March 12 (Reuters) - Lowly East Timor kicked off the long and winding road to Russia 2018 by registering their first ever World Cup qualifying win, a 4-1 success over Mongolia in Dili on Thursday.
Striker Chiquito Filipe do Carmo scored the first goals of the three-year qualifying campaign that will see all of FIFA’s 208 members play more than 800 matches to determine which 31 sides will join the hosts at the finals.
The victory was only the fourth the 185th-ranked East Timor achieved since becoming FIFA members in 2005.
Such was the excitement for the fixture in the Portuguese-speaking Southeast Asian nation, that a big screen was erected outside the Municipal Stadium for fans who couldn’t get their hands on one of the 10,000 tickets on sale.
They would have seen their diminutive striker, better known as Quito, strike in the seventh and 10th minutes of Thursday’s home clash before Brazilian-born Rodrigo Silva netted a third in the 89th minute and substitute Neto grabbed a fourth in stoppage time.
Batmonkhiin Erkhembayar grabbed a late consolation for the visitors to give them some slight hope of overturning the deficit in the second leg in Mongolia on Tuesday.
Five other Asian qualifiers are being played on Thursday, with Bhutan, the world’s worst ranked side, taking part in a World Cup campaign for the first time when they face Sri Lanka away.
India host Nepal, Yemen play Pakistan, Cambodia stage Macau while Taiwan and Brunei clash in Kaohsiung.
The six aggregate winners will move into the second round of the Asian World Cup campaign, which doubles as the qualifiers for the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup, where the likes of regional powerhouses Japan, Australia and Iran enter the fold. (Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)