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Ashgabat: Islamic Republic of Iran flexed their muscles to show they remain a powerhouse and end the Ashgabat tournament with impressive stats – six consecutive wins, 58 goals scored and only 11 conceded.

With their fifth consecutive title in hand, Iran's only blemish in Ashgabat was against Thailand (in the quarter-finals) where they were on the backfoot – two goals down early in the first half.

They would, however, go on to win 10-4.

Coach Seyed Mohammad Nazemalsharieh had even proclaimed that Thailand were their most difficult opponents and the quarter-final showdown proved that. 

It was not surprising that they overwhelmed Uzbekistan in the final with their fast-paced attacks, as they showed just why they are ranked among the world’s best.

Technically gifted, Iran had five players in the top 10 of the scoring charts. Besides Mahdi Javid’s 15 goals, only Afghanistan’s Akbar Kazemi posted double digits with 11.

As Uzbekistan team leader Jahangir Usmanov said: “Iran are on another level.”

Japan, the second best team in Asia, stayed unbeaten until the semi-finals where they found a brickwall in the form of Uzbekistan – losing 3-2 on penalties.

The 2013 silver medallists made amends by picking up the bronze – edging Afghanistan on penalties.

Thailand came into the Games on the back of winning the gold at the SEA Games in Malaysia in August.

Their turning point in the tournament came when they lost to Japan in the last group match to finish second as they met Iran in the last eight instead of Jordan.

Uzbekistan, who were ouplayed in the final, improved their Games record as the three-time bronze medallists finally landed the silver.

Vietnam, traditionally slow starters, topped their group but could not maintain their form in Ashgabat as they were sent packing in the quarter-finals by Uzbekistan, losing 2-0.

Despite coming up short in the last four against Iran, Afghanistan were the most impressive team in the tournament as they improved their world ranking from 106 to 95 in just 10 days at Ashgabat.

Photos: ashgabat2017.com

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