Domestic Leagues

Central Asia Wrap: Cup glory for Ravshan, Shaheen Asmayee win title number five


Bishkek: With silverware lifted in three countries over the weekend, and another trophy up for grabs this coming Thursday, it’s the business end of the Central Asian football season.

In one of the year’s busiest weeks, Ravshan Kulob pull off a superb Tajikistan Cup win, major honours decided in Afghanistan, Kyrgyz Republic’s men’s and women’s cups reach their dénouement, plus all the latest from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

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Tajikistan: Ravshan pull off Cup triumph

Ravshan Kulob are the Tajikistan Cup winners for 2020, lifting the title for the first time since 1994 with a hard-fought 1-0 win over FC Khatlon on Sunday.

The club - from the second tier Tajikistan First League - won the dedider thanks to a second-half penalty from Daler Shomurodov, completing a fairytale cup run which included a stunning 4-2 quarter-final over the country’s dominant club, Istiklol.

The cup win is the latest success story in a brilliant season for Ravshan, who sit top of the First League table, and have already sealed their place in the top flight of Tajikistan football for 2021.

Ravshan were Tajikistan’s champion club in 2012 and 2013 before suffering relegation from the top division in 2016.


Afghanistan: Shaheen Asmayee, Herat win Afghanistan finals

Shaheen Asmayee won the final of the Afghan Premier League, while Herat were crowned Afghanistan’s women’s champions in Kabul on Friday.

Shaheen claimed their fifth title in eight years thanks to a 1-0 win over Simogh Alborz, with Afghanistan international Fardin Hakimi scoring the decisive goal in a close final.

Kabul-based Shaheen went unbeaten throughout the competition, winning four and drawing one of their five matches, while Simogh Alborz are still looking for their first title having fallen short in the decider on three occasions since the league began in 2012.

Earlier, Herat claimed the Afghan Women’s Premier League crown, defeating Kabul 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Herat’s goalscorer in the final, Fateme Heidari, announced herself as one of the competition’s standouts, winning the top scorer award with a haul of 13 goals during the three-week tournament.


Kyrgyz Republic: Abdysh-Ata and Alay book Cup final tickets

The 2020 Kyrgyz Republic Cup final will be contested by Abdysh-Ata Kant and Alay Osh on Thursday, after both clubs emerged from Monday’s semi-finals with narrow wins.

Abdysh-Ata will return to the decider for the first time since they lifted the trophy in 2015 after they beat FC Alga 1-0 thanks to a goal from breakout teenage star Maksat Alygulov.

The other semi-final went down to the wire, with Alay eliminating defending champions Neftchi Kochkor-Ata on penalties after a 1-1 draw, setting the scene for the first final between Abdysh-Ata and Alay since 2009.

Held in a shortened, centralised format in Kant, the 2020 Kyrgyz Republic Cup featured all Kyrgyz Premier League clubs except for FC Dordoi, who became national champions for the 12th time earlier this month.


Kyrgyz Republic: Azalia-Sdyushor Si taste Kyrgyz Women’s Cup glory

Bishkek’s Azalia-Sdyushor Si became 2020 Kyrgyz Women’s Cup winners on Sunday, defeating Karakol 4-2 in a goal-laden final.

Azalia-Sdyoshor Si emerged victorious having been defeated by Karakol during the group stage, with tournament MVP Tatiana Kaznacheeva scoring twice in the decider.

Chuy region outfit Nitro finished the tournament as bronze medalists after beating Toktogul 6-1 in the play-off for third. The 2020 Kyrgyz Women’s Cup featured eight teams from around the country.


Uzbekistan: Pakhtakor make winning return

Defending champions FC Pakhakor made fairly light work of their first Uzbekistan Super League clash in over a month, beating Qizilqum Zarafshon 3-1 on Monday night.

With AFC Champions League and international commitments keeping their players busy since early September, Shota Arveladze’s side took just 17 minutes to get back into the swing of things with Eren Derdiyok’s goal, but an Oybek Kilichev leveller made things interesting before second half goals from Player of the Match Farrukh Sayfiev and Anzur Ismailov settled the match.

Earlier in the weekend, Pakhtakor had been temporarily overtaken by AGMK, who moved to 42 points in 19 matches with a 2-0 victory over Mashal, but despite the Almalyk club’s temporary rise, Pakhtakor finished the weekend two points clear, and with two games in hand as the title race enters its final stages.

Beyond the top two, much of the attention was focused on a Tashkent derby between Lokomotiv and Bunyodkor, with Lokomotiv running out 2-1 winners.

In virtual freefall earlier in the campaign, Lokomotiv have significantly improved under new boss Andrey Miklyaev, earning 13 points in six matches since his appointment to find themselves a respectable seventh on the league table.


Turkmenistan: Annadurdiyev at the double as Altyn Asyr stay clear

Red-hot Altymurad Annadurdiyev continued his stunning individual season, bagging both goals as Altyn Asyr remained clear on top of Turkmenistan’s Yokary Liga with a 2-0 win over Energetik on Sunday.

The national team star has now found the net 20 times in 19 league rounds, eight more than Ahal’s Elman Tagayev, who sits second on the goalscoring chart.

As impressive as the 27-year-old’s campaign has been, he remains some way short of the league record, with Sergei Kazankov and Rejepmurad Agabaev finding the back of the net on 41 occasions in 1992 and 1995 respectively.

Annadurdiyev’s latest contribution maintained Altyn Asyr’s seven-point lead over Ahal, for whom Tagayev found the net in a 2-0 win over Koetdag, although Ahal does hold a game in hand on the leaders.

Altyn Asyr still have nine matches remaining in their 2020 league campaign. The Ashgabat club are chasing a history-making seventh successive league title.


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Photo: Tajikistan Football Federation

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