Scouting the Opponent: Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: One of the World's prettiest flags
When: March 10th, 2012
Kickoff: 9.15 GMT
Where: Halchwok Stadium. Kathmandu, Nepal
FIFA Rank: 166th (32nd in AFC)
Previous Encounters: None
08/03/2012 v. Maldives W 3-1
29/02/2012 v. Dinamo Batumi (Georgia) L 0-2
27/02/2012 v. Concordia Chiajna (Romania) L 0-3
25/02/2012 v. Aktobe (Kazakhstan) L 0-1
29/01/2012 Turkmenistan 1-0 Petrolul (Romania)
27/01/2012 v. Romania L 0-4
26/01/2012 Legia Warsawa (Poland) L 1-4
21/01/2012 v. Khazar Lankaran (Azerbaijan) L 1-3
28/07/2011 v. Indonesia L 3-4
23/07/2011 v. Indonesia D 1-1
Background: The Turkmen were a penalty shootout away from winning the last edition of the Challenge Cup but came up short against World Cup finalists Korea DPR. The Green Men might be the lowest ranked side in the competition but they were on the brink of the third round of World Cup qualifying- falling short by a single goal at the hands of Indonesia (Palestine and Turkmenistan will be tied for 21st in the 2018 World Cup seeding if the AFC votes to retain the current qualification format). Manager Yazguly Hojageldiyev prepared his side for the competition with a month-long training camp in the warm auspices of Anatalya. Results during said training camp were underwhelming and dented talk of Turkmenistan as one of the favorites to lift the trophy. Turkmenistan started off nervously against Maldives but rebounded and finished off the islanders in the second half with minimal fuss. The big decision for Mahmoud will be how to line up his team to guard against the best attack (thusfar) in the Challenge Cup. Mahmoud will most likely revert back to a more proactive style of play- look for Palestine to exploit the Turkmen defence by maintaing possession and pressing for the ball in the opposition's half.
Challenge Cup Squad: The Green Men are without their players currently plying their Trade in Europe. Rubin Kazan's Wahyt Orazsahedow is the most prominent absentee.
Key Player: Arslan Amanov ran his socks off against Maldives and was rewarded with the clinching third goal. Will he and the rest of the Green Men have enough energy to play with same verve remains to be seen.