Tajikistan hold Iran, Bahrain triumph

KATHMANDU: Tajikistan held the defending champion of the AFC U-16 Championship Iran to a goalless draw while Bahrain rallied for a 2-1 win over Lebanon during the Group ‘B’ qualifiers here today.

Tajikistan goalkeeper Shamsov Bahodur was the player of the match who denied more than half a dozen goals. Ranked 64 in the world by the FIFA, Iran, however, dominated the match. “Sometimes even the top teams can’t perform and that’s what happened today. We have to forget this day and look for the future,” said the Iran coach Mohammadi Akbar.

Bahodur frequently made saves especially during the dying moments of the first half. He brilliantly punched away Rajabzadeh Kariji’s 30-yard shot before denying Najafi Vahid two minutes later. The Irani team, preparing for the U-17 World Cup in Nigeria next year, also dominated the second half. Najif Damirchi’s powerful shot was punched out excellently by the Tajikistan goalie in 60th minute.

With a win in the first and a draw in the second match, Tajikistan are on the top of the table with four points. Iran will now face hosts Nepal and Tajikistan will take on Lebanon on October 9.

Earlier in the first match, Abdulla Mubarak and Hamad Aldoseri pulled back a goal each for Bahrain after Ali Saad had provided Lebanon the 32nd minute lead. Ali Saad produced a stunning goal with a shot from 28 yards.

Bahrain came up with an equaliser in the 47th when Mubarak converted a cross from Sayed Fadhel. Lebanon goalie made two quick saves but Aldoseri scored the 84th minute winner.

Meanwhile, after referee blew the full-time whistle, Lebanese player Tommy Hamod punched Sayed Mahdi of Bahrain for which the referee Kadim Oda Lazeem red-carded the player. But the situation took ugly turn with players of both the sides joined the fight. The situation would have been worse had not the security personals acted swiftly.