Dubai: Defending and ten-time champions Iran look the strongest on paper and in the best of form for a record eleventh crown as the 2012 AFC Futsal Championship enters the knock-out stages today.
Iran have been way ahead of the rest of the teams involved in this championship, with their three emphatic wins in Group C telling their own tale.
They started off with a 14-1 thrashing of South Korea, then hammered Qatar 8-0 in their second encounter, before pulverising a resolute Australia 9-0. Iran have won all the editions of the AFC Futsal Championship, except one that was claimed by Japan in 2006.
In the quarter-finals, Iran will take on Uzbekistan in a repeat of the 2010 final that was convincingly won by the Iranians 8-3.
Coming closest to challenging them could be Japan, who have been showing a marked improvement in their performances here.
Japan will take on Kyrgyzstan in their quarter-final clash today and then await the winner of the second quarter-final between Australia and Kuwait. Japan's Spanish coach Miguel Rodrigo is confident as he set his sights on a place in the 2012 Fifa Futsal World Cup in Bangkok later this year.