Tashkent: Uzbekistan edged Tajikistan 5-4 with the hosts holding off a late scare to qualify for the next year’s finals of the AFC Futsal Championship.
In the qualifiers match of South and Central Region played at the Uzbekistan Sports Complex, the hosts were in comfort zone after firing five goals past Tajikistan in first 29 minutes of the match but the Tajiks, who had defeated Kyrgyzstan in their first outing a day before, netted three late goals to put the Uzbeks under pressure in the dying moment of the match.
Samad Shohzukhurov scored in his own net as Uzbekistan took a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute. Strikes from Dilshod Rakhmatov, Dilshod Irsaliev and Artur Yunusov put the Uzbeks 4-0 in front in the 22nd minute but Sherzod Jumaev pulled one back for Tajikistan.
Nodir Elibaev netted Uzbekistan’s fifth goal in the 29th minute after which Tajikistan resurgence continued with three quick-fire goals which was not sufficient enough to earn point from the match.
Tajikistan face Turkmenistan and even a draw will be enough for them to qualify in the tournament proper while Kyrgyzstan will try to beat Uzbekistan on Thursday.
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Mekkah: Al Ittihad coach Khalid Al Koroni expressed his delight after two-time winners Al Ittihad joined Al Ain in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League with a 2-0 win over 10-man Iranian side Tractorsazi Tabriz on Tuesday.
Riyadh: Home team Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia come into Wednesday night’s Group A fixture against Iran’s Esteghlal at the top of the group and riding high from their King’s Cup quarter-final win over fellow AFC Champions league side Al Hilal last Friday.