In its opening match, Iran proved powerful and threw the gauntlet by seven goals although the Asian topscorer Vahid Shamsaei has been sidelined by injury.
Ali Sanei, Vahid Shamsaei, Mohammad-Reza Heidarian, Mojtaba Ahangaran, Mojtaba Moini, Siamak Dadashi, Hamid Shandizi-Moqaddam, Kazem Mohammadi Tirabadi, Hamid-Reza Abrarinia, Reza Nasser Aqchai, Ahmad Pari-Azar, and Mohammad Hashemzadeh are national indoor footballers of the country.
Mohammad-Sadeq Doroudgar is the head of Iranian team and Mohammad-Hassan Ansarifard and Mahmoud Khorakchi are the head coach and coach respectively.
IRAN IN COMFORT ZONE
Instead of the current European champion Italy, Iran has found itself lumped together in Group D with Uzbekistan and England in prestigious US dlrs 150,000 futsal tournament that will be held at the Putra Stadium, some 40 km off Kuala Lumpur, on June 3-8.
The re-draw was conducted following the withdrawal of world futsal champion Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy due to their concern over the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak.
Uzbekistan was the runner-up to Iran -- the undisputed futsal king of Asia after four consecutive Asian titles -- in the Asian championship in 2001 and is consistently one of the stronger Asian teams.
The event is presented and hosted by Malaysia's Youth and Sport Ministry and is brought to Kuala Lumpur by direct-to-home subscription-based operator Astro and Asia's No. 1 sports broadcaster ESPN STAR Sports.
The field of 12 teams in the 2003 tournament includes three-time world futsal champions Brazil, Asian champion Iran, current ASEAN champion Thailand, current Asian runner-up Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Guatemala, England, South Africa, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and host country Malaysia.
Concern over SARS was the reason for the changes in the team lineup and the changes prompted organizers Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and ESPN STAR Sports to carry out an official re-draw of the matches on Tuesday.
Organized biennially, it was last held in Singapore in December 2001.
Futsal has rapidly grown in popularity in Asia due largely to the success of this tournament and the development efforts of national football associations.
The growing interest has led to the mushrooming of privately run facilities within Kuala Lumpur, prompting the FAM to announce the introduction of a league.
Malaysia's Brazilian Coach Silvio Machado, taking advantage of the host's right to pick its opponents, had opted for Japan and the Netherlands during the official draw recently.
With the enforced changes, he will have to revise his strategies, taking into account the team's dismal display in their recent tour to the Netherlands.
The team suffered three defeats but earned a draw against the Dutch futsal teams throughout its two-week stint.
Despite that, FAM Vice-President Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar was optimistic that the team would justify its status as host.
The touring Malaysian squad of 20 will be trimmed to 12 for the tournament.
The top team in each group will enter the semifinals of the cup. The four runner-up will compete in the Plate semifinals and likewise the four third-placed teams will meet in the Bowl semis.
The cup winner will bag US dlrs 50,000 and the runner-up US dlrs 25,000.
The Plate champion will receive US dlrs 15,000 and the runner-up US dlrs 10,000.
The Bowl winner will get US dlrs 10,000 and the runner-up US dlrs 5,000.
Teams will start winning prize-money at the semifinal stage of each competition. Cup semifinalists will each receive US dlrs 10,000, Plate semifinalists will each get US dlrs 5,000 and the last four in the Bowl competition will each obtain US dlrs 2,500.
Official Re-Draw Results
Group A: Brazil, Thailand, South Africa
Group B: Argentina, Japan, Indonesia
Group C: Uruguay, Guatemala, Malaysia
Group D: Iran, Uzbekistan, England
... Payvand News - 6/3/03 ... --