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2021 AFC Cup: Who was the star player of the Central Zone?


Bishkek: It was the week where Central Asian football returned to the spotlight, with nine 2021 AFC Cup matches in two cities capturing the imagination of the region.

Ahal FC and FC Nasaf achieved perfect winning records to advance to the Zonal finals, but players from across Central Asia emerged as outstanding contributors in Groups E and F, and we’ve selected six of the best.

With players from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan on the list, study our standout players and vote for your favourite.

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Elman Tagayev (Ahal FC)
2 games, 3 goals

Arguably the outstanding player of Group E, Tagayev already had two goals to his name within 20 minutes of Ahal’s match, putting his side well on the way to their 3-1 win over Ravshan.

But he wasn’t done there; The former Turkmenistan international also bundled home Ahal’s second goal against Dordoi, confirming the club's first ever knockout stage appearance.


Sherzhod Nasrullaev (FC Nasaf)
3 games, 1 goal, 4 assists

The driving force of so many of Nasaf’s attacks over the course of their group stage campaign, mobile left-back Sherzhod Nasrullaev not only covered plenty of ground, but played a significant role in the Uzbek side’s dominance of the Dushanbe-based Group F.

The 22-year-old was directly involved in five out of nine goals, conjuring a goal or assist every 47 minutes he was on the pitch.


Altymyrat Annadurdyyev (Altyn Asyr FC)
3 games, 4 goals

Coming into the tournament off the back of 35 goals in last season’s Yokary Liga, the pressure was on Altyn Asyr’s star man to deliver in Dushanbe, and there could have been few complaints with his return of four goals in three matches.

He was particularly lethal in the tournament opener against Khujand, making the most of two half-chances to bag a double with finishes of the highest quality.


Abai Bokoleev (FC Dordoi)
2 games, 2 goals

Dordoi’s top scorer in the league so far this season, Bokoleev showed his class at AFC Cup level with a starring role in the club’s emphatic 3-0 win over FC Ravshan on Matchday Three.

His first goal was an example of movement and composure, but his second was one of pure quality; cutting inside a defender before picking out the top corner for one of the goals of the tournament so far.


Akmal Mozgovoy (FC Nasaf)
3 games, 1 goal, 1 assist

Any number of Nasaf players could have been included in this list, but the sheer consistency of their 22-year-old central midfielder means he was surely among the most impressive players in the Central Zone.

In addition to his goal and assist against Khujand, Mozgovoy completed more than 70 passes in every match, earning a staggering pass completion rate of 97.5 per cent across the group, while winning the ball back 22 times.


Dilshod Bozorov (FC Khujand)
3 games, 2 goals

Khujand’s tally of four points from three Group F matches wasn't enough to advance to the knockout stage, but there could be no complaints about the contribution of veteran forward Dilshod Bozorov, who scored against Altyn Asyr and Alay.

Both efforts showcased Bozorov’s goal scoring instincts, pouncing twice on spills from goalkeepers to take his tally to five goals in his last five AFC Cup matches.


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