Dushanbe: Reigning Tajikistan Football League champions FC Istiklol may have made a dream start to their domestic title defence, but a large part of their focus remains on their suspended AFC Cup campaign, according to head coach Vitaliy Levchenko.
An opening-day 7-0 win over Dushanbe-83 was duly followed by a 2-0 win over CSKA Dushanbe on Sunday, as Tajikistan’s most successful side – and one packed with national team stars - took their first steps towards a potential seventh successive league title.
But while the league is the only game in town at the moment – and one of only a handful of active leagues anywhere in the world – the prospect of success at the continental level hasn’t left the mind of Istiklol’s chief tactician.
Central Asia Domestic Wrap: Istiklol on song, Khatlon pull off upset
Bishkek: Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol reaffirmed their reputation as the best team in Central Asia’s only active league, bagging nine goals in their first two league matches to race to the top of the league table.
As one of the only active leagues in world football, action both on and off the pitch has attracted a surge of international interest in the Tajik title race, while Turkmenistan’s Yokary Liga will return next Sunday.
Join the-AFC.com for all the key news and results from Tursunzoda to Turkmenabat
Cahill: Sport can play a vital role in repairing hearts and minds
Sydney - By Tim Cahill, Qatar 2022 SC Global Ambassador
: The world is in a very uncertain place right now. We don’t know how much longer the current situation is going to last, whether it will get worse before it gets better, or what things will look like when it’s over. I want to start by acknowledging that people are all hurting in different ways, and some more than others. There are physical, mental and economic impacts being felt all over the world.
Sport has been front and centre in my life since I was old enough to kick a ball with my brothers and sister in the backyard, but something like this really puts things into perspective. It’s just not that important right now. People are unwell, scared and stressed, and many have lost loved ones. Kicking a ball doesn’t really register next to the life-changing circumstances that so many are experiencing.
But although now is the time for sport to take a back seat, I want to try and think forward to when this is over. Whether that’s six weeks, six months, or longer, I think that sport is going to be one of the most important tools we have to help people feel normal again. I don’t think that it will just be professional sport, although it will definitely have a role. I believe grassroots sport is going to be equally important in reuniting communities once the threat of coronavirus has passed.
Communities in Asia continue to benefit from AFC MAs' social responsibility initiatives
Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s Member Associations as well as the football leagues in Asia continue to do their part through various initiatives to help communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF), the Guam Football Association (GFA), the J.LEAGUE and the Wuhan Football Association have helped by giving donations, promoting public awareness messages and opening training centres to house medical teams.
Kuala Lumpur: With much of the Continental game on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the-AFC.com continues our series, The Story Behind, where we delve deeper to reveal some of Asian football's fascinating flavour.
Tale of two winners: Al Hilal 2019 v Al Ittihad 2004-05
Kuala Lumpur: Two Saudi Arabian sides, two continental champions, two history makers. Al Ittihad and Al Hilal SFC are the only teams from the Kingdom to conquer the AFC Champions League.
Al Ittihad set a new standard for dominance, remaining the only team to win back-to-back AFC Champions League titles in 2004 and 2005, while Al Hilal’s persistence saw them overcome years of frustration to finally lift the trophy in 2019. the-AFC.com compares Saudi Arabia’s last two continental champions.
Kuala Lumpur: Goals, goals and more goals as the-AFC.com's '5 of the Best' series returns with another compilation of wondrous strikes from the Continent's premier club competition.
Over the past few weeks, we have highlighted some of the finest acrobatic goals, solo goals and volleys as we look back on the moments that have got fans out of their seats. The latest edition of '5 of the Best' showcases stunning strikes from distance, so stand by for some screamers!