Cambodia 0-1 Afghanistan

Phnom Penh: Afghanistan picked up their first win of the 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifiers when Mustafa Zazai struck with four minutes of Tuesday’s Group E encounter with Cambodia remaining.

Both sides had been on the receiving end of a heavy defeat in their respective Preliminary Round 2 openers last week and were keen to get their qualifying campaigns back on track after the Cambodians and the Afghans went down to Singapore (4-0) and Syria (6-0) respectively.

With neither side able to seize the initiative, Tuesday’s meeting at the Olympic Stadium in the Cambodian capital appeared destined for a draw until Zazai, who plays his club football in the German Regionalliga Nord for FC St. Pauli II, sealed all three points for the 2013 SAFF Championship winners.

The win took the Afghans level on points with Syria, who are second in the Group F standings on goal difference. Both Afghanistan and Syria, who were not in action on Tuesday, are just one point behind surprise early leaders Singapore after the Lions held Japan to a goalless draw as the four-time AFC Asian Cup made a low-key start to their quest to qualify for a sixth successive FIFA World Cup.

The participating teams will compete according to a double round robin format, with the Round 2 qualification matches being held between June 11, 2015 and March 29, 2016.

The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup.

 

Asian Football Confederation

 

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