Domestic Leagues

Central & South Asia Wrap: Alga stake Kyrgyz Premier League claim, Cup surprises in IR Iran and Uzbekistan

Bishkek: FC Alga’s bid for a surprise Kyrgyz Premier League title continues to gather steam, particularly after their main challengers held each other to a draw, while Cup football in Islamic Republic of Iran and Uzbekistan produced surprising results in both countries.

Elsewhere, FC Khujand made the most of FC Istiklol’s absence to surge to the top of the table in Tajikistan, while Bashundhara Kings were dominant as league action returned to Bangladesh.

Join as we bring you all the key news and results from Khujand to Khorramabad.

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Kyrgyz Republic: Alga capitalise as big guns stay deadlocked

The two most successful clubs in recent Kyrgyz Premier League seasons cancelled each other out on Wednesday, further strengthening the league position of one of the nation’s most historic names.

Dordoi and Alay Osh were the former two, playing out a 0-0 draw in their eagerly anticipated clash. It was the third successive draw for title holders Dordoi, who have now won just one of their last five matches and find themselves stuck in third place on 15 points – four behind Alay.

Outperforming both of those big guns are Alga Bishkek - a famous name from Kyrgyz football history - whose unbeaten start to the season continued with a 1-0 win over Neftchi Kochkor-Ata on Tuesday, putting them level with Alay on 19 points but with the benefit of two games in hand.

Alga have the chance to solidify their position even further – and extend Dordoi’s winless run – on Monday, with the clash between the two leading Bishkek clubs set to dominate the week ahead.

IR Iran: Kheybar, Malavan knock out Pro League opponents to reach Cup quarters

With four of the country’s biggest clubs absent due to their AFC Champions League group stage commitments, it was time for some of Iranian football’s lesser lights to shine, and shine they did with two sides from the second tier advancing to the last eight of the Hazfi Cup.

Both of those results occurred on Thursday, with Zakaria Moradi scoring the winner as Malavan eliminated Nassaji Manzandaran 1-0 before Kheybar Khorramabad shocked Sanat Naft Abadan by the same margin, with Bahram Ahmadi scoring the winner.

Elsewhere, Gol Gohar continued their strong season with a 3-0 win over Pars Janoubi Jam, while Sepahan needed extra time to see off second division Khooshe Talaei Saveh with an eventual 2-0 win.

With the country’s AFC Champions League quartet now back on home soil, the league resumes on Friday, with a top of the table clash between Persepolis and Sepahan the pick of the weekend’s matches.

Tajikistan: Khujand power clear as Istiklol return to heroes’ welcome

Runners-up for the last four seasons in a row, FC Khujand are the league leaders after five matches, but it comes with a small caveat – FC Istiklol haven’t played yet.

While the holders have been lighting up the AFC Champions League in Riyadh, Khujand have been handling business back at home, most recently with a 4-0 win over Kuktosh on Friday.

That result took them to 10 points, two ahead of Fayzkand – who didn’t play this week – and three ahead of Istaravshan, who won a dramatic match against Eskhata by a margin of 3-2, in a clash where both sides finished with nine men.

Dushanbe-83 continued AFC Cup-bound Ravshan Kulob’s difficult start to the campaign, with Izzatullo Ruziev scoring twice in a 4-2 win.

Elsewhere, Istiklol arrived in Dushanbe to a welcome befitting royalty after their AFC Champions League heroics, with hundreds of fans turning out to greet the side which finished on top of Group A.

The nine remaining clubs in the top flight might not have been so happy to see the defending champions. They’ll kick off their league campaign against CSKA Pamir Dushanbe on Sunday.

Uzbekistan: Andijan, Kokand-1912 crash out of Uzbekistan Cup

If the Hazfi Cup was characterised by unfancied clubs excelling, the main takeaway from the completed group stage of the Uzbekistan Cup was arguably the failures of two clubs from the Uzbekistan Super League.

FC Andijan were often the focus of the off-season due to their legion of new signings, but they only managed a single point in their three Cup matches, with only a 1-1 draw against lowly Aral Samali preventing them from departing with a broken string of defeats.

Also bundled out early were Kokand-1912, who beat group winners Mashal Mubarak but lost to both Yangiyer and Metallurg Bekabad to have their elimination sealed.

The six group winners and runners-up will be joined in the Round of 16 by the two best third-placed teams, Bunyodkor and Neftchi Fergana, as well as Pakhtakor and AGMK, both of whom didn’t compete in the group stage due to their AFC Champions League commitments.

Bangladesh: Bashundhara hit Baridhara for six in league return

Bangladesh Premier League action returned after the best part of two months, but league leaders Bashundhara Kings looked a team in peak form in their first game back, easing to a thumping 6-0 win over Baridhara.

It was the foreign legion that led the way, with Raul Becerra, Fernandes and Robinho scoring two each to take their side to an exceptional 37 points from 13 games.

Nine points back, in second place, are Sheikh Jamal, who beat Abahani Chittagong 3-1, while third-placed Abahani Limited Dhaka were held to a 2-2 draw by Bangladesh Police.

Three matches are scheduled for Tuesday, with Bashundhara Kings hoping to continue their outstanding form against Police.


Photo: Gol Gohar

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