Tajikistan wrestles with football fever after Asian Cup exploits

Tajikistan, known for traditional wrestling, surprises in football’s Asian Cup.


Tajikistan’s national sport is traditional wrestling but the poorest country in the former Soviet Union is now just two wins away from football’s Asian Cup final.


The Central Asian nation are making their debut in the tournament and coach Petar Segrt said there were “no lim­its” after beating the United Arab Emirates on penalties in the last 16.


On Friday in Qatar they face Jordan in the quarter-fi­nals, something few outside the world’s 106th-ranked team ex­pected before the competition began.


Alovidin Buriev, a commen­tator for Tajikistan’s TV Varzish and who has reported on football for over 35 years, said the players were “already heroes”.


“Until this Asian Cup, we didn’t have stars. Now all our players are stars,” he told AFP in Doha. — AFP