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Iran beats UAE to claim AFC Beach Soccer Championship title

Iranian beach soccer players rejoice after claiming the 2017 AFC Beach Soccer Championship title in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, on March 11, 2017.

The Iranian men's national beach soccer team has won the trophy at the 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Beach Soccer Championship in Malaysia following a victory the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

On Saturday, the Emirati players began the title clash staged on the Pantai Batu Buruk beach in the northeastern Malaysian city of Kuala Terengganu in a better fashion, and sent a number of passes on Iran’s goalpost. Iranian goalkeeper Seyyed Payman Hosseini, however, saved well and dashed their scoring hopes.

The Iranian team then managed to gain the lead, and forward Moslem Mesigar tapped home from close range to hand Persians an early lead.

Iranian beach soccer players heaped pressure on the UAE defense afterwards, and soon doubled their advantage through Hosseini’s impressive strike.

Iran’s skipper Mohammad Ahmadzadeh then fired a volley, which missed the target and went just inches wide.

Iran was awarded a penalty later on and Mohammad Ali Mokhtari placed the ball at the back of the opponents’ net to round off a dominant first half for the favorite champion.

The Emirati team sought to narrow the deficit after the break, and Kamal Ali Sulaiman went close with a volley. However, Mesigar’s cool header found the net and put the Persians four-nil ahead.

The Emirati custodian Humaid Jamal eventually dragged his team back into the game, and opened the scoring for the UAE outfit four minutes from time. The hopes were immediately raised when Haitham Mohamed netted following neat approach play.

Nevertheless, an accurate free-kick by Seyyed Ali Nazem, followed by Amir Akbari’s volley and a goal scored direct from a penalty kick sealed the 7-2 win and the title for the Iranians.

Iran also grabbed the Fair Play award at the tournament. Mokhtari was crowned the Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer.

Iranian beach soccer skipper Mohammad Ali Mokhtari

The 26-year-old talisman scored a total of 12 goals, including two in the final against the United Arab Emirates, a double in Iran's semi-final defeat of Japan, a whopping four against hosts Malaysia in their campaign opener, three against China and one in his side's win over Bahrain.

“This is a very exciting moment both for me and my team to win all these awards. These were achieved not through my efforts alone but through the hard work of the whole squad,” Mokhtari said

He added, “But the most important thing was to win the championship and going forward to prepare for the World Cup, which definitely will be a different tournament from the Asian championship. I'll give my best and do even better in the World Cup.”

Iran head coach Mohammad Hossein Mirshamsi said, “We were ready for this game and we knew that the UAE were tired as it was a tough semi-final game against Lebanon for them.”

Iranian beach soccer head coach Mohammad Hossein Mirshamsi

“I think today’s game was easy for us. The most important advantage that we had over the UAE today was physical fitness. We were thankful for that.

“Looking back, I think our most difficult match in this competition was our encounter against Japan in the semi-finals, but we analyzed the UAE’s games and I believe we were ahead of them in terms of tactics and technique,” Mirshamsi noted.

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