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    AFC Challenge Cup: Strong Turkmenistan enter final

    Turkmenistan made a brilliant comeback to score twice in seven minutes to beat Philippines 2-1.

    Kathmandu: Turkmenistan made a brilliant comeback to score twice in seven minutes to beat Philippines 2-1 at the Dashrat Rangsala Stadium, Nepal in the first semi-final of the AFC Challenge Cup on Friday.

    Goals from Arsalanmyrat Amanov and Gahrymanberdy Chonkaev late in the second half were enough for the Turks after Phil Younghusband had scored for the Azkals.

    The two teams made three changes to their line-ups from the last match as Ahmet Atayev, Ruslan Mingazov and Astanov Umidjan got the nod for Turkmenistan, while Jason de Jong, Misagh Bahadoran and Marwin Angeles found their way into the starting eleven for the Philippines.

    Although it was Turkmenistan who saw more of the ball, the Azkals had the better opportunities, with Phil Younghusband’s attempt in the eighth minute missing the target by not much being the first. Juan Luis Gurrado’s throw-in saw Younghusband volley it wide, with the Turkmenistani defence caught napping in the 26th minute. The breakthrough came in the next instance though, when Paul Mulders’ cross from the right saw Younghusband chest it down to make it 1-0.

    Thereafter Turkmenistan launched an attack of their own when Gahrymanberdy Chonkaev cut inside and saw his left-footed shot come off the crossbar. A minute later, Chonkaev was through on goal but goalkeeper Neil Etheridge did well to come off his line to deny the winger.

    Before the half-time break, Turkmenistan did manage to find the back of the net from a Şöhrat Soyunow’s header, but the linesman flagged it offside.

    After the break, the Azkals chose to stay behind the ball and hoped to attack on the counter, a ploy which failed terribly. While Turkmenistan were guilty of failing to create openings in spite of enjoying a lot of possession, the Philippines lacked the belief to take on their opponents and initiate an attack of their own. Aside from a Jason de Jong shot in the 76th minute, which was kept away by Rahmanberdi Alyhanov, there wasn’t much attacking threat posed by them.

    The equaliser came in the 80th minute when Arsalanmyrat Amanov was given time and space outside the box to shoot, and he did so to beat Etheridge. It was then Chonkaev’s time for redemption as he arguably scored the goal of the competition. He twisted and turned inside the box from the right and slotted the ball home towards the far post to leave the Philippines spellbound.

    The match ended with ugly scenes after Neil Etheridge had an altercation with Chonkaev, which left the latter in pain. Etheridge was sent off in the fourth minute of injury time to leave his side to contend the last minute with ten men.

    It was certainly a top performance by the Azkals to have made it into the semis, however, the lack of experience eventually caught up with them on which the Turks capitalized.