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IR Iran set the pace with opening win

Dushanbe: Islamic Republic of Iran signalled their intentions with an impressive 2-0 win over Uzbekistan, while Turkmenistan and Afghanistan shared the points as the 2019 CAFA U-19 Championship began in Tajikistan on Friday.

The Central Asian tournament is being used as preparations for November’s AFC U-19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers, in which all five teams will feature.

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Iran began their campaign in stunning fashion, accounting for 2016 champions Uzbekistan to win 2-0 at Dushanbe Central Stadium.

Head coach Sirous Pourmousavi revealed his side’s goal of leaving Tajikistan as Central Asian champions in Thursday’s pre-tournament press conference, and his young squad live up to early expectations with two second-half goals.

Mohammed Hossein Zavvari broke the deadlock for Iran in the 50th minute, before 17-year-old midfielder Mahdi Hashemnezhad Rahimabadi doubled their lead in the 75th minute.

The double blow was one from which Uzbekistan were unable to recover, making Saturday’s clash with Afghanistan one of added importance, while Iran have the weekend off before returning to action against Turkmenistan on Monday.


A late equaliser from Begenchmyrat Myradov rescued a point for Turkmenistan and denied Afghanistan a dream start as the sides shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw in Friday’s earlier match.

Afghanistan took the lead through forward Farshid Wojdi inside 10 minutes, but Aziz Kmabarov’s young charges hit back just seven minutes later when defender Ruslan Priyev ventured forward to net the equaliser.

The goals kept flowing when Tareq Mohammadi restored Afghanistan’s lead in the 25th minute, before what looked like developing into an opening day goal fest settled into a more reasonable tempo.

Kamabarov made six substitutions to the Turkmenistan line-up as the warm weather began to test the endurance of even the fittest players on the pitch, but it was one of the starters who came up with all-important equaliser, as Myradov made the most of an 89th minute opportunity to seal a point for his side.

The CAFA U-19 Championship will be decided on a round-robin basis, with the final Matchday to held next Thursday.

Saturday (all times local): Afghanistan v Uzbekistan: 17:00, Turkmenistan v Tajikistan: 20:00.

Photos: Central Asian Football Association

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