Maldivian efforts to qualify for the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC’s) Under-22 football championships were further setback yesterday after the squad squandered a first-half lead against Tajikistan by conceding two late goals.
Striker Imaaz Ahmed gave the Maldives a narrow first-half lead inside stoppage time to put the Under-22 team on course to secure its first points in qualification.
However, the team was eventually undone in the second-half by a late equaliser and a stoppage time own-goal that left the squad rooted at the foot of the Group C table.
Tajikistan substitute Jahongir Ergashev’s strike in the 81st minute of the match brought the teams equal, before an own goal by Thoriq Mohammed in the dying moments of the game ensured the Maldives remained the only team without a point in their championship group. The match was one in a series of qualifying games being held in Malaysia this month.
The squad will next be in action on Thursday, when they meet an Iranian side undefeated during qualification, according to the AFC.
Late goals have proven to be an issue for the Maldives during its current run of qualifying matches. The team also conceded a brace of late goals against Qatar during their previous Group C encounter on Saturday (June 23).
Tajikistan will now face Kuwait, while Bahrain will take on Qatar during the next round of matches in Group C scheduled for this week.