Geldiyev: First leg defeat will spur us on
Ashgabat: Altyn Asyr FC captain Serdar Geldiyev believes last Tuesday’s 3-2 first leg defeat will provide his side with additional motivation when they play their AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-final second leg tie against Vietnam’s Hanoi FC at Kopetdag Stadium on Tuesday.
Two away goals in Hanoi might ordinarily have been welcomed with open arms at this stage of the competition, but Nguyen Quang Hai’s scintillating brace and a late Nguyen Van Quyet penalty left the Turkmenistan champions a deficit to overturn in the return leg.
A veteran of Inter-Zone wins against India’s JSW Bengaluru FC and 4.25 SC of DPR Korea in his side’s charge to last year’s AFC Cup final, Geldiyev said that while losing late in Vietnam was a bitter pill to swallow, Altyn Asuyr remain well-placed to advance on home soil.
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“We were not very lucky in this game (in Hanoi), but I believe we can do better in our home stadium in front of our own supporters,” he said.
“We had to defend more than we were able to attack, but we also scored two goals which could be important so that's not all bad.
“Losing always leaves a bad feeling, but we're now even more motivated to win the second leg.”
Now 31, and in his fifth campaign, Geldiyev is an AFC Cup veteran. He first appeared in the competition as an 18-year for HTTU Ashgabat in 2006 before having to wait another decade to feature again on the Continental stage at club level.
The midfielder moved to AFC Cup regulars Altyn Asyr prior to the 2015 season and success has consistently followed, with four of the club’s five successive Yokary Liga titles coming following Geldiyev’s arrival.
The Ashgabat-based club have developed an ingrained winning culture under head coach Yazguly Hojageldiyev and, with a three-year unbeaten run in home AFC Cup fixtures, it is one they will carry into Tuesday’s clash.
“We expect to win and that's all we're thinking of,” declared Geldiyev.
“I hope our fans will come to watch the game, support and encourage us.”
The winners of the AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-final tie between Altyn Asyr and Hanoi FC will advance to the Inter-Zone final, where they will meet either DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC or Abahani Limited Dhaka of Bangladesh.
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