Qualifiers - Group C: Tajikistan, Syria set up final day showdown
Dushanbe: Tajikistan will only need a draw in their final qualifying match to seal their place in the AFC U-19 Championship 2020 Finals after defeating Lebanon 1-0 in a hard-fought Group C tie at the Republican Central Stadium on Friday.
The hosts, however, will have to brace themselves for another tough encounter as they will face Syria, who defeated Maldives 3-2 earlier on Friday, in their final qualifying tie on Sunday.
Syria, on four points after having played to a 1-1 draw in their opener against Lebanon on Wednesday, will have to win to seal top spot and confirm their place in the 2020 Finals.
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Lebanon 0-1 Tajikistan
Lebanon proved to be far more difficult opponents for Tajikistan, who had strolled to a 9-0 win over Maldives on Wednesday.
The West Asians needed three points after their opening day stalemate with Syria and did not allow Tajikistan to dictate play.
Both sides had their chances but neither could find the finishing touch as the first half ended goalless.
Спасибо всем болельщикам за поддержку молодежной сборной Таджикистана в матче второго тура отборочного турнира чемпионата Азии-2020 против сборной Ливана (1:0).— Tajikistan Football (@fft_official) October 4, 2019
Пользуясь случаем, приглашаем всех любителей футбола на заключительную встречу нашей «молодежки» против сборной Сирии. pic.twitter.com/S2LykvXxwR
That changed dramatically just seconds into the restart as Tajikistan took the lead through Shahrom Samiev, a hat-trick hero in the emphatic win over Maldives.
That would prove to be the winning goal and one that takes Tajikistan within touching distance of the Finals.
Maldives 2-3 Syria
Both teams went into the tie desperately needing a win, with Syria having settled for a 1-1 draw with Lebanon on Matchday One while Maldives were on the receiving end of a 9-0 score against Tajikistan.
It was Maldives, however, who made a great start as defender Savee Ibrahim gave them the lead in the 19th minute.
That resulted in Syria turning on the pressure and their constant attacks bore fruit in the 25th minute, with the unfortunate Ibrahim turning the ball into his own net to level the tie.
That was followed eight minutes later by forward Mohammad Alawad Almalhem finding the back of the net as Syria took a 2-1 lead into the half-time break.
Maldives, however, were a far more spirited side then the one that had succumbed to Tajikistan and captain Hassan Nazeem drew them level in the 55th minute.
There was to be no points for Maldives though as forward Amar Ramadan restored Syria's lead in the 62nd minute and the West Asians held on for the three points.
Group C is the first of 11 to have kicked off the qualifying campaign where the group winners and four best runners-up will join hosts Uzbekistan in the 2020 Finals. The remaining groups will be contested in November.
Should Uzbekistan finish either first in their group or are among the best four second-placed teams, the fifth best runners-up will seal a place in the Finals scheduled for October 14 and 31, 2020.
Photos: Tajikistan Football Federation
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