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Chronology: the "Futsalic" pains of a nation

By       Message Kourosh Ziabari     Permalink
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We have just passed 2 weeks since the curtains of 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup tumbled on the stage dramatically for the squad of Hossein Shams when Brazilian captain "Vinicius" hoisted the championship trophy superciliously in front of 16,000 audiences attending at the Ginásio do Maracanãzinho stadium. 

The Iranian side which was a medal favorite, lost its hopes to qualify for the semi-finals after failing to defend its 5-4 triumph over Italy in less than 50 seconds and finishing with a painful 5-5 draw with the European opponent at a second group round match in Rio de Janeiro.

Although the veteran captain Vahid Shamsaee who carries the title of world's all-time best goal-scorer was placed among the WC's top ten players alongside the astonishing star of Iranian box Mostafa Nazari, he missed the precious chance of winning the "Golden Ball trophy" while most of the commentators, journalists and  observers had anticipated to see him on the stage.

After drawing with the defending champion Spain in the opening match, most of the analysts and spectators confessed that Iran deserves to be ranked as one of the finishing fours.

However, that dream came not true and Iran eliminated by a "one goal" shortage in the very closing moments of its match with Italy, but experienced a two steps spring in the overall FIFA futsal teams ranking of October 2008 as the world's 4th power, passing Portugal, Russia, Argentina and Ukraine.

Up to now, Iran national futsal team has won 9 titles out of 10 Asian championship editions and grabbed a silver medal of 2007 Grand Prix de Futsal too which is an informal, small-scaled world cup being held annually in Brazil. 

Moreover, it might be interesting to know that the Iranian swarm has won its first international appearance 19-6 against a Persian Gulf rival, Kuwait in a friendly match hosted by Hong Kong and made its greatest victory over Singapore by thrashing the southeastern competitor 36-0.

In the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup which received wide and unpredictable media coverage worldwide particularly by the French and British media whose countries lacked a representative in Rio de Janeiro, the Iranian youth caught the eyes and attracted millions of TV viewers with their fascinating performance where they trounced all of their group round rivals excluding the defending champions Spain which tied with 3-3. 

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The Iranian white-wearers defeated Czech 3-2, demolished Libya 4-2, broke Uruguay 4-2 down and pushed the Spanish tornados to the crater of a historic lose so entered the second group round with 10 points and 14 goals scored with a same point of Spain.

 In the second round, they endorsed the slightest win of Brazil in the last years and lost a 1-0 game while they had great chances for a draw or even a fabulous win.  For the second step, they surpassed Ukraine 5-4 which was not a desirable win because they needed a 2-goal-long win to clinch a semi-final berth by drawing against Italy.

 Finally, the breath-taking match with the European champions Italy came up and the Iranian medal favorites stepped the battlefield without Vahid Shamsaee because of his double-carded state. They were also deprived of their powerful striker Majid Latifi because of the injury.

 The boys were ready to beat Italy with utmost of their courage. They did so and achieved a victory until the 50 seconds remaining to the end of match where the flames of hopes suddenly subsided for them by the equalizer of Italian skipper which was a tragic end to their sweet days in Rio de Janeiro.

 The thing is that Iranians only needed a 47 seconds resistance against Italy to secure a place among the top 4 giants, but justice and equity is not going to be administered perpetually and the coin showed its unfavorable side to the Asian champions this year.

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 Actually, they lost just one game in the tournament, scored 24 totally and were more meritorious than Russia and Italy which both were defeated two times on their way to semi-finals.

 With these all in mind, the good news is that the internationally recognized "World Soccer" magazine has slated to prize both Vahid Shamsaee and Mostafa Nazari in an official ceremony which is going to be held in Paris next week. 

Finally, let's note that futsal as one of the modern derivations of football is among the most popular sports in Iran which the government also invests in considerably, so that's not wondering if Iran has been dominating the Asian futsal for more than 3 decades. 

 

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Kourosh Ziabari, freelance journalist and blogger from Iran, technology and culture reporter, interviewer and media correspondent for the Foreign Policy Journal.

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