AFC - Victorious Islamic Republic of Iran head coach Shahrzad Mozafar revealed her delight at winning the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018, labelling the success a crowning accomplishment in her life.
The Iranians were magnificent in the final. Scoring five goals in the second half to blow Japan away with a 5-2 win.
It was their second successive title, but the first under Mozafar’s tutelage, and she shared her joy at taking her country to the top of the Asian women’s futsal mountain.
“I’m so happy at this moment. Actually, I’ve been waiting for this moment for many years,” she said.
“This is the best moment of my life.”
After producing a string of impressive displays and winning every match on the road to the decider, Iran’s performance on the final stage was their best in the eyes of their mentor.
“I think that was the best performance of our team,” she declared.
“The final is always a really unique match. The players are stressed and you have to control it, so I want to thank all of my assistants and staff.”
The 48-year-old also revealed the detail of her preparation for a match against a Japanese side which bore little resemblance to the one that won silver at last year’s Asian Indoor Games, where Iran finished third.
“In the past years we have had several matches with Japan, but in every tournament they have a different team,” she explained.
“Japan were so different from 2015 and also from the 2017 Asian Indoor Games in Turkmenistan. We could see some new players and new staff. We knew that this was a new team and that something had changed in them.
“I think their performance was fantastic in the semi-final against Thailand. We focused on their big two matches against China and against Thailand, and they had a lot of set play tactics.
“We were so ready for that, and we were also ready for the power play. I think it was a really brilliant performance from our defence in this match. We we were able to score five goals because of how well we defended in the first half.”
Mozafar congratulated tournament MVP Fereshteh Karimi and prolific goal scorers Sara Shirbeigi and Fatemeh Etedadi, but reserved special acclaim her consistently outstanding goalkeeper Farzaneh Tavasoli (pictured below).
“I think Farzaneh is the best goalkeeper in Asia,” she said.
“In 2015 and also at this tournament she has been brilliant, and she also deserves a trophy for her performances.”
While Mozafar basked in the joy of victory, Japan head coach was left to rue his side’s defeat.
The East Asians arguably had the better of the first half, but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard, which Kenichiro Kogure acknowledged.
“In the first half we had a lot of chances but we couldn’t score,” he said.
“We didn’t have much time (before the tournament) for preparation and for a lot of our players this is their first time.”
The former AFC Futsal Championship-winning player also spoke of the difference between domestic futsal and the highest level of the Asian game.
“In Japan the national futsal league just started last year so it’s a different environment between playing in Japan at an Asian tournament,” said the 38-year-old
“In this tournament one mistake can change the result of the match, so I need the players to overcome this situation.”
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