MANILA – The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup has not been a "lucky tournament" for Turkmenistan, says Coach Rahim Kurbanmamedov after his team failed to make it out of the group round of the competition.
The Philippine Azkals whipped Turkmenistan, 2-0, in their crucial group match last Saturday, dooming the two-time runners-up to a third-place finish in Group B.
The Azkals topped the group, while Afghanistan secured the other semi-final spot.
"I would like to congratulate the Philippines," Kurbanmamedov said, as quoted by the AFC website, after the game.
Kurbanmamedov's players had their chances in the opening half, including a penalty by Aleksandr Boliyan that was spectacularly saved by PH goal-keeper Roland Muller.
"In the first half, my players did everything we told them to," Kurbanmamedov said. "But in the second half, they made many mistakes."
Turkmenistan paid for their mistakes in the second half, when Phil Younghusband converted a penalty to put the Azkals ahead. Later, Patrick Reichelt secured the victory with a stunning volley off a Martin Steuble cross.
"If we had scored the penalty, we could have changed our strategy," Kurbanmamedov lamented. "Therefore, in the second half, we had to play attacking football."
"This is not a lucky tournament for us," he admitted.
Turkmenistan had a bright start to the Challenge Cup, crushing Laos, 5-1. But they were beaten by Afghanistan, 3-1, and then lost to the Azkals in their last game of the group round.