Iran tops women’s Asia and Oceania Cup
by Risto PAKARINEN|31 MAR 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Aiya Khan
Iran left nothing to chance in the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Asia and Oceania Cup as the team cruised to the top of the standings with a perfect 4-0 record. They beat the runner-up, the Philippines, 4-0 in their last game of the tournament.
Iran’s goalie tandem Arezou Izadi – Zhara Ghamesi was perfect in the tournament, posting four straight shutouts, and Asal Heydari – wearing number 99 – won the scoring race with eight goals and 11 points in four games. Only three Iranian players were left off the scoresheet in the tournament, a proof of their depth.
“Our team played well in every game and every player did her best. Our biggest challenge was to get better game by game and practice playing basic hockey and not depend on a couple of players. I think we succeeded in that,” said Iran captain Azam Sanaei.
“It was a great event, we loved playing in Kyrgyzstan.”
The IIHF WAOC tournament, first played in 2010, is particularly valuable to nations not competing in IIHF World Championship events as they build their programs for the future.
This year, the tournament was played as a five-team round-robin tournament after Malaysia and Kuwait withdrew from the tournament and Thailand, last season’s winner, played in the IIHF Women’s World Championship Division IIIB tournament in Estonia at the same time – earning a promotion to IIHF Women’s World Championship Division IIIA.
Iran arrived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan as the favourite, having made it to the final against Thailand in the 2023 edition of the tournament, and they made a splash, beating the United Arab Emirates 16-0 in their first game. The hosts, Kyrgyzstan, put up a fight, but couldn’t penetrate the Iranian defense, either. Final score: 6-0.
The games were also broadcast on an Iranian sports network.
Iran, coached by Farzad Houshidari, the men’s team captain, then beat India handily 10-0, and could start preparing for their last game of the tournament, a winner-takes-all game against the Philippines, also with a perfect record but a slightly less impressive 17-6 goal difference.
In the decisive game against the Philippines, Iran had to work hard for its goals. It took almost the entire first period for them to beat Rosalyn Lim.  It was Diana Farzamnia who fired a wrister from the slot and beat Lim down low to give Iran the lead and let them exhale a bit.

Yeganeh Bahrami doubled the lead in the middle of the middle frame with a wrist shot that found its way through the Philippines penalty killers and into the net. Hadiseh Poorhashemi made it 3-0 off a rebound of Farzamnia’s shot, and with 48 seconds remaining in the second period, Heydari scored her eighth goal of the tournament, after she won a puck battle in the corner and fired a wrister shot from the slot.
Iran allowed only 23 goals on goal – in the entire tournament.
“We’re very proud of how we played in this tournament despite falling short of winning the gold medal game against a dominant Iranian team. Every game brought us new challenges and made us a better team afterwards,” said the Philippines team captain Danielle Imperial.
The United Arab Emirates finished third, and India fourth, thanks to their 6-3 win over the hosts, Kyrgyzstan in the last game of the tournament.