DUSHANBE, March 19, Asia-Plus -- Tajikistan took a step closer to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup 2014 finals as three second-half goals saw the inaugural tournament champions defeat Macau 3-0 in their second match of the Group B qualifiers.

According to AFC’s website, Tajikistan went into Tuesday’s clash at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium looking to build on Sunday’s opening win over Pakistan but Macau, who were edged 1-0 by hosts Kyrgyzstan in their qualifying curtain-raiser, kept the Central Asians at bay for the first-half.

But Macau’s resistance was finally broken ten minutes after the interval through Jamshed Ismoilov, who grabbed his second and Tajikistan’s third two minutes into second-half stoppage time after fellow midfielder Jahongir Ergashev had given the Tajik’s some breathing space by doubling his side’s advantage in the 82nd minute.

The defeat ended Macau’s slim hopes of progression to the tournament proper while Tajikistan, champions in 2006 following their 4-0 win over Bangladesh in the first-ever final, remain firmly in the hunt for fifth successive appearance in the AFC Challenge Cup finals.

The top team in each of the five qualifying groups and the two best second-placed sides will join hosts Maldives, with Myanmar, Afghanistan and Palestine having already booked their tickets after finishing top of qualifying groups A, C and D respectively.

Group E, which features the Philippines, Turkmenistan, Cambodia and Brunei, kicks-off on March 22.