tianmu campus gymnasium.

Home fans were disappointed on Monday with Team Taiwan crashing out in a 3-1 loss to Vietnam at the contest.

The highly anticipated clash between Iran and Iraq proved to be a dramatic affair, with reigning champions Iran knocking back a strong challenge by Iraq.

Both sides had won their two previous matches against China and Myanmar, with 11-time Asian futsal champions Iran asserting their dominance with double-digit triumphs.

The Iraqi Lions of Mesopotamia surprised the defending champions with an opening goal in the seventh minute by Waleed Khalid.

Team Melli players were roused as Hossein Tayyebi knocked in a header to equalize the score a minute later.

Three-time AFC Futsal Player of the Year Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh lashed in a deflected shot for Iran to go ahead in the first half, for his seventh goal in the tournament.

After the intermission, Moslem Oladghobad doubled Iran’s lead and Iraq’s Firas Mohammed replied with a goal to close the gap to 3-2.

The Lions hang tough with close pitch battles opening up good opportunities at both ends of the field, but Farhad Tavakoli scored to restore Iran’s two-goal lead.

A quick response by Iraq saw Mohammed add his second goal to put Iran ahead 4-3.

Tayyebi secured the win for Iran with a blast from the top of the circle with less than three minutes remaining.

Team Melli are on top of the standings, while Iraq advanced to second-place finisher in the group.

“We know Iraq very well, as we play each other two to three times a year. They are a tough team who always play a tough game. It was clear Iraq wanted to be No. 1 in the group so they played a strong game,” Iran coach Mohammaad Nazemasharieh said after the game. “The games get harder and harder as the tournament progresses. The knockout stage is no joke, if you make mistakes you’ll be eliminated. We may look to be more conservative in some matches going forward.”

China finally had something to celebrate in Group C yesterday when they beat Myanmar 5-3 to finish third.

Myanmar opened the scoring with a strike by Nyein Min Soe, but China hit back with goals by Shen Shiming, Zhang Yameng and Gu Haito to close out the first half.

Following the intermission, Xu Yang and Zhang — with his second for China’s five-goal tally — to overcome the opposition.

“I believe we performed well in all three matches. Our team got better with every game. They showed the right attitude and that is something a team needs to have to be world-class. With a little bit more experience and luck, we could have achieved a better result,” China head coach Sergio Gargelli said. “Our target for the next championship is to get one of the spots for the FIFA Futsal World Cup. China is showing more commitment to the development of the game, which means more effort and a higher budget. We are two or three steps behind the top teams in the world, but we can close the gap really quickly if we continue at this pace.”

In the other results, Thailand trounced the Kyrgyz Republic 8-1, while Lebanon edged out Jordan 2-1 in their Group D preliminary-round games.

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