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IR Iran, Tajikistan go further clear with commanding wins


Dushanbe: Islamic Republic of Iran and Tajikistan emerged as the two sides most likely to claim the CAFA U-19 Championship title, each continuing their perfect record with comprehensive wins on Monday.

Iran began the action with a thumping 4-0 win over Turkmenistan, before Tajikistan kept pace with Sirous Pourmousavi’s side with a 3-1 win over Afghanistan.

The regional title is now mathematically beyond both Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, with Uzbekistan the only team remaining who could theoretically challenge the leading pair with two Matchdays remaining.

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IR IRAN 4-0 TURKMENISTAN

Fresh from a weekend off, Iran wasted little time in getting back to work, scoring two early goals on the way to an impressive 4-0 win over Turkmenistan at Dushanbe Central Stadium.

Less than two minutes had elapsed when Iran took the lead, with Persepolis youngster Aria Barzegar punishing Turkmenistan goalkeeper Serdar Rovshenov for straying into no man’s land to find an empty net, and one become two when Hossein Mohammed Zavvari dissected the wall to score with a free-kick 12 minutes later.

It looked as though Turkmenistan were in for a long afternoon, but they steadied the ship sufficiently to prevent further goals before half-time and even carved out chances of their own to take a semblance of hope into the second-half.

They remained in the contest until the 81st minute, when Iranian substitute Hossein Bizhani finished off a counter-attacking move from 10 yards, before another substitute, Seyed Reza Mousavian, headed home the final goal in the second minute of stoppage time.

Iran’s win takes them two wins from as many matches without conceding a goal, while Turkmenistan, now out of contention for the title, will finish their campaign against Uzbekistan on Tuesday.


TAJIKISTAN 3-1 AFGHANISTAN

Tournament hosts Tajikistan retained their status as competition leaders, defeating Afghanistan 3-1 to knock the visitors out of title calculations with two Matchdays remaining.

Zaynidin Rakhimov’s side made sure the enthusiastic crowd of 1,200 went home happy, outclassing their opponents to make the three points safe long before the final whistle, and ensuring they remain at the forefront of what is increasingly shaping up to be a two-horse race.

It took just eight minutes for the hosts to take charge at Dushanbe Central Stadium, as Islom Zairov – one of several squad members preparing for this year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil – finished off a sweeping team move with a low effort from close range.

Already a goal scorer at senior international level, Shahrom Samiev continued his meteoric rise with a belter of a second, tricking his way past a couple of defenders before beating goalkeeper Abdul Mosawer Attai from 20 yards to make it 2-0 after 36 minutes.

Tajikistan’s win rarely looked in doubt, but Abdulmumin Zabirov made sure of it when he added a third from the penalty spot in the 68th minute, before Afghanistan’s Rashed Azizi punished the hosts for switching off in the fourth minute of stoppage time to pull back a goal for the visitors.

With Afghanistan and Turkmenistan already out of the running, Tajikistan have the opportunity to remove another side from the equation when they face Uzbekistan on Tuesday, while Iran will look to continue their winning streak against Afghanistan.

The round-robin competition wraps up on Thursday, with the final match between Tajikistan and Iran looking increasingly likely to decide the champions.

Photos: Central Asian Football Association

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