Qualifiers - Group D: UAE and Islamic Republic of Iran cruise
Tehran: United Arab Emirates and Islamic Republic of Iran made positive starts to their AFC U-19 Championship Uzbekistan 2020 Group D qualifying campaigns following a 4-0 win over Nepal and 3-0 victory over Kyrgyz Republic respectively at the PAS Stadium on Wednesday.
The UAE were hardly troubled as they took a 2-0 lead going into the break before completing the job in the second half while Iran turned on the power in the second half to see off a gritty Kyrgyz Republic.
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UAE 4-0 Nepal
Nepal goalkeeper Bishal Sunar was tested early in the game and kept the UAE at bay for the most part of the opening half an hour.
The West Asians, however, found a way through when Nabin Gurung conceded an own goal in the 27th minute off Eisa Khalfan Al Harasi’s through ball to put UAE in the lead.
Ferdo Milin’s charges had a chance to double their lead in the 33rd minute but Rashed Abdulla’s free-kick was easily collected by Sunar.
Nepal could have responded a minute later when Akash Budha Magar sent an inviting cross from the left but Rajiv Lopchan fired his overhead kick high above the bar.
The UAE, however, increased their advantage in the 38th minute through Al Harasi’s strike for a comfortable lead going into the break.
Nepal returned in the second half with renewed confidence but found it hard to break down their opponents.
The South Asians, despite their best efforts, were unable to prevent the UAE from scoring as late goals from Khalifa Yousuf Ahmad and Abdulla Hamad Almenhali gave the West Asians a 4-0 victory.
Islamic Republic of Iran 3-0 Kyrgyz Republic
Both teams tried their best to score but neither could find the opener as the score remained 0-0 at half-time.
Four-time champions IR Iran, however, laid down the marker in 53rd minute through Aria Barzegar's header at the far post as he finished off Ahmad Reza Jalali's delivery from the left flank.
The goal spurred Seyyed Akbar Mousavi's side to push forward as they dominated the game and their persistence paid off in the 78th minute when Alireza Monazami rose highest to head home Iran's second goal.
Yasin Salmani then ended the proceedings with his penalty strike in the 82nd minute to seal the points.
Iran play Nepal on Friday while Kyrgyz Republic will aim to revive their hopes against the UAE.
Tajikistan have already qualified as Group C winners while Group G kicked off on Saturday. Group A of the Qualifiers - featuring Iraq, Oman, Palestine, Kuwait and Pakistan - has been postponed with new dates to be announced in due course.
The 11 group winners and four best runners-up will join hosts Uzbekistan in the 2020 Finals.
Should Uzbekistan finish either top of Group F of the Qualifiers or are among the best four second-placed teams, the fifth best runners-up will qualify.
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