The Iranian 16-member team headed by Mohamed Sadegh Deroughgar, who arrived here on Saturday is being prepared for the Kuala Lumpur (KL) World 5s on June 3-8 in which 12 teams will compete in a FIFA sanctioned event, jointly-organized by the Football Association of Malaysia, Asian Football Confederation and the Asian no. 1 broadcaster, ESPN STAR Sports Event Management Group.
Though Iran promised much but delivered little at the world championships in Guatemala (2000) and Seville (1996), Mohammed Sadegh waxed confident that Iran would be formidable at the world futsal championships next year in Taiwan.
"We will be among the top three in Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) next year and in 2008, we aim to be world champions," he told IRNA in an interview here on Monday.
Results on a recent European tour suggest that Sadegh's optimism is not vacuous.
Iran lost 6-2 to European powerhouses Italy and drew 2-2 with current world champion Spain.
Iran emphasized their superiority as Asian champions when they beat Japan 6-0 en route to the Asian final in Jakarta in 2001.
For KL Worlds 5s to be held at the Putra Stadium, about 35 km south of here, Mohamed Sadegh, the head of the futsal section of the Iranian football federation said Iran are wanting to test out the capability of the team without the services of their best player, the injured Vahid Shamsanee.
Despite nursing an injured knee, Shamsanee was not left behind in Tehran because he is 'a great psychological boost to the team', said Mohamed Sadegh.
"He is the best player and the one with the highest enthusiasm and best attitude," he enthused.
Shamsanee will be on the sidelines at Putra Stadium, giving vocal support to Mohamed Reza Heidarian, Siamar Dadashi, Ali Sanee and Mojtaba Ahangran, among the more prominent of the Iranian squad.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Hassan Ansarifar, Iranian coach said, "We are going to be a champion of this tournament because Iranian team are well prepared."
A total of 12 of the world best futsal playing nations will converge in Kuala Lumpur to vie for the US dlrs 150,000 tournament, which would includes three-time world champions Brazil, Asian Champions Iran, current ASEAN champions Thailand, current Asian runners-up Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Guatemala, England, South Africa, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and host country Malaysia.
Iran are in Group D of the KL World 5s with Uzbekistan and England.
Uzbekistan were runners-up to Iran in the Asian Championship in 2001.
Nowhere is futsal more popular in the world than it is in Iran, the current Asian champions.
Mohammed Sadegh said during Ramadan, 20,000 teams from the country's 28 provinces take part in a knockout competition.
Elite teams get to play in a super league which has 12 teams; the division one league has 10 teams and the division two 30.
There are 10,000 futsal teams in the armed forces, 2,000 teams in the schools, 1,000 in the university and a women's division has 100 teams.
"Iranian people love futsal," chortled Mohamed Sadegh.
Asked the reason for futsal's hold on the Iranian public, Mohamed Sadegh offered that the high order of skills on display, tactical sophistication, and the fact the sport can be played indoors and out accounted for its vast popularity.
"It is reasonable to expect that futsal's popularity would grow on the strength of overall support for soccer in Iran," he added.
Meanwhile, a total of 50 participants from the region will be attending the FIFA-AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Futsal Coaching and Refereeing Courses which will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from June 10-14.
While the majority of the participants will be from Southeast Asia, two other Asian countries, Iran and Maldives, have been invited to send their representatives for the courses.
In a statement faxed to IRNA here, ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) said FIFA instructor, Y. Masuzaki of Japan and Damien Knobben from Belgium, will conduct the refereeing and coaching courses respectively.
The courses will be the first of many regional courses the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) will be organizing this year.
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