Heroes welcome for Tajikistan’s U-16 squad
Dushanbe: Tajikistan’s U-16 squad returned to a heroes’ welcome on Wednesday after their remarkable achievement of reaching the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 final and securing a 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup berth.
Tajikistan’s young stars met the country's President Emomali Rahmon on Thursday, who congratulated and thanked every member of the squad for their hard work on the Continental stage.
President Rahmon has allocated 660,000 Tajikistani Somoni to the Tajikistan youth team, and all 33 members of the U-16 national team were rewarded with 20,000 Tajikistani Somoni.
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The Central Asians had also received a warm welcome at the Dushanbe International Airport from Tajikistan Football Federation (TFF) President Rustam Emomali, who said: “I want to thank every member of the team for the excellent results achieved at the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018.”
“In the matches against strong teams, our team showed its character.
“During the tournament, millions of people in Tajikistan showed their love to the team. I want to thank all the fans for supporting the team throughout the Championship. Without their support, it would have been impossible to achieve such results.”
Tajikistan, led by head coach Zaynidin Rakhimov, praised TFF and President Rahmon for their unending efforts in promoting the sport.
“I want to apologise to our fans because we did not bring the title back home,” said Rakhimov. “We gave all our strength and effort, fought to the last and were able to win silver.”
Tajikistan beat DPR Korea 4-2 on penalties, following a 1-1 draw, to seal a semi-final berth and a second appearance in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
They then made history by reaching the final for the first time after defeating Korea Republic 7-6 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
However, Tajikistan fell to Japan’s Jun Nishikawa strike in the 63rd minute to finish as tournament runners-up.
Photos: Tajikistan Football Federation