Iran retain Asian Games football gold
Defending champions Iran won the Asian Games football gold medal for a record fourth time here on Sunday when they beat Japan 2-1 in the final.india Updated: Oct 13, 2002 18:11 IST
Defending champions Iran won the Asian Games football gold medal for a record fourth time here on Sunday when they beat Japan 2-1 in the final.
Javad Kazemeyan and Mohsen Bayatiniya were the goalscoring stars of the night but they had to survive a nervous last few moments when Satoshi Nakayama grabbed a late reply.
The victory meant that Iran defied the critics who claimed that without influential Ali Daei and the suspended Alireza Vahedi Nikbakht they would struggle to retain the gold they won in Bangkok in 1998.
Kazemeyan, with his second goal of the Games, broke the deadlock just three minutes into the second half when Japan's Hikaru Mita and Takeshi Aoki, who had only just come on as a substitute, got in each other's way.
As Aoki tried to clear, the ball fell into the path of Kazemeyan whose drive from just outside the area flew into the corner past Takaya Kurokawa in goal.
Two minutes later it was almost 2-0 when Moharram Navidkia saw an effort come back off the foot of the post before Ali Badavi hit an inswinging cross which almost deceived Kurokawa in the Japan goal.
Iran went looking for another goal and after 68 minutes Bayatiniya teed-up the unmarked Kazemeyan whose rasping shot was spectacularly saved by Kurokawa. Japan pressed looking to hit back and it was Nakayama who looked the most likely source when a drifting run ended with a left foot shot which sailed wide.
With just three minutes left, Bayatiniya grabbed the second after another defensive mix-up had allowed him a clear shot on goal.
But Nakayama pulled one back in the 89th minute converting Daisuke Matsui's cross to give Iran a few anxious moments.
Japan played the neater football in the first half and shaded the better opportunities with Iran reaching the interval in debt to the efforts of goalkeeper Ebrahim Mirzapour who pulled off four fine saves to keep out the Japanese quicksilver strikers.
Matsui showed great close control in the ninth minute cleverly juggling the ball from left to right foot before unleashing a shot that was gathered by Mirzapour.
The keeper was then twice alert to the danger of Nakayama who threatened twice in the space of four minutes while veteran defender Yahya Golmohammadi hit a clearance against Yoshito Okubo whose shot was saved by Mirzapour.
Iran did have two good openings in the first half.
Javad Nekounam had a drive pushed around the corner by Japanese goalkeeper Kurokawa in the 18th minute before Navidkia danced past three defenders before unleashing a fierce 25-yard effort which Kurokawa did well to turn around the corner.
First Published: Oct 13, 2002 18:11 IST