With just a day to go before futsal fever grips the Continent, the-AFC.com concludes its preview of the AFC Futsal Club Championship Vietnam 2017.
FOCUS ON GROUP D
BLUE WAVE CHONBURI (THAILAND)
Appearing in their seventh consecutive AFC Futsal Club Championship, Chonburi Bluewave are easily one of the most familiar and consistent futsal clubs on the continent. Despite finishing a commendable third at home last year, Chonburi will be looking for a return to their glory days of 2013 and 2014 when they finished as champions and runners-up respectively.
The Sharks will be hoping for an inspired campaign from key players, especially Suphawat Thueanklang - who was instrumental in Thailand’s march to the final 16 at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia last year with five goals. Suphawut also emerged the top scorer at the AFC Futsal Championship after scoring four goals as Thailand claimed third place in Uzbekistan last year.
Jirawat Sornwichian, who amassed an impressive seven goals to clinch the top-scorer award last year in Bangkok, will prove to be another major threat. Keeping close to the dangerous duo will indeed be a challenge but Chonburi have in their arsenal another eight players who featured for Thailand in Colombia.
FC ALMALYK (UZBEKISTAN)
Similar to Chonburi, FC Almalyk also boast a team predominantly of national team players, who featured significantly in Uzbekistan's first campaign at the FIFA Futsal World Cup showpiece.
On the continental front, Almalyk FC will be making their second successive appearance at the AFC Futsal Club Championship, following an impressive debut in Thailand last year. The Uzbek champions showed they were no pushovers as they advanced past a tough group, which included Iranian heavyweights Tasisat Daryaei.
Almalyk FC will be casting their sights on avenging their 2016 quarter-finals defeat at the hands of Chonburi when the two sides meet again in a possible crunch tie in their final group match, but the Central Asians will need to rely on their formidable defence to prevent an onslaught from the mighty Thai attack.
BANK OF BEIRUT FC (LEBANON)
Bank of Beirut FC will be featuring in their third continental club championship after reclaiming the Lebanon Futsal League championship from rivals Al Mayadeen. Dejan Đedović’s men took the domestic competition by storm, staying unbeaten throughout the season to equal Pro's Cafe Beirut’s record of three Lebanon Futsal League titles.
On the continental front, however, the Lebanese club will be looking to improve from their 2015 outing when they progressed to the quarter-finals before losing narrowly to last year’s finalists Naft Al-Wasat on penalties.
At the centre of Bank of Beirut FC’s charge will be captain Ali Tneich, and former Iranian international Behroz Jafari who was instrumental in Dabiri Tabriz Futsal Club’s third place finish in the AFC Futsal Club Championship three years ago in China.