Mubin Erhasghev made a couple of changes of which one was a forced change as Nurmatov Khuseyn was suspended for his red card offense. Along with Nurmatov, Saidov Karomatullo made way for Safarov Oyatullo and Zabirov Abdulmumin.
Khaled Abdullah Mohammed made sweeping changes to his squad with only defender Naif Almas retained in the playing eleven from their game against China.
Group D: Saudi Arabia defeat Tajikistan 3-1
(KSA: Safi Alzaqarta 65’, 70’, Faraj Al-Ghashayan 73’; TJK: Sheriddin Boboev 29’)
The Green Falcons began with a 4-4-2 formation in their group encounter with Tajikistan at the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship on Friday. With Abdulmohsen Al-Qahtani taking a forward role and Salem Al Saleem playing as the distributor while Hazim Al-Zahrani supported the left wing, it changed into a 3-3-1-3 style. Dominating a greater share of 73% of the ball possession, they won 65% of the aerial duels. With 583 passes to their credit, their passing accuracy was outstanding at 82%. Six off their 15 attempts on goal found the target.
Tajikistan shifted to a 3-2-4-1 style from a 4-1-4-1 opening formation as Barotov Alisher moved on to a midfield role. The Tajik strikers were unable to find the mark, hitting only a couple of shots on target of their ten total attempts.
Saudi Arabia had their first opportunity in the fourth minute of the game when Makhir Al-Rashidi’s header went flying past the left goal post. Tajik goalkeeper Shohrukh Qirghizboev executed a couple of early saves to deny the threatening pair of Al Zaqarta and Abdulmohsen Al Qahtani.
In the 14th minute, Shohrukh Qirghizboev came up with an excellent diving save to deny Abdulmohsen Al-Qahtani’s left-footed shot from Salem Al Saleem’s assist. Safi Alzaqarta fired his shot past the crossbar after being pressed hard by defender Hanonov Vahdat, following a mistake by Qirghizboev.
The Persian Lions' first attempt came through a perfectly-threaded cross by Safarov Manucher following a set-piece which was headed over the bar by Mabatshoev Shervoni. Safarov Manucher followed it up with a rasping drive which grazed over the top left corner.
Tajikistan broke the deadlock in the 28th minute after a sublime cross from Panshanbe Ehsoni found Sheriddin Boboev ghosting behind his backmarker at the far post to score an easy header.
Qirghizboev came up with yet another telling save to deny Hamed Al Ghamdi's well-struck half-volley, following which a strike by Abdulmohsen Al-Qahtani grazed over the top of the bar in the 55th minute.
A thunder-bolt strike by Solehov Sharafjon in the 63rd minute was pushed out by Nawaf Al Ghamdi over the bar. The Green Falcons scored the equalizer in the 65th minute following an elegant strike by Safi Alzaqarta after a mistake by Tajik's Safarov Oyatullo.
The Saudis scored a quick second, following a scrappy pass from Hamed Alghamdi found Al-Ahli striker Safi Alzaqarta, who slotted home the ball with his left foot.
Saudi Arabia sealed the game in the 72nd minute after an outstanding volley from Al-Nassr’s Faraj Al-Ghashayan caught Shohrukh Qirghizboev flush on the face before ricocheting off the post and knocked the head of the Qirghizboev for a second time before clattering into the goal. Salem Al Saleem delivered the assist.
Safarov Manucher came up with a scorching drive from 35 yards out, which settled into the safe hands of Nawaf Al Ghamdi. An inviting cross from Ibrogimzoda Naimdzhon was well-connected by Mirzoev Sultonshoh before a lunging drive from Saudi defense denied a second for Tajikistan.
Saudi Arabia along with Japan were the only teams to claim victories in all their group matches. Tajikistan qualified for the quarter-finals, despite their defeat, by finishing in second place in Group D.
Group D Standings: Saudi Arabia 9 points, Tajikistan 4, China 3, Malaysia 1.
Quarter-Finals Line-up: Qatar vs Thailand; South Korea vs Tajikistan; Japan vs Indonesia; Saudi Arabia vs Australia.