Official match report from the-afc.com with pictures courtesy of Mark Seeto
Dubai: Australia set a date against Japan in the semifinal of the AFC Futsal Championship following their epic 3-2 extra-time win over Kuwait on Tuesday at the Dubai’s Al Shabab Club Stadium.
With the win, Australia grabbed a berth in the upcoming FIFA Futsal World Cup Championship alongside with Kuwait, who finished as top-fifth ranked country in the Championship.
With Kyrgyzstan losing 1-0 to Japan, the final few minutes in Al Shabab Stadium was a confusing one with trailing Kuwait playing on their own half just to wait for the final whistle as both the side celebrated after the whistle.
Given the stakes from the match, the evenly-matched contest was a nail-biting affair with Kuwait coming from back on two occasions before Australia sealed the victory with Daniel Fogarty’s second of the match two minutes into the extra-time.
Earlier, Fogarty gave a great opening to Australia putting them 1-0 ahead as early as in the 3rd minute of the match. Kuwait’s in-form striker Shaker Almutairi brought the match at level in the 15th minute after good works from the flank by captain Salem Aman.
The see-saw battle continued as Australia restored the parity just one minutes after Shaker’s goal through a brilliant run from Ngaluafe Danny.
Despite trailing by a goal down, Kuwait hit back in the second half with a 28th minute strike from Hamad Alawadhi.
“It was a difficult game of futsal, we were coping against good players and mastermind professional coach who was playing all his cards and was success as they hit back twice in the match,” Australia coach Steven Knight said.
“Our players were tested by their continuous changes of tactics but we did what we were supposed to do, I am looking forward to face Iran in the final,” joked Knight adding that the match against Japan would be a tough test for them in Wednesday’s semifinal.
Kuwait coach Fonseca Cilleros also hailed his players’ effort but at the same time admired the Australian for playing exceptional futsal.
“They were brilliant opponent and physically very strong. First thirty minutes we matched them well but later our players wither and the reason was the stake the match had, you were talking about the World Cup so players at this level generally get nervous,” Cilleros said.