Bangkok: An ecstatic Islamic Republic of Iran claimed the inaugural AFC U-20 Futsal Championship title on Friday thanks to a narrow 2-0 win over Iraq at the Bangkok Arena.
The victory was Iran’s seventh straight success at the tournament, an imperious run of form that leaves the country proud owners of both the U-20 and senior AFC Futsal Championship crowns.
With all to play for and a large measure of national pride on the line, it was to be Sahand Rezapour who opened the scoring for Iran in the fourth minute, before Iraq – who were playing more offensively compared to their recent matches – came close to restoring parity through a Moamin Fawzi free-kick which goalkeeper Abolfazi Shabazi did well to save.
However, disaster was to strike for Iraq shortly after, Zaid Ali’s seemingly innocuous tackle somehow finding its way into his own goal to hand the Iranians a two-goal advantage midway through the first half.
Iran defended resolutely and maintained their lead going into the break, with Mohammad Jame and skipper Touhid Lotfi’s excellent partnership in the final third then threatening to put the game beyond Iraq after the restart.
With time running out, Iraq head coach Ali Talib’s side switched to a power play, a bold move that came close to reaping dividends and providing a glimmer of hope when Hasan Kadhim’s last minute shot fizzed narrowly wide.
However, it was not to be as an impressive Iran resolutely held on to seal the title and emphatically underline the country’s futsal prowess.
Iran: REZAPOUR 4’, ALI 10’ (OG)