Kathmandu: Turkmenistan will get another crack at AFC Challenge Cup glory after Gahryman Chonkayev’s late winner gave the 2010 runners-up a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the Philippines in the first of Friday’s semi-finals at the Dashrath Stadium.
The Philippines took a 25th minute lead when Phil Younghusband headed home his fourth of the campaign only for Turkmenistan Player of the Year Arslanmyrat Amanov to equalise in the 79th minute before Chonkayev settled the contest with four minutes left to play.
The Azkals went into the match without the influential duo of James Younghusband and Angel Guirado, who was the standout player in the Philippines’ superb come-from-behind win over Tajikistan, setting up Phil Younghusband for the equaliser before netting the late winner.
Paul Mulders moved into midfield to replace Guirado while Angel’s brother Juan dropped into defence, with Jason Sabio absent with a knee injury.
Misagh Bahadoran came in for James Younghusband, the Azkals’ captain in their their opening match against defending champions DPR Korea, with Jason de Jong was making his first appearance in the tournament.
A loss of concentration in the Turkmen defence allowed Phil Younghusband a shot on target but his eighth minute shot flashed just wide of Rahmanberdi Alyhanov’s right post before the Central Asians advanced up field with Elman Tagayev drawing a fine save from Neil Etheridge.
In the 17th minute Younghusband showed some nimble feet to charge past three Turkmen defenders only to see his shot blocked at the near post before the former Chelsea reserve acrobatically volleyed Guirado’s long throw just wide eight minutes later.
But the goal the Philippines had been threatening came a minute later and it was no surprise that it came from Younghusband, with the 24-year-old heading home Mulders’ cross for his tournament-leading fourth of the campaign.
Turkmenistan pressed for the equaliser with Gahryman Chonkayev rattling the underside of the bar before Amanov tested Etheridge with a shot from distance as the game reached the half-hour mark.
Three minutes later Alyhanov had to be alert to block a shot from Philippines’ skipper Emelio Caligdong before the Turkmenistan captain comfortably stopped a long-range free-kick from Younghusband.
The Turkmen had a glorious chance to level when Chonkayev’s cutback across the face of goal gave Amanov open target but a rare error from the Turkmenistan Player of the Year saw him scuff his 41st minute shot and just a minute later Etheridge stood tall to block Chonkayev from close range.
Turkmenistan did have the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time but Guvanch Rejepov was offside when he headed home Amanov’s dangerous free-kick.
Six minutes into the second-half Ruslan Mingazov shot high and wide after being sent clear by Umidjan Astanov, who was booked a minute earlier for a wild lunge at diminutive winger Caligdong, before Etheridge safely gathered Serdar Annaorazov’s effort from distance as Turkmenistan battled to get back into the semi-final.
A mistake from Guirado gave Turkmenistan 63rd minute free-kick which came to nothing before a stray pass in the Turkmen defence allowed the speedy Caligdong to intercept possession before Annaorazov but his pass across goal was fired wide by Younghusband.
The Philippines again came close when substitute Lexton Moy’s 74th minute drive following some good build-up play from Ray Jonsson and Mulders and the Azkals’ failure to extend their advantage was punished five minutes later when Ammanov equalised with a superb low drive.
Things got worse the Philippines when Guvanch Abylov robbed fellow substitute Roel Gener and set up Chonkayev who scored the winner with four minutes left to play.
The Philippines disappointment was compounded in stoppage-time when keeper Etheridge was red carded for an off the ball incident involving goal scorer Chonkayev.