Turkmen Futsal out to shock the favourites
The fortunes of the Turkmenistan Futsal team have recently enjoyed a huge upswing and if things go according to plan, a podium finish at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games being hosted in their capital city of Ashgabat from 17–27 September could well be their crowning glory.
Just three months ago, they defeated World No. 27 Uzbekistan 6-5 in a thriller. It was Turkmenistan’s first triumph over their arch rivals in over 25 years.
That was followed up by a 1-0 win over the world’s 11th ranked team Croatia and a 3-3 draw against Japan, ranked 16, to prove that for a team rated 80th in the world, the good times are surely approaching.
One reason for the team’s recent run of form could be their Japanese coach Kyohei Nakamura, who took charge earlier this year, and he is undrestandably upbeat ahead of Ashgabat 2017.
“I’ve got a great set of players who are very athletic and flexible,” said Nakamura. “In terms of stamina, they are second to none. We also have some of the sharpest and strongest shooters in the game today. The team’s recent results are a testimony to their effectiveness. I’m now working on strengthening their tactics and execution on the pitch.”
Team captain Watan Atayew echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“The team has done really well in recent months. We attended camps in Spain, Japan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan and got very positive results. The recent wins have boosted our confidence. We’re ready for Ashgabat 2017,” he said.
Asyrlyyew Geldimuhammet, who has played as a striker with Turkmen football clubs Kopetdag Asgabat and FC Ahal, is a player who can deliver goals after switching to the indoor version of the game in 2013.
“I played for a long time in some of Turkmenistan’s leading football teams, but I wanted a change and found Futsal to be an interesting challenge,” he said. “It was a totally different sport and I had to teach myself everything from zero again. While it wasn’t easy, I enjoyed the journey.”
Goalkeeper Meretgeldi Bayramow, who has been in the sport for close to 10 years, said he was undergoing special training for the competition at home.
“Being a goalkeeper in Futsal is much tougher than in regular football because the game takes place in a much smaller space. The action happens at breakneck speed and it makes a goalkeeper’s life even more difficult. I’ve been undergoing special training for Ashgabat 2017 for several months now. I’m now ready for the challenge,” he said.
Bayramow said the team are relying on the home support to spur them on to success next month.
“Unlike Football, Futsal matches take place inside closed spaces so the crowd’s noise is amplified . For this very reason, having home support matters a lot. The home crowd will be our extra man in the field. I hope our fans will be out in good numbers to help us progress through the competition,” he said.
Eziz Amangeldiyew, Mulkaman Annagulyyew, Abdy Basimow, Sohrat Bayramow, Dayanc Garajayew, Abdylla Gurbannepesow, Marat Konirow, Rowsen Orazmuhammedow, Gurbangeldi Sahedow, and Maksat Soltanow are the other members of the team.
Futsal will take place over 10 competitive days inside the Multifunctional Sport Venue located just outside of the Ashgabat Olympic Complex, starting on 16 September, the day before the official Opening Ceremony.
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