AFC U-19 Championship: Malaysia, Tajikistan play out bad-tempered draw

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Malaysia remain in with a slim chance of reaching the AFC U-19 Championship quarter-finals following a 2-2 Group D draw with Tajikistan on Tuesday.

However, the match was overshadowed by a gruesome injury to Tajikistan’s Ziyuvuddin Fuzaylov, who was stretchered off in the closing stages with what appeared certain to be a horrific leg break.

It tarnished what had initially been a fairly entertaining encounter with both sides eventually finishing the game with ten men as Nabil Hakim Bokhari seeing red for that challenge on Ziyuvuddin, before Tajik left-back Khuseyn Nurmatov was also sent off.

Following a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening match, Malaysia entered Wednesday’s game needing a response at the Patriot Candrabhaga Stadium in order to keep their hopes alive.

They got off to the perfect start after 11 minutes when Nik Akif Syahiran’s visionary 30-yard pass released Hadi Fayyadh, who calmly finished past the onrushing Shohrukh Qirghizboev.

However, Tajikistan levelled the scores in the 34th minute when Ehsoni Panshanbe converted from the penalty spot, after Sheriddin Boboev had been dragged down inside the box by Al-Imran Halim.

The Tajiks then claimed the lead on the stroke of halftime when right-back Manucher Safarov embarked on a barnstorming run forward before playing the ball across goal to find Daler Yodgorov, who squeezed a shot through the legs of Azri Abdul Ghani and in off the post.

Nonetheless, Nabil provided the Malaysians with an equaliser of their own ten minutes into the second half.

Lining up a freekick on the edge of the box, the left-back whipped a low effort towards goal, where opposition defender Vahdat Hanonov took a wild swing at it but only succeeded in helping the ball past his own goalkeeper.

But, the game turned ugly with nine minutes remaining when Nabil slid in two-footed on Ziyuvuddin – who had only come on as a substitute four minutes earlier – and landed with the full weight of his body on the Tajik’s lower leg, leading to the painful scenes that required serious medical attention.

And, whether by retaliation or not, Tajikistan also had a man dismissed in the 87th minute as Khuseyn planted his studs on an opponent’s ankle, ensuring both teams finished the game level on both goals and players left on the field.

With one point after two games, Malaysia can still qualify from Group D but must beat China PR on Friday if they are to stand any chance of a top-two finish.

MALAYSIA: Azri Abdul Ghani, Feroz Baharudin, Al-Imran Halim, Shivan Pillay, Nabil Hakim Bokhari, Zahril Azri, Ammar Akhmall Alias (K. Thivandaran 63′), Ramadhan Saifullah, Nik Akif Syahiran (Akhyar Rashid 52′), Nurfais Johari (Ahmad Tasnim Fitri 87′), Hadi Fayyadh.

TAJIKISTAN: Shohrukh Qirghizboev, Manucher Safarov, Vahdat Hanonov, Alisher Barotov (Oyatullo Safarov 64′), Khuseyn Nurmatov, Shervoni Mabatshoev, Karomatullo Saidov, Ehsoni Panshanbe, Daler Yodgorov (Ziyuvuddin Fuzaylov 77′; Abdulmumin Zabirov 85′), Sharafjon Solehov, Sheriddin Boboev.