Courtesy: Gulf NewsKings of Asian Futsal are the team to beatStrong iran squad target afc title in 16-team competition which begins in dubai today
by Alaric GomesMay 25, 2012
Dubai: Futsal powerhouse Iran are eyeing a record 11th title as the AFC Futsal Championship, which kicks off at the Al Wasl and Al Shabab indoor halls from today.
They have won all but one of the 12 tournaments so far, and therefore remain the team to beat, earning the label ‘the Kings of Asian Futsal.'
It's no surprise, therefore, that the Iran coach Ali Sanei is confident of more success when the final is held on June 1.
Speaking at yesterday's pre-tournament press conference, he said: "For us, all matches are equally important, but the most important one is the first match [against South Korea] tomorrow. Our target is to go to the Fifa World Cup and, at the same time, we also have the Asian title in mind. We believe we can repeat our performance once more."
Heading the list of challengers are fast-improving countries like Thailand, Japan, Uzbekistan, Australia and China. And, while they have certainly made strides in bridging the gap between themselves and the Iranians, they have still some way to go.
Iran's record speaks for itself, as they are the sixth strongest team in the world. They have played in five of the Fifa Futsal World Championship, reaching the semi-finals in their first appearance in 1992.Lofty aim
In the AFC Futsal Championship, only Japan have broken their hegemony, winning it in 2006 when the event was held in Uzbekistan. Iran's first task is to get past Australia, South Korea and Qatar in Group C to advance to the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, tournament debutants Qatar are targeting the lofty aim of finishing second to the defending champions in this group.
"Our first match [against Australia] will be the toughest and we want to start on a winning note as we want to stay in the running for the second spot along with Australia and South Korea," Qatar coach Abdul Bin Aim said.
UAE skipper Ahmad Mahmoud said: "For all of us, this is a new experience to play in a tournament like this. We are excited and we want to get a good result and prove that the UAE is doing well in Futsal.
"All the players cannot wait for the first game and all are ready for this challenge and we will prove it in the game tomorrow [against Turkmenistan]," he said.
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari