AFC - Iran coach Hossein Shams hopes the nine-time AFC Futsal Championship winners' lethargic first-half performance against Australia was just a one off as they left it late to beat Australia 9-3 at Uzbekistan Sports Complex on Monday.
The defending champions struggled to open up an advantage in the first half as Australia battled hard to ensure they went into the break on level terms.
But Iran emerged after the break in dominant form and ultimately proved too much for their opponents as they booked their place in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
"In the first half we let our opponents play their strategy and tactics,” said Shams.
“Australia were really playing good but during the break I was able to wake up the guys, then they did all that was required of them. “
Australia coach Steven Knight, meanwhile, praised his players for more than matching their illustrious opponents throughout the first half.
"I am proud of my team,” he said. “Throughout the world there are few teams that can play with Iran on equal terms.
“We have achieved a draw in the first half, and that already says a lot. In the second half of the match the higher class of our opponent showed.”
The win for Iran means they are all but guaranteed first place in Group B but Australia play Tajikistan on Tuesday in a battle for second place.
Karmaletdinov lauds Tajik turnaround
Tajikistan coach Damir Karmaletdinov struggled to contain his emotions as his side bounced back from a hefty opening day defeat to Iran with a 4-3 win over Kuwait at Uzbekistan Sports Complex.
The central Asians had slumped to a 19-2 defeat to Iran but successfully regrouped to record their first win in Group B.
“At the moment I am filled with emotion and I'm very happy to win,” said Karmaletdinov. “Now we will try to beat Australia and stay longer in Uzbekistan.”
Kuwait coach Eisa Saadoun bemoaned his side's lack of luck as they saw their chances of progressing to the next stage ended.
“Frankly, we were not lucky,” he sad. “Apparently fate has decided that we have lost all chances for entering the next stage of the tournament.”
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