4th AFC Challenge Cup: Second Pakistan-Turkmenistan football clash in March

Lahore, 3 February: The second international soccer encounter between Pakistan and Turkmenistan will be recorded in the fourth AFC Challenge Cup Qualifier coming March. The winners of the finals will qualify for the 16th Asian Cup at Australia 2015. Turkmensitan are being placed with Pakistan and 2008 Champion in Group B alongwith Chinese Taipei/Laos winner. Defending champions DPR Korea were placed in Group D of the event with Nepal, Sri Lanka and the winner of playoff.

Muslims constitute 89% of the population of Turkmenistan, one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR). Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the southeast.

Following the fragmentation of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, Turkmenistan became an independent footballing nation in their own right. After gaining independence the challenge for the Turkmenistan football team was to attempt qualification for the Asian Cup and they achieved their ambition in 2004 after failures in 1996, 2000 and later on in 2007, 2011.

The first-ever Pakistan-Turkmensitan was recorded on 7 June 1993, when at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, Andrei Martynov-led Turks pocketted 4-0 win in  Group A tie of sixth ECO Cup, a football competition for members of Economic Cooperation Organisation (formerly RCD Cup). RCD abbreviates Regional Corporation for Development and was an economic cooperation between Iran, Pakistan and Turkey from 1964 to 1979. A new organisation, ECO, was set up in 1985. Turks, coached by Bairam Durdiyev, later on reached the final and finished runners-up to Iran.

PFF fielded Pakstan A in the Tehran’s ECO Cup under Lal Muhammad Lalo who returned to KESC after a decade and managed five goals in PPFL 2008. Pakistan National team was then busy in 1994 USA World Cup Qualifiers against China, Yemen, Iraq and Jordan in same month (June 1993) at Irbid’s Aman Al Hassan Sports Complex and China’s Chengdu Sports Complex

Turkmenistan were unlucky not to enter 15th Asian Cup final phase that ended on last Saturday with Japan edging out Australia 1-0 in final through substitute Tadanari Lee’s goal at  Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium.
Under Yazguly Hojageldiyev, the youngest coach ever to take charge of Turkmenistan, now 34, missed the bus when they lost to North Korea in third AFC Challenge Cup final at  Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo on 27 February 2010. It was big disappointed for skipper and goal keeper Baýramnyýaz Berdiýew as Turks lost 4-5 on penalty shoot out after 1-1 drawn final. Same scoreline was recorded in the League between two teams.