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Central Asia Domestic Wrap: Dordoi’s dream week, Esteghlal up and running


Kuala Lumpur: Dordoi FC completed a hugely successful week in the Kyrgyz Premier League, while Tehran giants Esteghlal FC ended a six-game wait for their first win of the season in Islamic Republic of Iran.

Elsewhere, Tajikistan champions FC Istiklol suffered a first league defeat, while the race to avoid relegation became more perilous for Uzbekistan’s Dinamo Samarkand, who fell to the bottom of the table after yet another defeat.

Join the-AFC.com as we cover all the key results from Istaravshan to Issyk-Kul and beyond.

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Kyrgyz Republic

FC Dordoi appear poised to retain their Kyrgyz Premier League title after a dream week gave them a considerable lead at the top of the table and made their struggles earlier in the season – where they trailed FC Alay Osh by up to eight points – a distant memory.

Two points behind as little as a week ago, Alexander Krestinin’s side now lead Alay by four points while still holding a game in hand after defeating Neftchi Kochkor-Ata 3-0 on Tuesday, then beating city rivals Ilbirs thanks to a single Farkhat Musabekov goal on Friday.

Making Dordoi’s week even better was Alay’s 1-0 defeat to Alga Bishkek on Sunday, with Bakytbek Mamatov’s side falling victim to an early goal from Kairat Izakov to give themselves an unenviable task with only four league matches remaining.

Now unbeaten in their last five matches, Alga’s win helped them leapfrog Neftchi into third, a result which would equal their best finish in the national league since 2012.


Islamic Republic of Iran

At the sixth time of asking, Iranian giants Esteghlal claimed their first win of the new league season, overcoming winless Gol Gahar 2-1 at the Azadi Stadium on Friday.

Former Croatian international Hrvoje Milić put the Tehran side in front in the sixth minute, but the visitors were level thanks to former Esteghlal player Behnam Barzay only five minutes later, with youngster Mehdi Ghaedi scoring the winner four minutes after half-time.

Esteghlal’s win helped them rise to 11th on the table, four places behind fierce rivals and defending champions Persepolis, who suffered a 1-0 loss to 2020 AFC Champions League newcomers Shahr Khodrou.

Sepahan and Tractorsazi remain unbeaten, and still yet to concede a single goal, in the top two positions after collecting wins against Zobahan FC and Pars Janoobi Jam respectively.


Tajikistan

It took six months and 18 matches, but champions-elect FC Istiklol finally suffered a league defeat when they were beaten by third-placed Regar-TadAZ on Saturday.

With the league’s two top scorers Sheriddin Boboev and Alisher Dzhalilov starting on the bench ahead of Tajikistan’s crunch FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers clash against Japan, the Tursunzoda-side took full advantage, with Dilovarsho Ganiev and Sherzod Makhamadiev scoring in a 2-1 win.

Elsewhere, Istaravshan took an important step towards remaining in the top-flight, beating Kuktosh 3-0 in front of 8,000 fans on Saturday to leapfrog the Rudaki side into sixth; one place clear of the relegation play-off.


Uzbekistan

Dinamo Samarkand look to be on borrowed time in the Uzbekistan Super League after falling to a 1-0 loss to Navbahor Namangan on Tuesday; their ninth consecutive league defeat.

After sitting as high as fifth earlier in the campaign, the club’s string of defeats finally saw them drop to the foot of the table after both FC Bukhara and FC Qizilqum Zarafshon picked up points in midweek action.

The trio, along with Andijan, AGMK FC and Kokand 1912 are all candidates to fill the two automatic relegation places with five rounds remaining, with the club that finishes 12th in the 14-team league to meet the third-place finisher from the second-tier in a play-off.

At the other end of the table, dominant FC Pakhtakor extended their lead even further after securing their title two weeks ago, moving 21 points clear with a 3-0 midweek win over Sogdiana.


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Photo: FC Dordoi

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