Courtesy: The AFC.comFive players to watchSunday, April 29, 2018
Bangkok: With the AFC Womenís Futsal Championship 2018 kicking off in Bangkok on Wednesday, the-AFC.com looks at five players to keep an eye on at the tournamentís second edition.Fereshteh Karimi (Islamic Republic of Iran)
The star and Most Valuable Player of the 2015 edition of the tournament, Karimi will look to lead Iran to back-to-back titles and reproduce the stunning form she showed in Malaysia three years ago.
The Tehran-born star scored six goals, including the winner in the final, and found the net a further five times as Iran took bronze at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
Long-considered one of Asiaís finest players, Thailand 2018 gives the 29-year-old the chance to further enhance her already-glittering reputation, and she will arrive high on confidence having scored as Iran drew 2-2 with Ukraine last week.Lyudmila Karachik (Uzbekistan)
The star of Uzbekistanís womenís football national team and 2017 Uzbek Female Footballer of the Year, Karachik will make her debut at an AFC futsal tournament after featuring in a number of outdoor competitions at the continental level.
While she has made her name on the football map, the Metallurg forward is no stranger to the five-a-side game, having played futsal throughout much of her junior career and fans of the Central Asians will be hoping for a repeat of her three goals in four matches in Uzbekistanís 2018 AFC Womenís Asian Cup qualifying campaign.Cheung Wai Ki (Hong Kong)
Another dual international, Cheung became the first Hong Kong international to win silverware in Australiaís prestigious W-League competition while playing for Brisbane Roar earlier this year. The 27-year-old also scored Hong Kongís only goal in their attempt to qualify for the 2018 AFC Womenís Asian Cup in Jordan.
Thailand 2018 will be Cheungís first AFC Womenís Futsal Championship, but she has previously appeared with distinction at the 2013 and 2017 editions of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
She found the net three times in Incheon five years ago, and scored a double as Hong Kong pushed eventual silver medallists Japan all the way in a 3-2 defeat last year.Sasicha Phothiwong (Thailand)
A key contributor when Thailand won gold at the SEA Games in Malaysia last August, and top scorer when when they repeated the dose at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat a month later, Sasicha Phothiwong enjoyed a 2017 to remember in the national shirt.
The 26-year-old made headlines with her six-goal performance in a 16-1 thrashing of Palestine in Ashgabat, but it was her two early goals in Thailandís 4-1 semi-final victory of China PR which proved most crucial in the Southeast Asiansí run to the gold medal.Shiori Nakajima (Japan)
So nearly the hero when Japan reached the final in 2015, Nakajima came desperately close to forcing the decider against Iran to extra-time, only to be denied on two occasions by Iranian goalkeeper Farzaneh Tavasoli.
The on-court leader was also influential as Japan had to settle for a second consecutive silver medal on the Asian stage in Ashgabat last year.
One of few players in the tournament to ply their trade in Europe, with Spainís FSF Mostoles, 29-year-old Nakajima will be hoping to take the East Asians one step further, and their first official Asian title.
Courtesy: The AFC.comContinent's elite to battle for titleMonday, April 30, 2018
Bangkok: Three years after the Islamic Republic of Iran became Asiaís first womenís futsal champions, the Continentís best national teams will battle for supremacy in Thailand for the second edition.
A total 29 matches in two world class venues over 11 days will produce one champion as national teams representing all five AFC regions prepare to go head to head in one of the Continent's thriving futsal hotspots.
Thailand will be looking to build on the gold medals they won at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Games in Ashgabat and SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur by claiming a first continental title on home soil.
They are expected to be challenged by reigning champions Iran, who swept all before them in Malaysia in 2015, winning all five matches and producing jaw-dropping goals to lift the trophy, with Fereshteh Karimi voted Most Valuable Player.
Not to be discounted are Japan - the most successful nation in Asian Indoor and Martial Games womenís futsal history - who were denied by a single Karimi goal in the final three years ago.
In addition to the established contenders, all eyes will be on the challenges mounted by the seven teams making their debut on the AFC Womenís Futsal Championship stage, with Bangladesh, Bahrain, Chinese Taipei, Lebanon, Indonesia, Macau and Turkmenistan all appearing for the first time.OPENING FIXTURES
May 2: Hong Kong v Indonesia, Thailand v Macau, Vietnam v Chinese Taipei, Malaysia v Bangladesh
May 3: China PR v Bahrain, Japan v Lebanon, Turkmenistan v IR IranVENUES
Huamark Indoor Stadium: 16 matches including final, semi-finals and third place match.
Bangkok Arena: 13 matches including opening match.
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari