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Iran continue futsal reign

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AFC - Iran's reign as the kings of Asian futsal continued for a sixth consecutive year as they beat Japan 5-3 in the final of the World Futsal Championship 2004 - Asian Qualifiers at the Pavilhae Polidesportivo Stadium on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Thailand will join Iran and Japan at the FIFA World Futsal Championship 2004 in Chinese Taipei later this year after coming from behind to defeat Uzbekistan 3-1 to win the third place playoff in the tournament, which doubles as the AFC Futsal Championship.

Iran were favourites going into the final but their 37-match winning streak in the tournament looked to be in trouble early on as they fell behind to a goal by Kenichiro Kogure after only three minutes.

However, the Iranians showed their class as Mohammad Hashemzadeh levelled in the ninth minute before Kazem Mohammadi put them ahead three minutes later. Skipper Mohammad Reza Heidarian then scored in the 17th minute to put his side 3-1 up at the break.

Hashemzadeh notched his second of the match in the 28th minute before tournament leading scorer Vahid Shamsaee found the net for the 33rd time in seven games to make it 5-1.

Late goals by Suzumura Takuya and Rikarudo Higa proved to be mere consolation as Japan finished runners-up to Iran in the competition for the third straight year after losing 6-0 in 2001 and 6-4 last year.

In the third place match, Anucha Manjarern scored twice as Thailand came from behind to beat the Uzbekistan.

Uzbek skipper Shawkat Abduraimov gave his side the lead three minutes before half-time but Anucha tied up the score five minutes into the second half.

Pasert Innui gave the Thais the lead in the 29th minute before Anucha made the game safe by scoring his second with seven minutes remaining.

Iranian captain Mohammad Reza Heidarian was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

World Futsal Championship 2004 - Asian Qualifiers
Final
Iran 5 Japan 3

Third Place playoff
Thailand 3 Uzbekistan 1

Iran are Asia's futsal kings yet again

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