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.
Sydney: FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo blamed crucial lapses in concentration as FC Seoul lost Wednesday's AFC Champions League semi-final second leg 2-0 to Western Sydney Wanderers to miss out on a second consecutive final appearance.
Former finalist Eugene Galekovic has hailed Western Sydney Wanderers for becoming the second Australian side to reach the AFC Champions League final ahead of Saturday's first leg, although the veteran goalkeeper is amazed by the speed in which the A-League's newest side have followed up Adelaide United's 2008 achievement.
Korea Republic international centre-back Kwak Tae-hwi is hoping to rewrite his and Al Hilal's history ahead of the first leg of this year's AFC Champions League final against Australia's Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.