Group A: Afghanistan 6-1 Hong Kong
Tabriz: Afghanistan turned on the power in the second half to beat Hong Kong 6-1 in their opening AFC U-20 Futsal Championship IR Iran 2019 Group A tie on Saturday.
The win meant Afghanistan are through to the quarter-finals and will face hosts Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday for the battle for the top spot, while Hong Kong bow out from the tournament.
Afghanistan were in total control in the opening minutes, as they garnered the lion’s share of possession and forced Hong Kong goalkeeper Justin Law Ho Yeung into early action, but the East Asian defence held firm.
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However, there was only so much Law could have done against the non-stop Afghan attacks as the Central Asians broke the deadlock through Mojtaba Mohammadi’s effort in the sixth minute.
The action began with Haid Reze Hossaini beating the ‘keeper from a tight angle but his strike deflected off the post, but with Law out of position and the goalmouth left unguarded, Mohammadi latched onto the rebound and made no mistake with a firm right-footed shot.
Hong Kong were reduced to long range throws, but Afghanistan reacted quickly to deny them.
Afghanistan kept the pressure on, and it almost paid off in the 17th minute when Mohammadi intercepted a back-pass before sending it to Hassan Ali Jafari, but his close-range attempt was denied by the custodian’s boots.
The East Asians gave Afghanistan a scare a minute later, when Leo Chow Ka Lok headed a kick-in into the penalty area, where Wong Wai Kwok was waiting, but the forward failed to keep his shot down as it deflected off the top bar.
Abdul Razaq Momrak’s side showed their set-piece prowess in the 20th minute, when quick one-touch passes led to Sadiq Zaheri tapping in his first goal of the tournament, with Seyed Hosseini Mousavi claiming the assist.
Ali Arab Zada got into the goalscoring action two minutes into the second half, when he sprinted down the left flank before letting loose an unstoppable strike that found the back of the net to make it 3-0.
Hong Kong’s campaign now hung in the balance as they trailed by three goals, which forced them out of their own half and press the issue.
Wong, who scored a hat-trick against Iran yesterday, was instrumental yet again. This time in the 29th minute when Afghanistan goalkeeper Mohammad Javad Safari made an error with his pass forward that was caught by Wong, and he duly set up Leo Chow for a clean finish.
Afghanistan turned Hong Kong’s aggression into an advantage, as they played with long-range passes designed to tire the East Asians, and eventually restored their three-goal lead with Dawood Yousufi finding the back of the net in the 34th minute.
Mousavi, who was Afghanistan’s top scorer in the Central Zone Qualifiers, had a taste of glory with a goal of his own after side-stepping two Hong Kong players outside the box in the 36th minute, before doubling his personal tally a minute later from the same position.
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