A double from Suleyman Muhadov, saw FC HTTU of Turkmenistan through to Friday’s AFC President’s Cup final against Rimyongsu Club of North Korea, after the Turkmen team recorded a 2-1 win over Sri Lanka Air Force SC on Wednesday.
Kavindu Ishan had given the hosts a shock lead at Sugathadasa Stadium on 20 minutes but after relentless pressure from FC HTTU, Sri Lanka Air Force goalkeeper Sujan Perera’s defiance was ended in the final 10 minutes of the match as Muhadov netted his double in quick succession.
The result means FC HTTU top Group A, ahead of Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club who they defeated 3-1 on Monday, and Sri Lanka Air Force who despite taking the lead against both Manang and FC HTTU ended the tournament without picking up a point after two consecutive 2-1 defeats.
In the opening period, FC HTTU enjoyed the bulk of possession, but struggled to create any clear-cut chances, comfortable in the knowledge that a draw would be sufficient to win them the group.
However, their lethargy was punished halfway through the first period as Sri Lanka Air Force defender Danushka Welgamagey’s long ball downfield found Dimuthu Lakmal on the right-side of the penalty area and his miss-hit shot fell kindly into the path of Ishan who struck the ball over Nurgeldy Astanov for his second goal in as many games.
“It was a very tough match against a good Turkmen team with many strong players. But to see our team take and maintain the lead for over 80 minutes against such a side was very pleasing,” said Sri Lanka Air Force coach Sampath Perera, who had strikers DK Duminda and Nipuna Bandara absent from the tie through injuries.
“Our two injured forwards proved very difficult to replace them and that is why we had trouble scoring more than one goal, which we needed.
“I know the capacity and capability of the team, so nevertheless I am happy that the team has performed beyond my expectations in this tournament.”