Substitute Ivan Petkov struck a late equaliser to ensure UEFA Regions' Cup hosts South-East Region AMA of Bulgaria a point in their opening game against Bosnia-Herzegovina's Tuzla Canton AMA.
Admir Hanić had put Tuzla ahead midway through the first half, turning in Mersudin Ahmetović's cross. But Petkov, a late introduction, gave the home fans in Sliven something to shout about and secured a share of the Group A spoils.
Tuzla took the game to the home team from the start. Ahmetović had the first chance on eight minutes when he cut in and shot just wide. Marijan Gajčević and Hanić also came close while, at the other end, South-East Region were limited to long-range efforts. On 20 minutes, Ahmetović's powerful drive was saved by Ivayla Marinov and Hanić contrived to head over after a superb Nedim Huseinbašić cross from the left. However, he did not have long to wait to make amend after Ahmetović sent the ball in from the right.
Šefik Imamović in the Tuzla goal had collided with a team-mate not long before the break and, following the interval, Emir Muratović came on in his stead and seemed assured, especially when dealing with dangerous crosses by right-winger Aleksandar Georgiev. Jordan Harkov prompted a parry from Muratović as South-East Region picked up their game in the last half-hour, though Semir Aljukić, who replaced Ahmetović, went on a fine solo run and was denied by Marinov. The Bulgarian representatives kept pressing despite the evening heat and were rewarded with eight minutes remaining when Petkov turned the ball in. His side will now meet Basse-Normandie AMA on Friday in high spirits, while Tuzla play Northern Ireland's Eastern Region AMA.
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