The Iranians defeated Japan 6-0 in the final, thus matching their opponents record number of 3 titles.
The Islamic Republic of Iran are the new AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup champions. In the final played at the Jomtien Beach Arena in Pattaya, Thailand, the Team Melli showed no complacency and won 6-0 against Japan who were defending the title. Both teams now have 3 trophies in total. Oman took the third place play-off game by defeating the United Arab Emirates.
It was a tense start with neither team allowing the other space but it was Iran who had the first look on goal with Amir Akbari sending his overhead kick just above the bar.
Despite Japan’s man-marking, Iran scored the opening goal in spectacular fashion when Movahed Mohammadpour collected a long pass from keeper Seyedmahdi Mirjajili before finishing acrobatically in the fourth minute.
Japan struggled to find their footing and suffered another setback in the eighth minute with Mirjajili the orchestrator again when he set up Ali Mirshekari for another acrobatic finish leaving Shinya Shibamoto well beaten.
Three-time champions Japan came alive in the 11h minute with Takaaki Oba threatening with an overhead effort before Shibamoto’s long-range drive forced a fingertip save from Mirjajili.
Japan were missing the attacking play which had seen them breeze to the final and had no answer to Iran’s aggression when they conceded again in the 20th minute after Mirjajili’s throw was deflected by Movahed to an unmarked Moslem Mesigar to slam the ball home.
The East Asian side almost found a way through with Takuya Akaguma seeing his shot graze the bar before Ozu skied his free-kick in the closing stages, leaving them with a mountain to climb heading into the break.
Iran piled more misery on Japan in the 29th minute when Shibamoto was dispossessed in his own area by Mohammadali Mokhtari before slotting home the fourth into an empty goalmouth.
Iran furthered their advantage in the 35th minute following an own goal by Japan’s Kosuke Matsuda before Mirshekari added the sixth with seconds left on the clock to seal the win and clinch their third title.
Al Bulushi’s brace gives Oman the bronze medal
Iran 6-0 Japan
Third place play-off
UAE 2-4 Oman
MVP: Moslem Mesigar (Iran)
Top goal-scorer: Takuya Akaguma (Japan) – 9 goals
Best goalkeeper: Seyedmahdi Mirjajili (Iran)
TEXT & PHOTOS: AFC