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Robert Grdović talks about postponed AFC Futsal Championship and predicts the outcome

AFC Futsal Championship should have been played from Wednesday 26th February until Sunday 8th March 2020 in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat. But, due to coronavirus outbreak, and the fact that 7 out of 10 most infected countries are participants at AFC Futsal Championship (which is also a qualifying tournament for the Futsal World Cup 2020) the tournament was postponed and the new dates are still yet to be decided.

>> The brief history of the AFC Futsal Championship

So, we took the opportunity to talk with Robert Grdović, Croatian futsal legend who is the head coach of Turkmenistan national team, the intended host of the competition.

Grdović told us at the beginning that the new date of the AFC Futsal Championship 2020 could be in early June if the situation with the coronavirus calms down by then, what the whole world hopes for…

„As a host nation, we have strong expectations from this competition. We want to reach semi-finals, or at least secure the fifth place, the last that takes you to the World Cup“.

Cancelling the Asian championship did not sit well with the Grdović's squad since they have paced the form for this tournament.

„We worked hard in the preparatory period, played lots of tournaments, insisted on raising the quality of our performances, gathering experiences against strong teams, all to be ready for the start of the tournament in Ashgabat“.

The last check before the beginning of the competition, Turkmenistan national team should have had on the tournament in Thailand, at the beginning of February, but due to coronavirus outbreak, our's and Kuwait's federations stopped the trip for obvious security reasons...

„We slowed down with the preparations as we wait for the AFC to set a new date of the tournament. Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long. Also, Turkmenistan's national championship will start soon so, my players are focused on the beginning of a new season“.

As for the 16th edition of Asian championship, 16 teams are participating on the tournament. Divided into four groups, two best teams out of each will qualify to the quarter-finals. Winners of the quarter-finals will secure the promotion for the World cup. Losers will play the 'barrage' and the best out of those four teams will also secure a World Cup as a fifth ‘passenger’ from Asia.

„As we saw after the draw, every group has one or two big favorites to secure the first two places that will lead them to the knock-out stage“, says Grdović.

„In group A (Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Tajikistan and Oman), Vietnam is the biggest favorite to secure the next round and the other three participants will fight for the second place. Hopefully, with the support of the home crowd, our team will be not only candidate for the knockout stage but also for the first place in the group which will give us an „easier“ opponent in the quarter-finals“.

„In Group B (Japan, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan and Kuwait), Japan is the biggest favorite for the first place, and in my opinion, Lebanon and Kuwait (whose head coach is legendary Cacau) will fight for the second place in the knockout stage“.

„In Group C (Uzbekistan, Bahrain, China and Indonesia), Uzbekistan is an ultimate favorite and Bahrein is, in my opinion, the second-best team in the group“.

„In last, Group D (Iran, Thailand, South Korea and Saudi Arabia), Iran and Thailand are not only favorites to win the group, but also the complete tournament“.

„Besides those two countries, I see Japan and Uzbekistan as the biggest favorites to win the title, but I hope that as a host we can plunge in the very elite of Asian futsal“.


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