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Manama: Coach Miroslav Soukup confidently declared Bahrain “will qualify for the Asian Cup” despite only managing a goalless draw with Singapore in Tuesday’s Group E opener.

The home-side were unlucky not to snatch all three points at the Bahrain National Stadium as Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny produced a eye-catching double save from Ahmed Ali Mohamed and Ismaeel Abdulatif with 17 minutes remaining of a tight contest.

The draw means the pair were unable to catch Turkmenistan, who beat Chiense Taipei 3-1 on Sunday, at the top of the table after the opening round of fixtures.

“We should get a lot of support despite the result that we had against Singapore. We lacked the final touch which is a problem that we have been facing recently and you can’t win matches if you don’t score,” said Bahrain coach Soukup (pictured above).

“I’m not happy with the result, but I believe that we are capable of edging Turkmenistan in the next matches.”

Bahrain are seeking to qualify for a fourth consecutive AFC Asian Cup finals having exited in the group stage at the last three tournaments following their fourth-place finish in China in 2004.  

“It is always hard to play against teams like Singapore who plays with a defensive performance,” added Soukup.

“We should be positive and avoid putting any pressure on the players. I have big confidence in my team and we will qualify for the Asian Cup.”

Bahrain face Turkmenistan away in June in the next round of qualifiers after Yazguly Hojageldiyev’s side made an ideal start in Taipei at the weekend.

Altymyrat Annadurdyyev and Ruslan Mingazov scored a pair of quickfire goals for Turkmenistan midway through the first-half on Sunday at Taipei Municipal Stadium as they seek to qualify for only a second-ever AFC Asian Cup finals appearance having also featured in 2004 in China.

Chen Po-liang's penalty in first-half stoppage time following a foul on Chu En-le (pictured above, left) gave the home-side hope of a comeback, but a late own goal from Chen Chia-chun ensured Turkmenistan claimed all three points despite the late dismissal of Mingazov.

“Only because we played as a team, that's why we won. We got the three points as a team, not just because of one player,” said Turkmenistan coach Hojageldiyev.

“Chinese Taipei played as a team, but No.20 (Chu En-le) was good. Chinese Taipei didn't play as individuals, only as a team.

“We will prepare for the Bahrain game at home and want to work towards that now.”

Chinese Taipei earned their place in the final round group stage having beaten Timor-Leste in the second round of the play-offs having lost to Cambodia in round one.  

“It was a hard match in both halves. The Turkmenistan style on set plays was key, and we were close to scoring goals a few times,” said Chinese Taipei coach Kazuo Kuroda.

“The team is not yet ready for this level. We were close to scoring and wanted to score of course.”

Chinese Taipei will travel to Singapore for their next Group E outing in June.

Photos: BFA & CTFA