The road to Colombia
Iran underlined their status as the pre-eminent force in Asian futsal by winning their 11th continental title at the 2016 AFC Futsal Championship, a triumph that earned them a place at the FIFA Futsal World Cup for the seventh time. After sweeping to respective 6-0, 7-0 and 13-2 wins over Jordan, China PR and Iraq in the group phase, the Iranians ran riot once more in the quarter-finals, overpowering Kyrgyzstan 7-0 to qualify for Colombia 2016 in style. Following up with a 13-1 defeat of Vietnam in the semis, they then made it six wins out of six by edging out hosts Uzbekistan 2-1 in the final.
Strengths and styles
Iran were an irresistible attacking force in the Asian finals, racking up 48 goals in their six matches, more than any other side in the competition. They also conceded fewer than anyone else – a mere four. Coach Mohammad Nazemalsharie’s squad contained a clutch of experienced players who appeared at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012, including Hossein Tayyebi, the scorer of 11 goals at Uzbekistan 2016, and Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh, while Mahdi Javid and Farhad Tavakoli were two of the young players to excel.
FIFA Futsal World Cup record
After missing the inaugural futsal world finals in the Netherlands in 1989, Iran have contested all six held since then, reaching the semi-finals at Hong Kong 1992, where they finished fourth. Eliminated in the group phase in 1996, 2000 and 2004, they reached the second round at Brazil 2008 and went as far as the quarter-finals at Thailand 2012, where they lost 2-1 to Colombia.