CHALLENGERS EYE IRAN AND JAPAN'S FUTSAL CROWNS

AFC - Islamic Republic of Iran and Japan will be defending a proud record when they kickstart their futsal campaign in the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat.

IR Iran are the only team to have won the men's futsal gold at the Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games and the world powerhouse will be the ones to beat when the competition kicks off at the MSV on September 16.

Reigning AFC Futsal champions IR Iran, who have won the gold medal in every edition of the Games since 2005, are in Group D along with Kyrgyz Republic, Jordan and Tahiti. They open their campaign against Tahiti on Monday.

Eighteen teams will tussle for the men's futsal gold with hosts Turkmenistan in Group A with Vietnam, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and the Solomon Islands.

Group B has Uzbekistan, China PR, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and the Maldives while Group C consists Thailand, Japan, Lebanon and Indonesia.

The winners and runners-up from the four groups will advance to the quarter-finals. 

Men's futsal gets underway on September 16 with Chinese Taipei playing Vietnam and Solomon Islands taking on Hong Kong. Group B action will see Afghanistan facing China PR and Maldives against the UAE. 

In the women’s competition, three-time champions Japan will be the side to beat in the nine-team event.   

Host nation Turkmenistan will play Thailand and Palestine in Group A while Group B has Iran, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Japan, China and Vietnam are in Group C.

The winners from each group plus the best second-placed team of all three groups will advance to the semi-finals. 

Japan face PR China in Group A action on September 16. The other Group A match will be between Turkmenistan and Hong Kong while IR Iran will face Palestine in the only Group B match of the day.

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