DUSHANBE, February 22, 2010, Asia-Plus  -- Tajik football players have qualified for semi-finals of the 2010 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup.

Former AFC Challenge Cup champions Tajikistan secured top spot in Group A with an impressive 3-0 win over fellow semi-finalists Myanmar at CR & FC Grounds in Colombo on Saturday, February 20.

Ibrohim Rabimov''s stunning first-half free-kick and second-half strikes from Numonjon Hakimov and Yusuf Rabiyev ensured the 2008 finalists will face Turkmenistan, the runner-up from Group B, on Wednesday, February 24 for a place in the final and a chance to qualify for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

According to AFC official website, Tajik team coach Qodirov said after the game that he was very pleased.  “You can see by the result everything was perfect. The players are now used to the weather and are able to show their best.”  “I set a target before the game of winning the game 2-0, and because we won 3-0, I am very pleased with all my players,” said Qodirov.  “It does not matter who we play in the semi-final, our task has always been to qualify from the group, and we have done that.  We are in Colombo to win the tournament so we have to play the best teams to achieve that goal.”

The final of the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup football tournament will take place on February 27.  The winner will qualify for the Asian Cup 2011.  However, if India successfully defends its 2008 title, the runner-up will qualify instead.  India, the defending champions, will be fielding their under-23 squad for this tournament