The AFC.com reports on Bangkok women challenge

AFC Women
Courtesy: The AFC.com

Back to back tournament MVP honours for Asia's great Karimi

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Bangkok: As Islamic Republic of Iran celebrated a second consecutive AFC Women’s Futsal Championship final win over Japan, Fereshteh Karimi continued the theme and confirmed herself as a continental great by winning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award for the second time.

The 29-year-old delivered what could only be described as the perfect tournament in Bangkok, scoring five goals and, remarkably, winning player of the match honours in all five of Iran’s matches.

The scorer of the tournament-deciding goal in Malaysia three years ago, Karimi also left her mark on this year’s decider, playing a major role in Misato’s Komura’s 30th minute own goal, before setting up Sara Shirbeigi to make it 3-0 moments later.

Speaking moments after Iran’s sensational 5-2 win, Karimi spoke of the significance of lifting the trophy for a second time.

“For women’s sport in Iran, the futsal team is the only team that has the ability to be an Asian champion,” she said.

“The national teams in other sports don’t have this ability and that’s why this is so important.

“Iranians are very emotional people, especially our women. This championship is the big opportunity for us to be more famous in the country, and the way we dress is unique and different from the other teams.

“All the people, especially our families, are so happy about this achievement.”

The 29-year-old graciously accepted the award, but said team success was at the forefront of her goals before thanking Iran’s technical staff.

“First of all I was thinking about how I could help the team. I knew that if I could help the team then I could be the MVP of the tournament,” she revealed.

“Before the final our staff analysed Japan for us very well. We had two sessions of analysing them and our plan was to make Japan tired in the first half, then try to score in the second half.

“That was our plan and thankfully it worked. We really need to give our thanks to our staff.”

Iran head coach Shahrzad Mozafar paid tribute to Karimi, saying her dual achievement is evidence of her standing as one of the game’s greats.

“Congratulations to Fereshteh,” she said. “To be the MVP of the tournament for the second time means that she is one of the really great players in Asia and, to me, in the world.”

Iran’s hat-trick hero in the final, Sara Shirbeigi (pictured below) won the award for the tournament’s top scorer. The 26-year-old finished level with teammate Fatemeh Etedadi and Japan’s Anna Amishiro with nine goals, but won the award by virtue of contributing three assists, compared to her competitors’ two.

Karimi thanked her teammates, giving special praise to the goal scoring duo as well as star goalkeeper Farzaneh Tavasoli.

“All the Iranian players are the MVP, and they should all be here beside me accepting this award.

“The top scorers, Sara and Fatemeh have been among the best players in this tournament, as well as our goalkeeper Farzaneh.”

Iran also claimed the Fair Play Award to take a clean sweep of the honours.


Most Valuable Player – Fereshteh Karimi (IRN)

Top Goal Scorer – Sara Shirbeigi (IRN) – 9 Goals

Fair Play Award – Islamic Republic of Iran

Courtesy: The AFC.com

Mozafar: This is the best moment of my life

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Bangkok: 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.”

Posted by Luca Ranocchiari --> luca.ranocchiari@futsalplanet.com


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