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Dushanbe: The of AFC U-14 Regional Festival of Football 2015 for the South and Central zone officially opened in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Friday.

The opening ceremony was held at the FC Istiklol Football Academy and attended by Vice Chairman of the Ministry of Youth Nazarzoda Rizashodv, local city officials and officials from the Tajikistan Football Federation (TFF).

The ceremony began with the introduction of the seven participating teams, and a speech by Rizashodv who welcomed all the participants and hoped they would enjoy their stay in Tajikistan.

“I hope you will all achieve success in the festival by working together and I’d like to thank the AFC for the opportunity to organise the event for the first time here.”

Dr Shamil K. Mohammed, the AFC representative, thanked the TFF for the organisation of the event and supporting the development of youth football in South and Central Asia.

“The AFC festival gives an opportunity for players to play football and gain experience through matches, and the same goes to the referees and officials. I also hope that all players will enjoy playing and learning more skills and knowledge about football and develop their personality.”

The participating nations are Afghanistan, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan with the opening match held between hosts Tajikistan and Iran.

A total of 12 matches will be played until May 26 with the festival focusing on development rather than winning. All teams will receive a medal and certificate of participation.