Tajikistan return to world stage with win over African champions
Tajikistan edge Cameroon in first match at tournament for 12 years
African champions undone by second-half Sharifbek Rahmatov penalty
Tajiks boast early lead in Group E after draw between Argentina and Spain
Tajikistan outlasted Cameroon to win their opening match at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™ thanks to a lone second-half penalty from Sharifbek Rahmatov in Vitoria on Monday. It was a perfect way to start for the Central Asians in their first match on the world stage since 2007, while the west Africans were left licking their wounds on their return after a 16-year absence.
Tajikistan showed some resolute defending and strong organisation to survive an early onslaught from a Cameroon side who dominated goalscoring opportunities. The Tajiks, who relied largely on counter-attacks, took the lead as Rahmatov converted from the penalty spot six minutes after the interval following a foul from Cameroon goalkeeper Manfred Ekoi. Tajikistan, having had a goal chalked off after a VAR review, were then reduced to ten men when Shuhrat Elmurodov was dismissed for a second cautionable offence with just under 20 minutes remaining.
Cameroon started brightly forcing impressive goalkeeper Shohrukh Qirghizboev into a fantastic early save and then crashing a shot against the frame of the goal. But after falling behind, the Africans were guilty of some wild passing and poor options in the attacking third. They now have little scope for error with further Group E matches against Argentina and Spain.
Group F [[flag-esp-xs]] Spain-Tajikistan [[flag-tjk-xs]] (Vitoria/Cariacica, 17:00 local time) [[flag-cmr-xs]] Cameroon-Argentina [[flag-arg-xs]] (Vitoria/Cariacica, 20:00 local time)
The starting line ups of Tajikistan and Cameroon
VITORIA, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 28: The starting line ups of Tajikistan and Cameroon before the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 group E match between Tajikistan and Cameroon at EstÃ¡dio KlÃ©ber Andrade on October 28, 2019 in Vitoria, Brazil. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Thomas Libiih of Cameroon looks on
VITORIA, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 28: Thomas Libiih of Cameroon looks on before the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 group E match between Tajikistan and Cameroon at EstÃ¡dio KlÃ©ber Andrade on October 28, 2019 in Vitoria, Brazil. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)