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Pakhtakor's Huistra gears up for 'three' AFC Champions League finals ahead

Doha: Pakhtakor FC returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Shahr Khodro on Matchday Six of the 2020 AFC Champions League Group B on Wednesday.

Under the guidance of assistant coach Pieter Huistra, the Uzbek champions secured their first win since Matchday Two thanks to a second-half Jaloliddin Masharipov strike to progress as group leaders ahead of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai FC.

Pakhtakor play Islamic Republic of Iran's Esteghlal FC in the Round of 16 on Saturday, in what will be their first AFC Champions League knockout stage appearance in a decade.

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“I am happy with the way the game went. Beforehand we did not know what would happen in the other game, so we were prepared and fired up and willing to give it our all. Even when we found out we had qualified already, we kept going,” said Huistra.

“The players are very disciplined, and they know that for us, the tournament starts now. We consider the group stage as preparation, and now we have three final matches ahead of us that we want to win and show the real quality of our football. We are getting into gear after starting slowly and we will only get better."

Group B - MD6: Shahr Khodro 0-1 Pakhtakor

Huistra took charge for Pakhtakor’s final match of the group stage after head coach Shota Arveladze tested positive for COVID-19.

“Shota was watching from his room and continues to be very involved. We spoke after the match about planning for the next game. Now that we are through to the Round of 16, the pressure is really on. Our qualification is good for Uzbek football and for us.”

For Iran's Shahr Khodro, the dream journey on their AFC Champions League debut ends at the group stage, with no points and no goals, but a string of respectable performances against more experienced sides.

“I would like to thank my players, the staff and the club president. The players have worked really hard in this game despite being really tired in what was a really hard tournament,” said Shahr Khodro coach Mohammad Navazi.

“We signed some new players but they were unable to join us on time for the AFC Champions League, so that had an impact on us. This tournament has been a good experience for us and we promise we will be back in the coming years.

“As a coaching staff we have only been at the club for a short period of time and did not have enough time to work with the players, so we could have done better in terms of taking our chances if we had more time. That is the main reason we could not score goals in the tournament.”

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