Defending champions Tajikistan held by Turkemenistan

July 30th, 2008 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, July 30 (IANS) Defending champions Tajikistan were forced to play a goalless game by Turkmenistan in the opening match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup at the Gachibowli Stadium here Wednesday. Turkmensitan was by far the most impressive team, but the obdurate Tajikistan didn’t give in. Take away couple of close calls, neither team showed urgency and seemed happy splitting points from their Group A match.

What the teams have done in the process, however, is to send out a strong signal for other teams in the group, more so India, that it would be tough to break their defence.

Turkmenistan’s strategy was to get their forwards to hustle and harry the defence and at the other end frustrate the Tajikistan’s limited attack from moving up.

The only opening in the first half came Tajikistan way, but Fatkhtullo Fatkhuloev’s attempt was punched out by Turkemenistan captain and goalkeeper Bayram Berdiyev.

As the game progressed the Turkmenistan gameplan appeared to click, even their cynical measures to check their opponents in their track.

Turkmenistan mid-fielder Vyaceslav Krendelev showed that he will be crucial in the team’s success in the tournament. Krendelev, who plays for Russian Premier League Club Amkar Perm, was undoubtedly the best player on view and created good openings for his teammates.

The resolute Krendelev, who operated on the left wing, along with Bhaktyar Hojahemedov made regular forays but were unlucky to find the goal.

In contrast, the much fancied Tajikistan appeared lethargic and their attackers invariably ran into a dead end.

The second half continued in a similar vein, with Tajikistan looking increasingly comfortable, defending in numbers. The coach Pulod Kodirov rang the changes bringing in defender Sohib Savankulov for listless mid-fielder Fatkhuloev. In the dying minutes of the game the coach substituted his ineffective striker Davrondzhon Tukhtasunov with defender Zafardhzon Zuvaydov.

Towards the end, the two teams have resigned to the fact that neither set of forwards have the firepower to breach the other’s defence. In any case, it is too early to form an opinion on the real strength of the two teams, Tajkistan in particular.

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