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AFC Futsal Championship Qualifiers in Tabriz

After winning the 2016 AFC Futsal Championship, the Iranians finished third in the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia that year, before claiming their fifth Asian Indoor Games gold medal
Iran national futsal teamIran national futsal team

The South and Central Zone Qualifiers of the AFC Futsal Championship 2018 kick off on Sunday in Tabriz, Iran’s East Azarbaijan Province.

According to the-afc.com, the South and Central zones have been merged into one qualification zone as Nepal is the only representative from the South, bringing the total to seven teams competing for four spots in the finals in Taiwan next year.

In the three-team Group B, Iran will play with Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Iran, the Asian futsal powerhouse, holds a record of 11 championship titles and the team has enjoyed much success in recent years.

After winning the 2016 AFC Futsal Championship, the Iranians finished third in the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia that year, before claiming their fifth Asian Indoor Games gold medal.

Danger man Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh, who was named the Most Valuable Player after assisting Iran beat Uzbekistan in the final, will definitely play a key  role in this qualifier.

Tajikistan’s closest attempt at the title was their 2007 campaign where they reached the quarter-finals but were halted by the Uzbek squad. They have struggled to make the cut into the knockout phase ever since, despite consecutive qualifications.

Afghanistan turned heads in the 2017 Asian Indoor Games when they defeated Uzbekistan 4-2 to claim top spot in their group to progress to the quarter-finals, but losses to eventual champions Iran in the semis and Japan in the third place play-off secured them fourth spot.

The South zone’s sole representative Nepal will make their AFC Futsal Championship debut against Asia’s best, but in a top flight tournament, surprises can hardly be ruled out.

The Nepalese will face Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Turkmenistan in Group A of the qualifiers. Uzbekistan, runners-up in the previous edition, is one of the favorites to qualify.

 

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