Despite losing the opener to Turkey 4-2, Iran bounced back with a solitary-goal victory against Papua New Guinea and will power into the semi-finals from Group A unless the Oceania side can snatch three points against Turkey in the section’s concluding match on Wednesday.
The architect of the decisive goal was the lively midfielder Aynaz Fallah, whose venemous free-kick had forced an own goal from Turkey defender Eda Duran in their last match. Running onto Sarshin Kamangar’s pass down the left, Fallah lashed a low centre across the goal-mouth for Behnaz Taherkhani but while she could only hit the post, Fatemeh Ardestani kept her cool to slot the rebound past the helpless goalkeeper for the winning goal.
After inspiring her side to the crucial win, the Tehran-based girl told FIFA.com: "I will tell my parents the great news and I couldn’t imagine how happy they could be. I inherited my passion for football from my parents and I think they should be proud of me."
For Iran coach Shahrzad Mozafar, the triumph means more than just three points. "It will not only stand our team in good stead for the near future, but also attract attention and support in a long run," said the former futsal coach, unable to conceal her excitement. "We have long been urging our football authorities to invest more in women’s football and with this victory we can convince them that we have a bright future."
Those sentiments were echoed by Abolfazl Khodabandehl, one of the Iran coaching staff. "The victory shows we are going in the right direction and if we can receive as much investment in as those powerhouses of the women’s game, we can be a rising power," he added.
*Growing confidence *
Two first-half goals from Felicidad Avomo and one from Veronica Nchama helped Equatorial Guinea to a resounding 3-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago to book their place in the semi-finals. For coach Jean Paul Mpile, who vowed to take his side all the way in a recent interview with *FIFA.com, *the good start they have enjoyed can only spur his side on to better things.
"We arrive at Singapore with a sole aim-to win gold," he said. "I am satisfied that the players opened brightly and our confidence is further bolstered heading into the next match against Chile. With both sides already through, we can focus just on playing good football.
"Our FA President promises to come here to support us should we progress to the final and the players can move to play with bigger clubs if they continue to impress. All this will herald a good future for us," he concluded.