The Maldives have faced a devastating 18-2 loss against Iran in their opening match of the AFC Futsal Asian Cup qualifiers in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. 

The Maldives came into the match with high hopes but were outmatched by the formidable Iranian squad, currently ranked sixth in the world.

The first half of the game saw Iran’s dominance, with the scoreline at 6-1 in their favour. The Maldives’ first goal came in the 18th minute through Ali Haafiz.

However, Maldives encountered a setback when their goalkeeper, Zaidhan Ahmed, suffered an injury with four minutes remaining in the first half. Fayyaz Fayaaz (Faitte) was substituted in, but coach Abdulla Naseer (Abo) later reinstated Zaidhan in the second half.

Iran continued to add to their impressive start in the second half, scoring an additional 12 goals. Ali Haafiz was once again in the mix for the Maldives , contributing to the second goal after skillfully navigating past three Iranian players and assisting Ali Shiyah, who scored on his debut for the Maldives.

The Maldives will have a chance to bounce back when they face Lebanon in their next match on Monday. Their final match in the qualifiers will be against Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday.

This defeat is reminiscent of last year’s qualifiers when the Maldives faced Iran, resulting in a 17-0 loss. They also suffered defeats of 7-1 against Kyrgyzstan and 7-0 against Turkmenistan.