Domestic Leagues

Central and South Asia Wrap: Sepahan climb, Mumbai City edge clear, Istiklol's flying start

Bishkek: They say it’s lonely at the top, but high-flying teams had plenty of company in their failure to stamp their authority on league tables throughout Central and South Asia over the last week.

In this week's wrap; Sepahan make the most of upset results in IR Iran, while ATK Mohun fail to capitalise on an opportunity to peg back Mumbai City, plus the latest from Tajikistan and Bangladesh.

Just for all the latest news and results from Dushanbe to Dhaka.

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IR Iran: Tehran giants suffer defeats as Sepahan pounce

Sepahan were the big movers in the Iran Pro League, rising to second after securing three points on the road against high-flying Sanat Naft Abadan with a 2-1 win.

That result means only goal difference separates Sepahan from Esteghlal, who remain league leaders despite slipping to a 1-0 defeat against Saipa on Sunday.

Much further adrift are defending champions Persepolis, whose stuttering league campaign continued with a 2-1 defeat to Aluminium Arak, who are now level with Yahya Golmohammadi’s side on points, albeit having played two extra matches.

Persepolis’ defeat was their first all season in the league, but their record of three wins and six draws from 10 matches means they remain in ninth place, seven points behind the top two.

India: ATK Mohun Bagan’s loss is Mumbai City’s gain

They may only be a point further ahead than they were two days ago, but Mumbai City must be feeling as good as ever about their chances of topping the Indian Super League table.

It looked like Sergio Lobera’s side would be the ones rueing a missed opportunity when they squandered a lead in a 1-1 draw with Chennaiyin, but they were done a favour by NorthEast United 24 hours later, when Federico Gallego scored with 10 minutes remaining to seal a 2-1 win against ATK Mohun Bagan.

Mumbai, with 30 points from their 13 matches, sit a comfortable six points clear of ATK Mohun Bagan, with both clubs chasing the top position which would give them a path to the 2022 AFC Champions League.

North East were the only club in the league to win both of their matches over the last week, moving to 18 points and keeping them well in the hunt for a place in the play-offs.

Meanwhile, Churchill Brothers are the pacesetters in the I-League, building a four-point lead at the top of the table after back-to-back wins over Punjab and Sudeva Delhi.

Beyond the leaders, there is a severe logjam of teams from second to ninth, with just two points separating eight of the clubs in the 11-team league

Tajikistan: Istiklol pile on five as FFT Cup kicks off

A new season is upon us in Tajikistan, but there are signs that things may follow a familiar path as the country’s standout club, FC istiklol, got their campaign underway with a 5-0 FFT Cup win over Vahdat.

The defending league champions got the traditional curtain-raising tournament started in style, scoring four goals in the opening half-hour of the Group B clash, two of which were provided by Muhammadjon Rakhimov.

The prolific Manuchehr Dzhalilov also got on the scoresheet for Istiklol, who will make history when they become the first club from Tajikistan to be drawn in the AFC Champions League group stage on Wednesday.

In other results. Barkchi defeated Dushanbe-83 2-1 in the other Group B match, while Regar-TadAZ eased to a 4-1 win over Shohmansur in Group A, which also featured a goalless draw between Kuktosh Rudaki and CSKA Dushanbe.

Kuktosh lifted the FFT Cup in 2020, defeating Ravshan in the final after Istiklol withdrew due to their continental commitments.

Bangladesh: Bashundhara, Abahani prevail in early skirmishes

Bashundhara Kings and Abahani Limited Dhaka sit at the top of the pile three matches into the Bangladesh Premier League campaign, both winning all three of their respective matches.

While few matches anywhere in the league have been one-sided, the top two kept the points coming with single-goal victories. Bashundhara defeating winless Brothers Union, while Abahani saw off Rahmatganj MFS.

So hard-fought was the entire Round 3 schedule that not one of the 12 teams in action scored multiple goals, with five of the six matches finishing 1-0, and Sheikh Russel’s 1-1 draw with Mohammedan the sole exception.

Sheikh Jamal, who weren’t in action in Round 3, are the other team with a perfect record in the league. They’ll face Arambagh on Wednesday, while Bashundhara will look to make it four wins in a row against Rahmatbanj.

Photo: Sepahan FC

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