Bishkek: Dominant FC Istiklol turned on the style with a stunning 11-goal blitz in the Tajikistan Cup, while the Kyrgyz Premier League will resume on Friday after a five-month suspension.
Uzbekistan’s season will soon be back on track after August 14 was set as a new restart date, while the battle for second place intensifies in Islamic Republic of Iran.
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Tajikistan: Istiklol run riot, Khujand crash out of Cup
Tajikistan powerhouse Istiklol made an emphatic return to competitive action on Monday, beating second tier outfit Mohir 11-0 to advance to the quarter-finals,
The prolific Manuchehr Dzhalilov scored four goals, all in the first half, as one of seven Istiklol players to get on the scoresheet in the match, which set up a quarter-final clash against Ravshan Kulob.
While Istiklol’s huge win was far from unexpected, their main domestic rivals, FC Khujand exited the Cup in surprising circumstances, falling to a comprehensive 3-0 defeat against Kuktosh on Saturday.
Kuktosh will face Istaravshan in the last eight, while the youthful Lokomotiv-Pamir will meet Regar-TadAZ after beating Barkchi 2-1 in the Round of 16, with Khatlon and Eskhata also advancing with weekend wins.
Istiklol have been Tajikistan Cup winners in six of the past seven seasons, with the only misstep coming by virtue of a 2-0 defeat against Khujand in the 2017 final.
Kyrgyz Republic: Premier League returns on Friday
The Kyrgyz Premier League will end a five-month hiatus when league action resumes on Friday.
With FC Leader having withdrawn from the competition, eight teams will compete across a double round-robin format, with all matches to be held at a centralised location in the city of Kant, near the capital Bishkek.
The abbreviated 2020 season will be staged behind closed doors, with fans to access the action via live broadcasts.
Meanwhile, the top flight clubs have completed a hectic week of off-field action, with a raft of players changing clubs prior to the Premier League’s transfer deadline.
Edgar Bernhardt’s arrival at FC Dordoi was the headline news – and arguably one of the biggest signings made by a Kyrgyz Premier League club in recent years – but the national team star’s first stint in the domestic game was only one of many significant moves.
Elsewhere, occasional Kyrgyz Republic midfielder Murolim Ahmedov signed for Neftchi Kochkor-Ata after returning from a spell in Bangladesh with Saif SC, while Maksat Alimov – known for being the star player of the national futsal team - sealed his return to the outdoor game by joining start-up club FC Kaganat.
Alimov will be joined by veteran forward and two-time league top scorer Almazbek Mirzaliev. The pair are two of a string of new arrivals at the club, who were forced to release several foreign players, as well as former Tajikistan coach Khakim Fuzaylov, as a result of the long pause in league action.
The deadline for domestic transfers has now passed, although international moves will be permitted until August 10.
In other Premier League news, defending champions Dordoi met FC Ilbirs in a friendly on Saturday, with an Anton Zemlianukhin goal sealing a 1-0 win.
Uzbekistan: Super League sets new return date
The Uzbekistan Super League’s often-interrupted 2020 season is a step closer to resuming, with August 14 confirmed as the new return date, following the competition’s most recent suspension.
Matches throughout August will be held in a centralised format, with Tashkent and its surrounds serving as the base.
The postponed ninth round fixture between Bukhara and Bunyodkor will officially get the league back underway, before a full seven-match 10th round begins on August 17.
Defending champions Pakhtakor – who will meet Kokand 1912 on August 18 – remain atop the league standings, with Mirdjalol Kasimov’s AGMK a point behind in second.
IR Iran: 10-man Esteghlal secure key win
FC Persepolis have already celebrated their title win, but their city rivals Esteghlal took a significant step towards finishing second after leapfrogging Sepahan with a crucial 2-1 win.
Farhad Majidi’s side spent more than half the match at a numerical disadvantage following the 44th-minute sending off of Arash Rezavand, but a Cheick Diabaté penalty and Ali Mosleh’s own goal ensured three priceless points.
Esteghlal were the only side in the top half to win in the latest round of matches, with FC Tractor rising to third after a scoreless draw against Paykan, while Sepahan’s loss saw them drop to fourth.
At the other end of the table, last placed Shahin Bushehr kept their chances of top flight survival alive with a much-needed 2-0 win away to 14th-placed Pars Janoobi Jam, cutting the gap between the two clubs to just four points with three matches remaining.
Photo: FC Istiklol
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