Kaunas: Asia will be represented by five teams at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021 with the continent’s representatives determined to make an impact.
To be played across three venues, the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021 will see Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Vietnam carrying Asia’s challenge.
The six group winners and runners-up, together with the four best third-placed teams will advance to the Round of 16. Join the-AFC.com as we preview the Asian teams aiming for glory in the September 12-October 3 FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021.
Uzbekistan – Group B
Making their second appearance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup, Uzbekistan are targeting a place in the knockout rounds after their debut appearance in 2016 ended in group stage elimination.
The experience gained playing against the world’s best in the 2016 edition helped the squad develop and Uzbekistan will compete in Lithuania 2021 confident of holding their own in a group they feel they have a strong chance of advancing from.
History: 1st previous appearance – 2016 (Group Stage); AFC Futsal Asian Cup: Runners-up 2001, 2006, 2010, 2016
Recent Form: 2W, 3L (friendlies) – Portugal (3-1), Angola (5-3), Spain (0-1, 0-1), Argentina (1-3)
Players to Watch: Dilshod Rakhmatov, Davron Choriev, Artur Yunusov
Challengers: Guatemala (Sept 12), RFU (Sept 15), Egypt (Sept 18)
Thailand – Group C
Thailand have been a powerhouse in ASEAN for the last two decades and will be making their sixth appearance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup, having reached the Round of 16 in 2012 and 2016.
Rising star Muhammad Osamanmusa could very well be the finishing touch to an already impressive Thailand attack which boasts Suphawut Thueanklang and captain Kritsada Wongkaeo, who are eager to make an impact at Lithuania 2021.
History: 5 previous appearances – 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016; 14-time AFF Futsal Championship winners
Recent Form – 4W, 1L (friendlies): Uzbekistan (4-3), Egypt (3-2), Oman (7-0), Chile (6-1), IR Iran (1-5)
Players to Watch: Suphawut Thueanklang, Muhammad Osamanmusa, Kritsada Wongkaeo
Challengers: Portugal (Sept 13), Morocco (Sept 16), Solomon Islands (Sept 19)
Vietnam – Group D
Vietnam will make up for their inexperience with fighting spirit when they appear in their second FIFA Futsal World Cup, having edged Lebanon on away goals following a 1-1 aggregate score in the playoff.
Vietnam are determined to prove a point in Lithuania 2021 with the target of bettering their 2016 achievement of reaching the Round of 16.
The opening fixture will be a litmus test for Pham Minh Giang’s side, who face two-time World Cup winners Brazil, before taking on Panama and twice quarter-finalists Czech Republic.
History – 1 previous appearance: 2016
Recent Form – 1W, 2D, 2L, friendlies, WCQ: Iraq (2-1), Lebanon (0-0), (1-1), Japan (0-1), Spain (0-4)
Players to Watch: Tran Van Vu, Tran Thai Huy, Nguyen Minh Tri
Challengers: Brazil (Sept 13), Panama (Sept 16), Czech Republic (Sept 19)
Japan – Group E
Japan will be making their return to the FIFA Futsal World Cup after missing out on the 2016 edition. The Samurai Blue are one of just two teams to have lifted the AFC Futsal Championship trophy – the other being Islamic Republic of Iran – and will be hoping to make a mark on the world stage in their fifth appearance.
Head coach Bruno Garcia and his charges are bidding to surpass the Round of 16 achievement of 2012 but will first need to see off Group E challengers Angola, Paraguay and two-time world champions Spain.
History: 4 previous appearances – 1989, 2004, 2008, 2012; 3-time AFC Futsal Asian Cup Champions – 2006, 2012, 2014
Recent Form – 1W, 1D, 3L (friendlies): Vietnam (1-0), Venezuela (2-2), Portugal (2-3), Argentina (1-2), Spain (0-2)
Players to Watch: Rafael Henmi, Ryosuke Nishitani, Ryuta Hoshi
Challengers: Angola (Sept 14), Spain (Sept 17), Paraguay (Sept 20)
IR Iran – Group F
Islamic Republic of Iran will enter their eighth FIFA Futsal World Cup campaign as genuine challengers, having lifted the AFC Futsal Championship trophy 12 times. The Iranians made history in 2016 by finishing third, the best-ever achievement by an Asian team, and head coach Mohammed Nazemosharia is aiming for the title in Lithuania 2021.
Nazemosharia has retained most of the 2016 squad with the likes of Mahdi Javid, Hossein Tayebi and captain Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh – a four-time AFC Futsal Player of the Year – leading the charge with defending champions Argentina the toughest hurdle.
History: 7 previous appearances – 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016; 12-time Asian champions
Recent Form – 3W: Thailand (5-1), Belarus (8-2, 5-1)
Players to Watch: Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh, Mahdi Javid, Hossein Tayebi
Challengers: Serbia (Sept 14), USA (Sept 17), Argentina (Sept 20)
Photos: FIFA via Getty Images, Vietnam Football Federation, Japan Football Association