AFCAsian Cup

AFC Challenge Cup Team Previews: Turkmenistan

Ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives, we will be previewing each of the 8 teams that will participate for a chance to reach the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.  Click on the links below to see each team’s preview, once available:



Tuesday, May 20th (Addu City) – Laos 

Thursday, May 22nd (Addu City) – Afghanistan

Saturday, May 24th (Malé) – Philippines

You can also check out our Predictions Page to see our projected winners in each match.


Turkmenistan Team Page



Similar to the Philippines, Turkmenistan had a relatively straightforward qualifying campaign. They simply needed to beat Cambodia by as many goals as possible. That result alone would be enough to qualify. They took care of business 7-0, and despite losing 1-0 to the Philippines, Turkmenistan still advanced to the tournament on goal differential via the second place table.

Turkmenistan has appeared in the past 3 editions of the Challenge Cup, and they’ve fared very well. They’ve been the runner up in the past two tournaments, losing to North Korea both times. Luckily for Turkmenistan, North Korea is not in this tournament, so they must believe that this is their chance to get over the hump and finally get back to the Asian Cup. Turkmenistan’s only continental finals appearance was in 2004. They have not played a single match since last year’s 1-0 qualifying defeat to Philippines, so they are refusing to show their hand until the last possible minute. Currently, Turkmenistan is #137 in our rankings, putting them just behind Afghanistan for tops in Group B.


Before the Tournament

Turkmenistan is keeping much of their preparation under cover. Their local league, the Yokary Liga, will take a break between May 13th and June 2nd. Given that a majority of the national team’s members play club football domestically, this is probably a good idea. It appears that the team will have a formal training camp in Qatar ahead of the tournament. Turkmenistan refuses to play international friendlies, but they are rumored to face Myanmar away on May 9th. It remains to be seen whether that will come to fruition, as this tends to conflict with the training camp information. Also, the Yokary Liga needs to get a website. Finding information is way more difficult than it needs to be.

Prior to the start of the tournament, Turkmenistan decided to make a coaching change. Ousted is Ýazguly Hojageldyýew, who led the team to back to back Challenge Cup finals appearances. Returning for a third stint as manager is Rahym Gurbanmämmedow, who coached the team at various points between 2003 and 2009, including during the 2004 Asian Cup. Perhaps the loser of the Yokary Liga gets to coach the national team. It’s difficult to tell.

The key man to watch for Turkmenistan is Ruslan Mingazow. The midfielder currently plays for Skonto Riga in Latvia’s premier league and came close to transferring to a side in the Russian Premier League this past fall. He was not part of Turkmenistan’s qualifying campaign, but if he is included in the roster, it makes Turkmenistan a significantly more dangerous squad. He scored against Maldives in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup.


The Tournament

Turkmenistan truly refuses to schedule any international friendlies. In the past 3 years, they’ve played a grand total of 1 friendly match, getting clowned 4-0 at Romania. Other than that, they’ve only competed in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup, the 2012 VFF Cup, 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualification, and 2014 World Cup Qualification. Turkmenistan seems to always get close, but not have enough to break through.

Like the Philippines, Turkmenistan seems to do very well against weaker teams, but struggle against more difficult competition. In the previously mentioned competitions, they’ve failed to defeat a team ranked in our top 150. That is yet another thing that will need to change if the team wants to advance to the knockout stage.

Turkmenistan defeated Laos in the 2012 VFF Cup in their only ever meeting. They’ve also dominated Afghanistan historically, winning all 3 matches by a total of 18-0! They have not, however, faced each other since 2008, and this current Afghanistan side is far stronger than they used to be.



Overall it’s tough to get a read on Turkmenistan. They seem to have a lot of potential, but lack focus and the killer instinct when it comes down to winning the big game. They are likely to defeat Laos in the opening match, which should inspire some confidence in the team moving forward. It seems most of the players and coaches are familiar with each other, so the coaching change shouldn’t have a huge effect on the team’s chances.

Our simulator xCRO likes Turkmenistan. We give them around a 70% chance of advancing to the knockout stage. We also give them a little more than 1 in 3 chance of topping the group. The final match against the Philippines may very well be the deciding match for who advances and who goes home. In qualification, we said the final match between the two teams would be the one to watch. Unfortunately that was ruined by Brunei, but we’ll make the same prediction here. That final match is going to be the one to watch in the group stage. It should be a good one.

Projected Group Finish: 2nd



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