MD6 - Group H: Turkmenistan 2-0 Sri Lanka
Ashgabat: Turkmenistan completed a dream week on home soil to take top spot, at least temporarily, in Group H of the Asian Qualifiers after a 2-0 win over Sri Lanka at Kopetdag Stadium on Tuesday.
Abdy Bashimov and Altymyrat Annadurdyyev found the back of the net as Turkmenistan backed up Thursday’s 3-1 success against DPR Korea to move to nine points from five matches.
Ante Miše’s side are now a single point ahead of Korea Republic, who hold a game in hand, while Sri Lanka remain at the bottom of the group without a goal or a point after five matches.
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The first thing established in Tuesday’s clash was that Miše is a man of his word, with the Croatian head coach selecting the precise starting line-up he had projected during Monday’s pre-match press conference.
That meant strikers Mihail Titov and Vahyt Oraszahedov - both goal scorers against DPR Korea – remained on the bench, with Arslan Amanov and Didar Durdiyev preferred, but the starting duo were unable to provide the early goal many had expected.
When the breakthrough arrived in the dying moments of the first half, it was a defender who provided it with FC Ahal’s Bashimov giving the hosts a valuable half-time lead in the 44th minute.
Turkmenistan’s second goal was quicker in arriving and came from a more familiar source when Annadurdyyev made it 2-0 just before the hour mark to give the Central Asian side a clear path to victory.
The introductions of Mohammed Aakib and Mariyathas Nitharshan suggested a hunger to find a way back into the match on Sri Lanka’s part, but Turkmenistan held firm to secure a comfortable win; one which will give their campaign life going into 2020.
Turkmenistan will travel to Korea Republic when the Asian Qualifiers return next March, while Sri Lanka’s next fixture is away to DPR Korea.
Photos: Football Federation of Turkmenistan
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