The clash between Islamic Republic of Iran and Japan in Sunday’s AFC Futsal Championship 2018 final will be the best yet according to futsal star Mahdi Javid.
Iran may have cruised into their 13th AFC Futsal Championship Final but the 11-time winners will be in for their toughest test yet when they face former champions Japan, the team that defeated them in the 2014 climax, according to Javid.
“While I want to make it clear that all the other teams who have participated in this tournament are good, Japan are something special,” said the 30-year-old forward.
“They have been champions of Asia three times, have good players with good technique, and we respect them a lot as opponents.
“I believe the final will be a very exciting match and the quality of the play will be the highest the tournament has seen so far.”
Having faced off against each other on a number of occasions in AFC Futsal competitions, the Samurai Blue are no strangers to Iran, added team captain Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh.
“We have analysed Japan and have played them several times, so we know them very well and what we have to do in the game,” he said.
“I know many of their team, having played against them, so I can say that individuals like Kaoru Morioka are very good players. And, of course, any team that reach the final obviously have a high level of ability.
“Winning the title is very difficult but retaining it is even more of a challenge.”
Iran have not lost a game at the AFC Futsal Championship since that final in Ho Chi Min City four years ago, a run that stretches to 11 games unbeaten.
During that period, the Central Asians also famously reached secured the bronze medal at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2016, the best ever performance by an AFC Member Association at a FIFA Futsal event.
“The answer to why IR Iran is so good at futsal is: I believe Iranians are born to play futsal and it is in our blood,” added Javid.
“That’s why, in many cases, we’re better than others nations. Hopefully we can show that again in Sunday’s final.