Tajikistan reach the summit as Afghanistan stun IR Iran
Dushanbe: Host nation Tajikistan lead the field with two matchdays remaining at the CAFA U-16 Championship, after a late goal from Afghanistan’s Ahmad Zakaria Hussaini gave Islamic Republic of Iran their first defeat of the competition on Monday.
Hussaini’s goal - coupled with Tajikistan’s comfortable 3-0 win over Turkmenistan - helped the hosts move to the top of the standings on seven points, with only goal difference separating them from Afghanistan.
In Monday’s other match, Uzbekistan held off a fast-finishing Kyrgyz Republic to register their first win of the competition, which pits the region’s brightest young talents against each other over five 70-minute matches apiece in Dushanbe and Hisor.
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TAJIKISTAN 3-0 TURKMENISTAN
Three late goals sealed a second successive win for Tajikistan, and kept Turkmenistan rooted to the bottom of the table, as the hosts prevailed 3-0 in Dushanbe.
Having already suffered defeats against Iran and Afghanistan, Turkmenistan kept Akhliddin Turdiev’s in-form side at bay for all of the first half and much of the second, but Sunatullo Azizov broke the floodgates in the 59th minute - two minutes after entering the fray as a substitute - and it proved to be the turning point in the contest.
Muhammadvoris Saidaliev continued his fruitful tournament with Tajikistan’s second goal in the 67th minute, before another substitute Khusrav Toirov added a third in the fourth minute of stoppage time to seal a comfortable home win, and eclipse Turkmenistan’s hopes of a regional title with two games still to play.
IR IRAN 0-1 AFGHANISTAN
Tajikistan’s win became even more significant following the final match of the day in Dushanbe, as Iran’s perfect winning record was dented by a late winner from Afghanistan.
A 0-0 draw appeared the most likely outcome after a scoreless opening hour, but Afghan forward Ahmad Zakaria Hussaini added to his growing reputation by netting the game’s only goal with just four minutes remaining.
Afghanistan’s late rally continues a fine run of form so far in the competition, with the Wahidulah Wahidi-led side still unbeaten after three matches and very much in contention ahead of Thursday’s tournament finale.
Iran, meanwhile, have an immediate chance to atone for their defeat in Tuesday’s blockbuster clash with Tajikistan in Dushanbe.
KYRGYZ REPUBLIC 2-3 UZBEKISTAN
In Monday’s other match, Azamat Aburaimov’s Uzbekistan side picked up their first win of the competition, making the most of a commanding first half performance to claim a 3-2 victory over Kyrgyz Republic in Hisor.
While their mission was ultimately accomplished, it could have been much more straightforward for Uzbekistan, who stormed to a 3-0 lead shortly after half-time before Nurlan Bukuev’s side mounted a an improbable comeback.
Uzbekistan led within two minutes through Azizjon Toshkentboev, doubled their lead with a Murodbek Khujamberdiev’ 29th-minute penalty and extended it even further three minutes into the second-half through half-time substitute Alisher Khayrullaev.
Krygyz Republic hit back nearly immediately through Atai Ichibek uluu in the 41st minute and Yryskeldi Tynybekov brought them to within striking distance five minutes later, but they were unable to find the third goal required to complete the turnaround and Uzbekistan celebrated a win which keeps them in contention.
Tuesday (all times local): IR Iran v Tajikistan (18.00); Afghanistan v Uzbekistan (18.00); Turkmenistan v Kyrgyz Republic (20.30).
Photos: Central Asian Football Association
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