Three Amigos to challenge Iran’s Futsal supremacy
Four-time champions the Islamic Republic of Iran are still the Futsal team to beat but their dominance is coming under threat from Spanish “invaders”.
The Three Amigos in the form of Thailand’s Jose Maria Pazos Mendez, Vietnam's Miguel Rodrigo and Japan's Bruno Jose Garcia Formoso have coached their teams into the quarter-finals on Saturday 23 September.
Pazos Mendez, who goes by the nickname Pulpis (Octopus), grapples with Iran in the first of the quarter-finals at 11am at the Multifunctional Sport Venue.
Although Thailand lost their final Group C game 6-4 to Japan, Pulpis was confident of toppling the title holders.
“If there is one team in this tournament who can beat Iran it is us,” he said. “But we must play better.
“We must change 100 per cent. We have a chance but we must push ourselves even more.”
Iran have eased their way into the last eight as the highest tournament scorers with 33 goals and a 100 per cent record in Group D.
Bruno Formoso’s Japan were also unbeaten in the preliminary stage, although Group C comprised just three teams, and they tackle Jordan at 1pm.
Afghanistan have been the surprise package of the men’s event. The world No.99 side won all of their four games in Group B and have the tournament’s top scorer with nine goals, Akbar Kazemi.
Now they face their biggest challenge against Turkmenistan at 4pm, with the hosts needing to recover from their final Group A 1-0 defeat by Vietnam.
Turkmenistan’s Japanese coach Kyohei Nakamura admits he has a job to motivate his players, who have received fanatical support from the local fans.
Speaking after the Vietnam defeat, Nakamura said: “My job now is to lift my players' spirits. They will have a day off before the quarter-finals.
“They need not just to rest the body but they need to refresh their minds and remove the stress.”
Vietnam recovered from a shock opening game defeat by Chinese Taipei to finish top of Group A after beating the hosts in their last game.
Coach Rodrigo was in upbeat mood before their quarter-final against Uzbekistan at 7pm on Saturday.
“I don't care who we play against next,” he said. “Our mood is good. We will play against anyone. We are full of confidence.”
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