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.
Riyadh: Bunyodkor coach Aleksandr Volkov was magnanimous in his praise of Al Hilal after the Saudi club knocked the Uzbek champions out of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday with a 3-0 win over his team in the Round of 16.
Ahvaz: Psychology is crucial for Al Sadd head coach Hussain Amotta as he prepares his side for Wednesday night’s second leg against Iranian champions Foolad Khouzestan in the AFC Champions League round of 16.
Al Ain: Jires Kembo Ekoko has shown early promise after rejoining the ACL quarter-finalists by finishing as leadimg scorer at the Al Ain International Football Championship with three goals in two matches.