Coach: Mohamed Ranjbar
After narrow and difficult wins in the semi-finals by both teams, defending champion Iran faced South Korea to reclaim the ultimate title in Asian football. Both the nations were previous winners, and both had not-so-easy path to the final.
The humid condition of Thailand took its toll and resulted in some lackluster performances in this tournament. It was not expected to be a great final as both the coaches were aware of the threat that the other could create on counter attacks and preferred to pace themselves accordingly.
In the beginning of the match, the Korean team started strongly and confidently by controlling the game in the first few minutes. The ball hardly left the Iranian half in this period with some serious Koreans attacks, that lacked clinical finishing and had to deal with a solid Iranian defense and one of the best goalkeeper in Asia, Iran’s Nasser Hejazi.
The Iranians fearing the threat of an early goal slowly took over with the midfield players Ghurab and Ghleechkhani playing a major role by keeping possession with short triangular passes. On the other hand, Iran’s defense also played a good part by initiating the attacks from the right flank. Iranian right back, Ibrahim Ashtiani. created many good scoring opportunities by his accurate crosses. Parviz Ghleechkhani who shot powerfully, but missed the target by a few inches created first Iranian threat.
It was apparent the both teams had too much respect for each other and the players of both sides were too nervous, which resulted in many erratic passes and frequent fouls. The referee was a very busy man in the first half.
In the 11th minute a powerful shot by the Koreans was parried by Iran’s goalkeeper, Hejazi for a corner.
Both of Iranian forwards, Hussain Kalani and Homayoun Behzadi, players with great heading abilities were handicapped by the Korean defenders who marked them closely and effectively. Minute 20th. A Korean defender was suspected of handling the ball after a good Iranian attack, however the referee had other ideas.
Minute 22- Javad Ghurab after a beautiful one-two ball penetrated the Korean defense but was tripped just outside the penalty area. The Korean Goalkeeper easily handled the subsequent free kick by Iran’s midfield dynamo, Ali Jabbari.
The game continued eventless except for a couple of attacks by Kalani and Ghleechkhani which put the Korean goalkeeper under pressure but no goals were scored in the first half.
The start of the second half was announced with a thunderous shot from the legendary Ghleechkhani, whose shot missed the bar by inches. The powerful midfielder of Iran, could barely believe his luck as he did everything right to open the scoring for his country. There was a great sigh of relief by the Korean fans when this ball just missed the target.
The Koreans replies with some good movements and the ball sent to the Iranian penalty box but Hejazi coolly dealt with it. He immediately dispatched the ball to his right back.
Ashtiani received the ball from Hejazi and slowly ventured forward. He spotted Ghulhussain Mazloomi in acres of space and passed him the ball. Mazloomi, took the ball from just inside his half and dribble through just short of the Korean penalty area, smartly beating 3 Korean players on his way before sending the ball to Jabbari on his right. Jabbari took the ball inside the penalty area and sent the ball using his left foot into the Korean goal to score.
The Iranian celebration did not last very long as Park Ae sent a beautiful 20-meter shot into the Iranian net, with Hejazi helpless to score the equalizer for Korea.
After the equalizer, the Koreans sensed that victory is within grabs and embark on series of attacks that created good opportunities. Hejazi, in Iran’s goal was the hero of the moment after two great saves. The Iranian coach, Mohammed Ranjbar, sensed the Korean threat at this stage and immediately saw the need foe some new blood in the team with some tactical changes. The humid condition of Bangkok was taking its toll as he subsequently made two substitutions with Safar Iranpak replacing Mazloomi in attack and Monajati was sent in to take over from Jabbari in midfield.
Iran recovered from the waves of the Korean attacks, and had some good opportunities themselves, however the deadlock could not be broken and the match were extended to extra-time.
In the first half of the extra time, none of the team showed any initiative as both were treading cautiously and not venturing into attack. In the second half, Behzadi, was at the end of a long ball , headed to Kalani in front of the Korean goal. Kalani, immediately beat his marker and shoot into the Korean goals from 6 meters. Iran was leading 2-1.
Frantic attacks in the remaining period by the Koreans were not effective enough