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Hisor: Tajikistan’s attempt to qualify for the Finals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup is back on track after the country’s players faced up to their responsibilities following a disappointing start to their campaign, claimed coach Khakim Fuzaylov as the Central Asian nation picked up a second consecutive win.

Tajikistan handed Nepal a 3-0 defeat in Hisor, just outside the nation’s capital Dushanbe on Tuesday evening to close the gap on Group F leaders the Philippines and Yemen, who played out a 1-1 draw in Doha.

While the Philippines still lead the group with eight points, Thomas Dooley’s team now only hold a two-point advantage over both Yemen and Tajikistan with Nepal bottom of the standings with just a point.

Tajikistan made a miserable start to their campaign, losing to both Yemen and the Philippines, but the back-to-back wins over Koji Gyotoku’s team have reignited the country’s hopes of a place in the United Arab Emirates.

“We are happy with victory,” said Fuzaylov. “Tajikistan lost the first two games in the group stage, but after that the players felt their responsibilities and have changed the situation and they had a lot of motivation before this game. 

“We won the match, however there were some problems with the squad. Nepal played well in the first half. They tried not to give space to my players but when we scored the second goal it became easier to find a way to attack.

“Now we have six points and Tajikistan will continue to battle to qualify for the final stages of the Asian Cup. We will give our best for it.”

Tajikistan won by virtue of a trio of penalties from Nuriddin Davronov, Parviz Umarboev and Manuchekhr Dzhalilov to leave Nepal’s AFC Solidarity Cup-winning coach Gyotoku frustrated.

“Tajikistan showed their potential tonight,” said the Japanese coach. “We made mistakes and conceded all three goals from penalty kicks. 

“We tried and wanted to win the match, but the first goal changed game. My team played without serious mistakes until the first penalty. We lost to Tajikistan in both matches. They have good quality players who can decide the destiny of the match.”

The Philippines continue to lead the group after salvaging a late draw in Doha against Yemen when Mike Ott scored from close range in the 89th minute to cancel out Tawfik Ali’s 63rd minute opener for the west Asian nation.

Dooley’s team went into the game knowing victory would move them a step closer to their first-ever Asian Cup appearance and the draw leaves the outcome of the group in the balance with two games remaining.

“If you are behind it’s not a good feeling, but the coach made a good adjustment with everybody who came in and who gave everything,” said goalscorer Ott. 

“We played forward and we made some good chances at the end of the game and it was good to make the goal.”

The Philippines take on Nepal in their next game knowing a win in Kathmandu will seal their place at the Finals as Tajikistan and Yemen will take points off one another when they meet in Dushanbe on the same day.

Photos: AFC