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Qualifiers - Group A: Uzbekistan dazzle to finish top, Afghanistan sign off with win

Urmiya: Uzbekistan produced a stunning display to finish top, while Afghanistan’s campaign finished on a high note as the AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan 2020 Qualifiers Group A concluded at Ghadir Hall on Friday.

With their place in the Finals secured 24 hours prior, Uzbekistan produced a superb performance to comprehensively beat fellow qualifiers Tajikistan 9-3, while Afghanistan salvaged some pride with a parting 6-2 win over Nepal.

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Uzbekistan 9-3 Tajikistan

Uzbekistan showed why they are among the regular contenders for the AFC Futsal Championship title, after recovering from a slow start to finish on top of the group with a thumping 9-3 win over previously unbeaten Tajikistan.

Davron Choriev scored a hat-trick, while Akbar Usmonov netted a brace as Bakhodir Akhmedov’s side completed their week in Urmiya with a perfect record of three wins from as many matches.

Tajikistan came into the match already qualified for next year’s Finals and ahead of Uzbekistan on the Group A standings; a position that they looked likely to retain when Bahodur Khajaev scored in the opening minute, then added a second Tajikistan goal three minutes later.

But Uzbekistan are a side with FIFA Futsal World Cup experience, and they bounced back in style through Usmonov’a first goal, before Khusniddin Nishonov levelled the tie in the 15th minute, with Usmonov’s second putting them ahead two minutes later.

Tajikistan’s collapse continued, with Dilshod Rakhmatov and Choriev (pictured below) both adding further goals to make it 5-2 at half-time, and the Uzbeks took their scoring blitz even further with four goals in as many minutes in the early stages of the second period.

Khushnur Erkinov scored in the 25th minute to bring up the half-dozen, with Choriev adding two goals in two minutes to complete his hat-trick before Dilmurod Shavkatov rounded Uzbekistan’s surge with their ninth goal.

Tajikistan netted a 31st minute goal through Rahmonali Sharipov, but it was little consolation for Dejan Dedovic’s side, who will aim for improvement ahead of next year’s Finals in Turkmenistan.

Nepal 2-6 Afghanistan

Seyed Hossein Mousavi scored twice as Abdul Razaq Momrak’s side ran away with the points to finish third in the group.

Both sides had already been eliminated following previous defeats to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,

Afghanistan took the lead through captain Mohsen Rezayi in the second minute, but Aadil Hamid hit back for Nepal shortly after to level the tie at 1-1.

Mousavi then netted his first of the afternoon in the 12th minute, with Nepal’s Mani Kumar Lama and Afghanistan’s Akbar Kazemi both adding goals late in the first half as Afghanistan took a 3-2 lead into the half-time break.

From there, it was all Afghanistan. Mehdi Hasemi made it 4-2 in the 27th minute, before Farzad Mahmoodi added another and Mousavi bagged his third of the tournament to complete the scoring in the final minute.

Afghanistan had been hoping to qualify for a first AFC Futsal Championship, particularly after reaching the semi-finals at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, but their two previous defeats meant the win over Nepal counted only for pride.

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