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:
Monday, May 19th (Malé) – Palestine
Wednesday, May 21st (Malé) – Maldives
Friday, May 23rd (Addu City) – Myanmar
You can also check out our Predictions Page to see our projected winners in each match.
Kyrgyzstan is certainly a nation that is not afraid to go out and schedule tough opponents. In 2013 alone, they faced 4 UEFA opponents, managing a draw away to Estonia, and a home draw with Azerbaijan. Despite the tougher competition, the results, and goals, have been very difficult to come by.
To reach the AFC Challenge Cup Finals, Kyrgyzstan blew through Group B of qualification. They were the only team in qualification to finish on 9 points. Playing all 3 matches in the daylight of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan defeated each of their 3 opponents by 1-0. In all 3 matches, the goal was scored by Ghanaian-born David Tetteh. Defeating Tajikistan by that score is fine, but only scoring a single goal on lowly Macau is worrisome.
Before the Tournament
The preparation for the AFC Challenge Cup certainly is not going as planned. A month ago, a goalless draw against Afghanistan in Dubai was the result. And on May 12th, they dropped a 1-0 result to Afghanistan during training camp in Kuwait. Their final preparation match will be on May 16th against Kuwait in Kuwait City. It will be tough to see Kyrgyzstan come away with any points in that one. If they fail to draw blood, they will enter the AFC Challenge Cup with 5 consecutive goalless matches. Not how you want to enter the tournament.
The squad for Kyrgyzstan is basically what you’d expect. A majority of the players are from local teams Dordoi Bishkek, Alay Osh, and Abdish-Ata. Dordoi Bishkek has been champions of the Kyrgyzstan League in 8 of the past 10 seasons. But also officially included in the squad is the man who the team is certainly relying on, David Tetteh. In addition, Ghanaian born Elijah Ari and Cameroonian Claude Maka Kum will be in the side. It appears the African influence in Kyrgyzstan will play a large part in their side.
Kyrgyzstan was knocked out of 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Qualifying by Maldives, so surely they will not have forgotten that result. They qualified for the 2010 edition in Sri Lanka but did not escape the group stage. Their best performance was in the inaugural tournament in 2006, when they finished a spry 3rd. They surely must believe they can equal or better that result with the right form in Maldives.
The team has historically fared well against fellow Group A competition. They’ve defeated and drawn against Palestine in 2 matches. They’ve never played Myanmar in their history, and until the loss in 2012 qualification, they had defeated Maldives in their two prior meetings. Tetteh will surely be looking to channel some of that historic form in the 2014 tournament.
Expect the Kyrgyzstan side to play grind it out football. They don’t score a lot of goals, and it would be foolish to believe they’ll pot 2 or 3 against anyone but Myanmar. It wouldn’t be a shock at all to see the opening match against Palestine end scoreless. In fact, they probably would be quite happy if that’s how it ended. Getting any sort of result in that match will be key to advancing. Dropping any points against Myanmar will surely be the death blow.
Kyrgyzstan’s chances of advancing ultimately should boil down to the match against host Maldives. If either team wins that match, they will advance to the knockout stage. But again, given the low scoring nature of this side, a draw is certainly within the realm of possibility. xCro gives Kyrgyzstan around a 55% chance of surviving the group. It is tough to see them finishing top of the group, but in the famous words of R. Kelly (and our AFC Correspondent), they may only need to bump ‘n’ grind their way into 2nd to keep their title hopes alive.
If Kyrgyzstan sits on 1 or 2 points after two matches, don’t be surprised to see them break out of their shell against Myanmar, knowing they must score as many as possible to advance on goal differential. It should be close.
Projected Group Finish: 3rd