Ashgabat: Turkmenistan head coach Robert Grdovic was cautiously optimistic after his side discovered their group stage opponents for the AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan 2020 on Friday.
The tournament hosts will need to navigate a group featuring Vietnam, Tajikistan and tournament debutants Oman if they are to advance to the knockout stage on home court in Ashgabat after all four sides were drawn in Group A at Ashgabat’s Olympia Hotel.
Grdovic, a former Croatian international who has led Turkmenistan’s national team since March, isn’t expecting any easy matches in the Continental Finals, but believes his side will arrive ready to compete strongly.
Memorable clashes ahead as Turkmenistan 2020 groups revealed
Ashgabat: The path to Asian futsal glory has become clearer for the Continent’s top 16 teams, after the AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan 2020 official draw was conducted at Ashgabat’s Olympia Hotel on Friday.
The ceremony separated the 16 qualified teams into four groups ahead of next year’s competition, where the best in Asian futsal will compete for the title of Continental champions.
Host nation Turkmenistan will begin the competition with what is sure to be a hotly anticipated clash against tournament debutants Oman on February 26, before rounding their Group A commitments with matches against Tajikistan and Vietnam. The final will be played on March 8.
Ho Chi Minh: Thailand beat Indonesia 5-0 to successfully defend their AFF Futsal Championship title at the Phu Tho Stadium on Sunday.
Thailand entered the fray as favourites, having won the tournament in every appearance since 2001, while Indonesia, who narrowly beat Myanmar 4-3 in the semi-finals, were aiming for an upset, setting the stage for a thrilling match.
Ho Chi Minh: Vietnam overcame a tenacious Myanmar 7-3 to finish third in the AFF Futsal Championship 2019, which also secured their place in the AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan 2020 Finals.
The match began on a competitive note as both sides were aiming for the final ticket to Turkmenistan 2020, but it was Tran Thai Huy who opened the scoring in the sixth minute, before doubling Vietnam's lead moments after the restart.
Qualifiers - Group B: IR Iran too strong for Kyrgyz Republic
Urmiya: Islamic Republic of Iran completed their AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan 2020 Qualifiers for the South & Central Zones as group winners after an impressive 8-3 win over Kyrgyz Republic at the Ghadir Hall on Friday.
Mahdi Javid starred with a hat-trick, while Mahdi Karimi scored twice in an entertaining battle between two already-qualified teams, with nine of the 11 goals coming in an action-packed first half.