AFC - Sanaye Giti Pasand sealed their position as Group C winners after battling to a 3-2 victory over Japan’s Shriker Osaka in their final AFC Futsal Club Championship Vietnam 2017 group match on Monday.
With both teams having clinched their spots in the quarter-finals, Giti Pasand and Shriker Osaka were battling for Group C supremacy. Adding to the mix, with no way of predicting the outcome of their Group D opponents who only play tomorrow, both sides knew a victory would increase their chances of avoiding competition heavyweights and current Group D leaders Bluewave Chonburi.
Giti Pasand boast the more decorated trophy cabinet, but it was Shriker Osaka who took the lead with virtually the game’s first chance through Sota Shibano who rose above his marker before connecting exquisitely to Nobuya Osodo’s deflected cross inside 57 seconds.
The early goal served as wake-up call for the Iranians as they stormed forward with greater intent and purpose. It took Giti Pasand just three minutes to respond after Ali Asghar’s driving effort was redirected by Mohammad Zarei Savarchi who made no mistake from close range.
The 2012 champions were beginning to find their rhythm, reaping their reward six minutes later when Osodo gifted possession, rather uncharacteristically, to Savarchi who was just metres away from the Shriker goal-frame, and the Iranian did not require a second invitation to give his side the lead.
Soichiro Kakihara was unquestionably the busier of the two custodians and his quick reflexes kept his side in the game when he was forced to produce a double save, first from Abolghasem Orouji’s low drive, then again from Ahmad Esmaeilpour’s rebound.
The second half began with the same intensity as the first with Giti Pasand dominating possession, interchanging swiftly but patiently, attempting to break the stubborn Japanese formation. The best chance in the opening stages fell to Esmaeilpour but the forward failed to keep his pile-driving effort from sailing over the bar.
Nine minutes into the second half, the Japanese side's resilience finally paid dividends after some individual brilliance by Shibano. With his back facing the goal, the forward showed sublime control to juggle the ball twice as he turned from his marker before unleashing a powerful effort beyond a well beaten Sepehr Mohammadi.
In a last ditch attempt, the Japanese then took the risky decision to deploy the power play with just two minutes remaining, but saw their hopes diminished when Asghar scored to secure Giti Pasand a flawless group stage campaign.
Giti Pasand now await the runners-up from Group D in the quarter-finals. Second placed Shriker will battle the Group D winners, with both matches on Thursday.
Kenichiro Kogure (Shriker Osaka Head Coach)
"We came here to win, to be the group leaders. Yes, it was a risk to use the power play but we have been training for this situation for some time. It is just unfortunate today that it did not work in our favour. I am happy with our performance and now we look to prepare for the quarter-finals."
Alireza Afzal (Sanaye Giti Pasand Isfahan Head Coach)
"The Japanese team came here with nothing to lose. It was a high risk game with the pressure on us to deliver and I am happy with my players . We kept our composure throughout. We ran well, we cooperated and we defended as a team. We deserve our victory against a very good team.
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