Category: Futsal

FIFA Futsal World Cup 2024 Draw

Draw throws up engrossing groupsShare

The six groups for Uzbekistan 2024 were set at the official draw in Samarkand’s resplendent Registan Square.

Group A: Uzbekistan, Netherlands, Paraguay, Costa Rica
Group B: Brazil, Cuba, Croatia, Thailand
Group C: Argentina, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Angola
Group D: Spain, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Libya
Group E: Portugal, Panama, Tajikistan, Morocco
Group F: Iran, Venezuela, Guatemala, France

Hosts Uzbekistan, Netherlands, Paraguay, and Costa Rica will compete in one of the widest-open groups in FIFA Futsal World Cup™ history, while three reigning continental champions – Portugal, Panama and Morocco – will join Tajikistan in the first round. Title contenders Spain and Kazakhstan will collide in Group D. They have first-timers New Zealand and Libya for company. Record five-time champions Brazil went into a pool with Cuba, Croatia, and fast-emerging Thailand. Afghanistan, who will appear in a FIFA competition for the first time since 1948, will face 2016 champions Argentina, Ukraine, and Angola. Samarkand’s resplendent Registan Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the ancient Silk Road, provided one of the most spectacular settings ever for the draw of a FIFA tournament. It was conducted by FIFA Director of Tournaments Jaime Yarza, with Uzbek football legend Server Djeparov, former Manchester United and France striker Louis Saha and Kike, who inspired Spain to back-to-back FIFA Futsal World Cup crowns, providing assistance.

Brazil and Spain conquered the first seven editions of the FIFA Futsal World Cup between them, five and two times apiece. Thereafter, Argentina and Portugal have etched their names on the trophy. Several emerging powers are threatening to do the same at this year’s finals, which begin on 14 September. Afghanistan, France, New Zealand, and Tajikistan will be making their tournament debuts, while Croatia and the Netherlands return for the first time in almost a quarter-century.

FIFA Futsal Men’s World Ranking

1st – Brazil 2nd – Portugal 3rd – Spain 4th – IR Iran 5th – Argentina 6th – Morocco 8th – Kazakhstan 9th – Thailand 10th – France 11th – Uzbekistan 12th – Ukraine 13th – Paraguay 16th – Croatia 19th – New Zealand 21st – Venezuela 30th – Afghanistan 31st – Costa Rica 34th – Tajikistan 36th – Netherlands 40th – Guatemala 44th – Panama 47th – Angola 50th – Libya 78th – Cuba

FIFA First ever Futsal Ranking

  • Futsal nations around the world ranked globally for the first time
  • Brazil tops both men’s and women’s charts; Portugal and Spain complete top three
  • Rankings will be key reference point for world futsal

FIFA has launched the official FIFA Futsal World Ranking, with powerhouses Brazil the first number-one nation on both the men’s and women’s chart as the rapidly growing sport takes another major step forward.

Iran’s Futsal Team Melli, recently crowned as AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2024 is ranked 4 in the list which will be regularly published, but unlike the FIFA Football Ranking, this will not be monthly!

Although the FIFA/Coca-Cola Men’s World Ranking for football has existed since December 1992, and women’s senior national teams have been officially ranked by FIFA since 2003, that has not previously been the case for futsal. However, the indoor game has enjoyed exponential growth in recent years and this milestone moment represents the natural next step, as well as being the first time that FIFA men’s and women’s rankings have been launched concurrently.

Broadcasts of the FIFA Futsal World Cup™ in Lithuania in 2021 attracted an average of 2.42 million viewers per match, a massive 130 percent increase from the previous edition in 2016. The FIFA Futsal World Cup Uzbekistan 2024™, which will be the first FIFA tournament staged in Central Asia, is likely to improve even on those impressive numbers, and a historic first FIFA Futsal Women’s World Cup™ will be held in 2025. Against this backdrop, FIFA has rolled out global rankings for its member associations’ women’s and men’s senior futsal national teams in recognition of the dynamic development of and global interest in the sport.

The initial rankings have been based on statistics gathered from over 4,600 FIFA ‘A’ matches. FIFA defines an international ‘A’ match as a match between two FIFA members for which both members field their first representative team (‘A’ team).

The new ranking system will also serve to seed teams for all upcoming editions of the FIFA Futsal World Cup – including during the recently announced draw for the 2024 competition in Uzbekistan. The system will likewise be used for qualification processes and enable comprehensive and consistent data to be gathered to monitor member associations in accordance with the FIFA Regulations Governing International Matches. That will support the prevention of practices that jeopardize the integrity of the sport, such as match manipulation.

In the nine editions of the FIFA Futsal World Cup to date, the inaugural top-ranked men’s side, Brazil, have been crowned champions five times and only failed to finish on the podium once. They are closely followed on the chart by Portugal, who arrive at this year’s FIFA Futsal World Cup as the holders and have won the last two European crowns. Spain, the two-time world (2000 and 2004) and seven-time European champions, are third in the standings.

Brazil’s women’s national team have been just as dominant as their male counterparts, having won all seven of the South American championships that they have contested. Spain and Portugal are again behind them on the women’s ranking, albeit in reverse order: three-time European champions Spain are second, with Portugal – who have finished runners-up to their Iberian rivals in two continental finals – in third.

Fans interested in attending the FIFA Futsal World Cup Uzbekistan 2024™ can register to receive ticketing updates here.

Futsal Team Melli powers to 13th title

SUN, 28 APRIL, 2024

Bangkok: I Iran waltzed their way to a record-extending 13th title with a 4-1 win over Thailand in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Thailand 2024 final on Sunday. 

Iran seized control from the start at the Bangkok Arena to deny Thailand a maiden title as the Central Asian side made up for losing to Japan in the decider of the 2022 edition.

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Iran head coach Vahid Shamsaei was glad his side had redeemed themselves from losing the 2022 final.

“I remember the day I lost the 2022 final against Japan. I had to apologize to everyone, especially to the Iranian fans. Today, I’m happy that they stayed patient with me and I want to dedicate this trophy to everyone back home, especially my late father, who did not see me win the trophy as a head coach,” said Shamsaei.

Thailand head coach Miguel Rodrigo felt his side could have done better.

“I’m very sad for the Thailand fans, they truly deserve another game. We played with our hearts and I will never forget this day, that we played in the final at Bangkok Arena. I’m very disappointed but at the same time, we lost to a superior team,” said Rodrigo.

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Iran got off to a fine start, taking the lead in the first minute off a set-piece situation when Salar Aghapour teed-up Mahdi Karimi, who finished into the bottom corner of the net from the top of the arc.

Thailand, despite being urged on by the partisan crowd, struggled to break through, with Krit Aransanyalak finding his advances on the right flank consistently halted by Iran’s solid defending.

Thailand keeper Arut Senbat was kept on his toes, having to block Karimi’s forced drive from the left flank, before seeing Alireza Rafiei Pour pull his effort wide from inside the box.

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The hosts had their first look on goal in the fourth minute when Alongkorn Janphon lost his marker at the centre before playing the ball square to the advancing Therdsak Charoenphong, who fired his effort over the bar.

A lapse in concentration saw Thailand concede again in the fifth minute when Mohammadreza Sangsefidi played the ball on for the overlapping Moslem Oladghobad on the right flank, who supplied a pinpoint cross for Saeid Ahmad Abbasi to score his eighth goal of the tournament. 

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Thailand refused to concede defeat, with Suphawut Thueanklang seeing his set-piece effort saved by Iran keeper Bagher Mohammadi, who then did well to force Panut Kittipanuwong’s shot wide in a one on one situation.

The onus was on Thailand to find their way back and they did so in spectacular fashion in the 25th minute when Jirawat Sornwichian exchanged passes with Muhammad Osamanmusa before darting through centre and chipping the ball over Mohammadi.

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A relentless Iran responded two minutes later off a set-piece situation when Sangsefidi lofted the perfect cross to an unmarked Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh to volley home to regain their two-goal advantage.

Thailand, desperate to reduce the deficit in the second half, opted for the power play, but the move proved costly in the 34th minute as Mohammadi gained possession in his area before lofting the ball over to score Iran’s fourth to confirm his nation’s 13th AFC Futsal Asian Cup title. 

.Futsal Team Melli to the final match

Bangkok: Goalkeeper Bagher Mohammadi was the star a Iran defeated Uzbekistan 5-4 on penalties after their AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand™ 2024 semi-final ended 3-3 after extra-time on Friday.

Mohammadi saved two spot-kicks as Iran advanced to Sunday’s final against hosts Thailand, with the Central Asian side seeking a record-extending 13th AFC Futsal Asian Cup title. 

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Iran earned a free-kick in a dangerous position just seconds into the tie but Uzbekistan were quick to snuff out the attempt, with Ikhtiyor Ropiev playing the ball on for the overlapping Khusniddin Nishonov, who dragged his effort just inches off the right post.

It was a tense opening minutes with neither side giving an inch of space with Iran’s Salar Aghapour seeing his effort from a distance saved by Uzbekistan keeper Abbos Elmurodov, while at the other end Aghapour needed to step in to foil Ilkhomjon Khamroev’s challenge.

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Iran, however, struck in the third minute when Aghapour weaved his way down the left flank before unleashing his shot which took a deflection off Uzbekistan’s Mashrab Adilov before settling in the back of the net.

Uzbekistan, however, fought back and drew level in the ninth minute with Sunatulla Juraev’s free-kick from distance beating a diving Bagher Mohammadi.

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It was end to end action with Iran keeping Elmurodov busy with an array of shots from Saeid Ahmad Abbasi, while Mohammadi was also tested when he had to keep out Khamroev’s effort.

It was Uzbekistan who scored next, Abror Akhmetzyanov initially deflecting Mohammadhossein Derakhshani’s pass, with Khamroev then laying the ball for Nishonov to set up Akhmetzyanov for a simple tap-in.

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Iran turned up the tempo in the second half and drew level in the 24th minute when the unfortunate Akhmetzyanov turned in Moslem Oladghobad’s free-kick from the left flank.

Uzbekistan suffered another blow in the 27th minute when Adilov received his marching orders after picking up his second yellow card leaving the door open for Iran, who retook the lead two minutes later.

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Aghapour sent a delightful cross to an unmarked Behrooz Azimihematabadi, who had the simplest of touches to put the ball into the back of the net from close range leaving Elmurodov stunned.

Iran, however, suffered a lapse in concentration in the 35th minute when Juraev dispossessed Mahdi Karimi on the right flank before supplying the cross for Akhmetzyanov to slot home the equaliser in an unattended goal.

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Abbasi came close to scoring in the closing stages of the first period when his angled overhead kick sailed above the bar, while Ropiev forced a fine fingertip save from Mohammadi with the Iranian custodian saved Nishonov’s effort from distance.

Mohammadi then saved the first and sixth Uzbekistan spot-kicks as Iran moved within a match of yet another AFC Futsal Asian Cup title. 

Iran Uzbekistan- Futsal Semi-Final

Preview - Semi-final: Uzbekistan  v IR Iran

Bangkok: Uzbekistan will encounter their toughest challenge yet when they go head-to-head with Iran in the semi-finals of the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand™ 2024 at the Bangkok Arena on Friday.

Both sides are in great form, having won their previous four matches en route to the semi-finals with Uzbekistan showing nerves of steel to defeat Vietnam in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, thanks to Sunatulla Juraev’s last-gasp goal. 

Head coach Jose Venancio Lopez knows it will be even tougher against 12-time champions Iran. 

“Facing Iran is a different proposition altogether. They are undeniably one of the best teams in the world and are rightfully considered favorites,” said Lopez.

#ACFutsal2024 | Quarter-final : Uzbekistan 2 - 1 Vietnam

“It’s difficult to figure out how to beat Iran. We’re aware of their high-quality play. However, in one game, anything is possible, and we’ll strive to do everything within our power to achieve our target.”

Iran, on the other hand, have been cruising through the tournament and booked their semi-final spot with a 6-1 win over Kyrgyz Republic but head coach Vahid Shamsaee wants his team to remain focused.  

“We know it’s going to be a tough match, both physically and tactically, and we’re determined to show the best performance we can,” said Shamsaee.

#ACFutsal2024 | Quarter-final : IR Iran 6 - 1 Kyrgyz Republic

“The past is the past. We had friendly games with Uzbekistan before this tournament, but there’s a significant difference between the Uzbek team and my team. Each team possesses unique conditions and physical attributes. Right now, our focus is solely on the next game, and we aim to maintain our concentration.

“With each game, we’re improving. We had two targets, and yesterday, we achieved one by qualifying for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Uzbekistan 2024. After our quarter-final game, all my players understood their roles. They know what they need to do tomorrow: to fight until the end without stress and with the hope of delivering a good performance.”

Uzbekistan  v Iran  
Venue: Bangkok Arena (Bangkok)
Kick-off: 17:00 (UTC+3) – Iran Time: 17:30 (UTC+3:30)  

Tajikistan makes history in Futsal.

Bangkok: Fayzali Sardorov’s extra-time winner saw Tajikistan edge out Afghanistan 2-1 in Wednesday’s AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Thailand 2024 quarter-final to secure a place in the semi-finals for the first time and qualification for a maiden FIFA Futsal World Cup.

Afghanistan, meanwhile, will need to wait for the outcome of the day’s last quarter-final tie between Uzbekistan and Vietnam to learn whether their campaign has concluded, or they will return to action in Friday’s play-off semi-finals.

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Tajikistan head coach Pairav Vakhidov was proud of his players for creating history. 

“It was a very tough match, and the players were under pressure to get the result. We told the players to show their game and not to panic and, fortunately, luck was on our side,” said Vakhidov.

“Two years ago, at the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Kuwait 2022 we reached the quarter-finals but we lost, this time we won and qualified for our first-ever FIFA Futsal World Cup. It’s an unbelievable emotion what I’m feeling right now, I can’t even put it into words.”

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Afghanistan tactician Majid Mortezaei applauded his players for matching Tajikistan in the pulsating encounter.

“Both teams played very well, and I want to say thank you to all my players, they played very well,” said Mortezaei.

“We have played with Tajikistan many times before, so we knew what to expect. The game was very difficult for us, and I would say the difference was their defence was very good.  Even after they had a player sent off, they kept us out and their goalkeeper played fantastic and made some great saves right at the end.”

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Tajikistan made a strong start and Reza Jafari was called into action early by Nekruz Alimakhmadov, before Dilshod Salomov drew an even better save from the Afghanistan custodian on eight minutes.

Salomov forced Jafari into another smart save on 16 minutes, but Afghanistan were stung into action and began to turn the tide as captain Akbar Kazemi hit the post after Firuz Bekmurodov was unable to hold Mehran Gholami’s initial effort.

But it was Tajikistan who opened the scoring against the run of play as Komron Aliev’s run down the left resulted in a cross that was turned into his own net by Reza Hossein Poor two minutes before the break.

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The scores were level just three mins after the restart, though, as Farzad Mahmoodi ran onto a lay-off from Kazemi and drilled his low shot past Bekmurodov.

Afghanistan were then close to taking the lead themselves on the 26th minute when a long ball up court found Kazemi’s head only to see the ball crash against the post.

With under four minutes left on the clock there was more drama to come as Tajikistan went down to four men following Idris Yorov’s second yellow card of the match.

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But even with a man advantage for the two minute-penalty period, no further goals were forthcoming, and the tie went to extra-time.

After a goalless first period, Tajikistan’s moment of history came in the second minute of the second period after a nerveless 10-metre penalty from Sardorov etched his name into his country’s record books.

Futsal Team Melli turn on the power

Iran booked their place in the semi-finals of the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand™ 2024 after defeating the Kyrgyz Republic 6-1 in their last-eight tie at the Bangkok Arena on Wednesday.

The win meant the 12-time champions also punched their ticket to the FIFA Futsal World Cup Uzbekistan 2024, with a meeting against Uzbekistan or Vietnam in Friday’s semi-finals.

Kyrgyz Republic, meanwhile, will need to wait for the outcome of the day’s last quarter-final between Uzbekistan and Vietnam to learn whether their campaign has concluded, or they will return to action in Friday’s playoffs.

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Iran head coach Vahid Shamsaei said his players found the opening minutes difficult as they were not used to the court conditions.

“We had to acclimatize to the conditions of the court surface as we did not play in this arena in the group stage. However, the players knew what they had to do and we had the perfect second half,” said Shamsaei.

“I’m proud of my players as we also qualified for the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Uzbekistan later this year. Even though Japan are not here in this competition, the quality of the other teams has improved.”

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Kyrgyz Republic head coach Luis Molina was proud of his players despite the heavy defeat.

“I think we played a very good first half but unfortunately for us, we had two players absent due to suspension. We were fighting for 20 minutes with Iran and this was not an easy level. As we approached the end of second half, the players were fatigued,” said Molina.

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Kyrgyz Republic, who lost all their three previous encounters against Iran, had the first look at goal in the opening minute when keeper Bekbolot Akmataliev sent a long ball for Daniiar Talaibekov, who couldn’t get his header on target.

Akmataliev’s reflexes were put to the test moments later when he thwarted Salar Aghapour’s grounded effort and then kept out Behrooz Azimihematabadi twice before the Iran No 14 was denied by the bar followed by a block on Ali Khalilvand’s effort from distance.

Iran continued pressing and broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when Azimi found space down the centre to strike the ball into the top right corner of the net.

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Kyrgyz Republic responded immediately, equalizing a minute later when Akmataliev squared the ball to Amanbaev Donierbek, who beat his marker on the turn before slotting home a grounded effort, leaving Iran keeper Bagher Mohammadi stunned.

Iran restored their lead two minutes later when they were awarded a free-kick with Aghapour curling his effort over the wall and into the top right corner.

Kyrgyz Republic fell further behind three minutes after the restart when they were caught on the counter-attack when Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh played on the ball for Saeid Abbasi to strike home from just above the arc past a diving Akmataliev.

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Despite Kyrgyz Republic’s best efforts, Iran scored their fourth in the 25th minute after Abbasi gained possession before squaring it to Hassanzadeh to tee up Mahdi Karimi to slot the ball through the legs of Akmataliev.

Karimi doubled his tally in the 35th minute after collecting the ball off Aghapour’s cutback from the left flank to slot home on the turn from the top of the box before Hassanzadeh made it 6-1 from the penalty spot.

Afghanistan book historic berth

MON, 22 APRIL, 2024

Bangkok: Afghanistan made history by reaching the AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Thailand 2024 knockout stage in their debut after defeating Bahrain 3-2 at Bangkok Arena on Monday. 

With Group D winners Iran beating Kuwait 4-0 at Hua Mark Indoor Stadium, Afghanistan leapfrogged the West Asians on goal difference to take second place in the group.

Afghanistan will now face Group C winners Tajikistan in the quarter-finals for a place at the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Uzbekistan.

Coming into the tie Afghanistan knew that a win was the first priority in keeping their qualification hopes alive, but it was Bahrain who began the stronger with Saleh Sanjar stinging the fingertips of goalkeeper Javad Safari two minutes in.

The Central Asians responded in the fifth minute, however, and Mohamed Al Sandi made Safari’s opposite number, Amin Mohamed, pull off a flying save to tip over.

And in their next attack Afghanistan had the lead they craved. Jassam Saleh found Ali Al Araibi on the edge of the area, and he drilled his shot home.

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On the 10th minute mark Afghanistan went inches from doubling their lead when Saleh saw his low fizzer strike the foot of the post.

A well-worked set-piece saw Bahrain draw level with five minutes of the half remaining. Maysam Faizi’s ran over the ball and into the area and wasn’t picked up by the Afghanistan defence allowing Farzad Mahmoodi to find his teammate for an easy finish.

The turnaround was completed by Bahrain on the 17th minute as Mohammad Moradi was brought down in the area by Jafari and Sanjar confidently dispatched the resulting spot-kick.

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With 20 seconds of the half remaining Afghanistan could have drawn level only for Reza Hossein Poor’s blistering effort to cannon back off the intersection of crossbar and post.

Needing to restore parity as quickly as possible, Afghanistan came out with purpose and thought they had won a penalty four minutes into the second half only to see the video check determine the handball by Al Sandi was accidental.

But on the 25-minute mark, Afghanistan found their own leveller as Akbar Kazemi poked home at the second attempt after Mohamed’s initial save following Mehran Gholami’s corner-kick.

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And with six minutes remaining the lead was one more back in the hands of Majid Mortezaei’s men as Kazemi’s persisted down the right flank ended with a ball into the on-rushing Gholami who fired home.

Bahrain had a chance in the final minute, but Al Araibi scuffed his shot wide from close range and saw Afghanistan hold onto the lead and secure their place in AFC Futsal Asian Cup history.

The performance of CAFA Futsal teams has been perfect so far as Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan , and Uzbekistan, the 5 CAFA teams qualified to the finals of AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Thailand 2024 knockout stages.

It is unfortunate that two CAFA teams will be knocked out in the quarter finals as Iran will be meeting Kyrgyzstan who have defeated the defending champions, Japan, while Afghanistan will meet Tajikistan.

Futsal Team Melli with a perfect record after defeating Kuwait.

Bangkok: Iran were at their best as they sailed 4-0 past Kuwait in their AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand™ 2024 Group D tie at the Hua Mark Indoor Arena on Monday.

The victory meant Iran topped the table with nine points with a quarter-final against Kyrgyz Republic next in their bid to win a 13th title.

Defeat for Kuwait meant elimination as debutants Afghanistan finished ahead of them on goal difference with both teams tied on four points. 

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Kuwait needed just a draw to reach the knockout stage and were the first to settle with Naser Alalban almost finding a way through on the right before Iran’s Mohammadhossein Derakhshani pulled off a fine tackle to clear the danger.

The momentum switched instantly in Iran’s favour as Kuwait keeper Fahad Alkhawari had to repel a series of shots, first a rocket of an effort from Moslem Oladghobad in the third minute, followed by attempts from Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh and Mohammadreza Sangsefidi.

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The goal finally arrived for Iran in the eighth minute when Ali Akrami showed his individual brilliance, dribbling past his marker down the right flank before scoring from a tight angle with the ball taking a deflection off Abdulrahman Altawail.

Kuwait almost equalised in the 15th minute when Alalban gained possession from Iran’s Oladghobad down the right flank, exchanging passes with Altawail before squandering his effort at the end.

Iran increased their tally in the 17th minute when Karimi squared the ball to Salar Aghapour, whose shot took a deflection off Kuwait’s Ahmad Alfarsi before sailing past Alkhawari.

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Kuwait were desperate to reduce the deficit but their full-court press was ineffective when Alalban lost the ball to Saeid Ahmad Abbasi, who struck cooly from the halfway line into an unattended net to put the score 3-0 going into the break.

Kuwait started the second half with the same intensity as the first half and threatened with Saleh Alfadhel testing Iran keeper Saeid Momeni from distance, while Altawail could only hit the side netting when he forced his effort from down the right flank in the 26th minute.

Iran’s futsal struggle to beat Bahrain

Bangkok: Iran became the first team from Group D to secure a spot in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand™ 2024 quarter-finals following a thrilling 5-3 win over Bahrain on Saturday.

Saeid Abbasi starred with two goals for Iran, who will face Kuwait on Monday, while Bahrain takes on Afghanistan.

Bahrain will be disappointed with the result after having twice taken the lead in the pulsating tie. 

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Iran dominated the early minutes, channeling a barrage of shots in the direction of Bahrain keeper Sayed Abbas, with Alireza Rafiei Pour’s attempt grazing the left post in the opening minute.

Saeid Abbasi should have scored for the 12-time champions in the third minute when Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh sent a through ball to the top of the box, only for the Iran No 9 to hit his effort straight into the arms of Abbas.

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Abbas then denied Mahdi Karimi twice, first keeping out an angled shot from the left and then a long-range effort from the center before the Bahraini custodian foiled Rafiei Pour’s shot from distance and then produced a point-blank save to keep Saeid Abbasi out.

Iran were left frustrated again when Behrooz Azimihematabadi appeared to have found the right angle in the sixth minute from just outside the box only for his effort to be denied by the right post.

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Bahrain gradually settled down and took the game to Iran and were rewarded in the 10th minute when Ali Alaraibi slotted home the rebound after his initial effort was blocked by Iran keeper Bagher Mohammadi.

Iran responded immediately, Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh’s clever set-piece finding Rafiei Pour, who dinked the ball past Abbas.

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However, Bahrain struck again with two minutes left on the clock when Mohamed Alsandi sent a delightful through ball for Saleh Sanjar to strike home from close range.

Saleh Sanjar had a chance to further extend Bahrain’s advantage but was denied from the spot by Mohammadi just before the break. 

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Iran came out fighting in the second half and leveled the score in the 22nd minute when Abbasi found an unmarked Karimi, who finished with aplomb from inside the box.

Iran then took the lead for the first time seven minutes later through Abbasi’s effort from a tight angle but their joy was short-lived as Bahrain refused to give up.

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The West Asian side equalized a minute later with Ali Alaraibi initiating the move from his defensive end before finishing a well-orchestrated team move himself from close range.

Iran underlined their superiority when they regained the lead in the 33rd minute with Azimihematabadi striking a powerful shot from the edge of the box which escaped the clutches of Abbas 

Abbasi scored Iran’s fifth goal when he pounced on Alsandi’s poor pass before sending the ball from above the half-way line into an unattended goalmouth to seal the victory.