DUSHANBE, August 5, 2008, Asia-Plus  -- Midfielder of Tajik national soccer team Yusuf Rabiyev from Qurghon Teppa’s “Vakhsh”, who fired Tajikistan through to the semi-finals of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Challenge Cup on August 3, netting a hat-trick in a 4-0 demolition of Afghanistan in a Group A clash, with 7 scores tops a group of goal-scorers of the Cup. 

According to the AFC official website, he is followed by Kasun Jayasuria of Sri Lanka in a Group B with six scores.  However, Sri Lanka’s soccer players will go home irrespective of the last game with Nepal.      

Guvanjmukhammed Ovekov from Turkmenistan has four scores.  He scored all the four goals in a 5-0 defeat of Afghanistan.  Turkmen soccer players also failed to qualify for the semi-finals.  

Numonjon Hakimov from Tajikistan, Pak Son from democratic People’s republic of Korea, Jumanu Rai (Nepal), Channa Edirbandanage (Sri Lanka) and Muhammad Kasim (Pakistan) have three scores each.  

The 2008 AFC Challenge Cup football tournament is hosted by India from July 30 to August 10, 2008.  Chinese Taipei was the designated host, but could not guarantee it would meet the AFC’s standards for hosting the tournament.  The winners of the 2008 and 2010 competitions will qualify for the Asian Cup 2011.  This competition is exclusive to the lower ranking Asian nations.  However, India and Bangladesh have again been invited for the 2008 tournament from the middle tier of nations, along with North Korea and Laos.

Tajik soccer players played their first game with Turkmenistan on July 30 -- 0-0.  The second game with hosts that was held on August 1 also ended in a draw – 1-1, and on August 3, they defeated Afghanistan 4-0.  

The AFC Challenge Cup is a national football competition for emerging countries (those in the lowest (of three) categories as designed by the AFC president) that are members of the AFC.  The first tournament was held in 2006 in Bangladesh.