Group B: Lebanon 3-2 Kyrgyz Republic
Tabriz: Jamal Selwan’s late strike proved crucial for Lebanon’s 3-2 win over Kyrgyz Republic on Saturday, which confirmed their place in the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship IR Iran 2019 quarter-finals, a result which also eliminated the Central Asians.
Lebanon will play their final Group B tie against Thailand on Sunday to determine the group winners.
There was much more on the line for Kyrgyz Republic, who were fighting to keep their campaign alive after their 4-2 loss to Thailand in the group opener on Friday.
The Central Asians’ motivation was strong and it reflected in their performance on the court, as Mamatzia Zholdoshov opened the scoring in the first minute of the match, his second of the tournament.
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Lebanon had the opportunity of watching their Group B rivals in action on Friday and fought back immediately, coming close to equalising moments later when Georgio El Khoury moved on a counter-attack that ended with him being denied by the upright.
Possession was equal, as the two teams exchanged runs from one end to the other that kept the match highly entertaining and exciting.
Both sides’ movements and passes were fluid, but as the game entered its second quarter, Lebanon began to take charge, only to be thwarted by custodian Aman Sydybekov.
Kyrgyz Republic committed their fifth foul in the 17th minute after Amandyk Uulu Denisbek’s harsh tackle on Majd Hamouch just outside the box, and Mouafac Ghattas drilled in the subsequent free-kick to bring Lebanon level.
Lebanon entered the second half ahead when captain Steve Koukezian repositioned himself to score from a kick-in set-piece in the 19th minute that left Sydybekov rooted to the ground.
Nurjan Djetybaev’s side was clearly more in control in the second half, suppressing Lebanon into a defensive formation, but the Central Asians remained persistent and were rewarded in the 26th minute, through Damir Isakov’s effort.
With the game levelled once again, both sides were out to score the winning goal, but as the game entered its final five minutes, it was Kyrgyz Republic who had more room to breathe after Lebanon incurred their fifth foul.
Lebanon could have sealed the game in the 38th minute after a series of passes led to Jamal Selwan to laying the finishing blow from close range but he succumbed under pressure and shot wide, but he atoned for his earlier error by tapping in Hamouch’s pass from close range.
Tarek Rizk: Lebanon head coach
“Usually the first games are the toughest. We conceded the first goal within the first minute. It’s going to be a big challenge (against Thailand). We’re the underdogs here, so we’re not under any pressure, while they would be. Kyrgyz Republic deserve the respect of all the teams here. But I don’t think anyone will actually know the identity of the winner until the final whistle.”
Nurjan Djetybaev: Kyrgyz Republic head coach
“It’s a very disappointing result for us. Mentally and physically, my boys were really good today. My boys trained really hard and tried their best, but I also think it’s my fault too. I’m proud of them, and we will try again in another tournament.”
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