2021 Tajikistan football league: season preview

The 2021 Tajikistan Higher League starts on 4 April 2021. We look at the contenders’ pedigree, history and stats.

Champions Istiklol will be on a mission to capture their tenth title in 2021. Despite winning 15 games last season, skipper and talisman Alisher Dzhalilov has laid out the Lions’ “one task” and that is “to perform even better” in 2021.

Istiklol line up in the 2021 TFF Cup

Istiklol will, however, be wary of title-challengers Khujand, who have finished runners-up in the last four seasons. Their newly-appointed coach Rustam Khojaev has stated he is “determined to win every game”.

Promoted Ravshan have previous experience in the top flight, lifting the trophy in 2012 and 2013, but haven’t featured in Tajikistan’s elite division since 2016. Khatlon, who placed mid-table last season, also enjoyed success in 2009.

CSKA have participated in every Higher League season since 2000, and aiming to better their debut seasons in the top tier, finishing six and seventh respectively, are FC Dushanbe and Fayzkand. Eskhata embark on their maiden top-tier campaign.

Find out more about 2021’s contenders here.

What happened in 2020?

Istiklol won their ninth Tajikistan Higher League trophy. The Lions went unbeaten for 15 games until a shock defeat to CSKA in September. Ten points adrift from the summit, Khujand finished runners-up.

Regar-TadAZ won just three matches and were relegated for the first time in the club’s history, having accumulated just 12 points. Joining them, Lokomotiv also dropped down following a disappointing season. Istaravshan’s Ilkhom Barotov was the season’s top scorer with 18 goals.

Read the 2020 season round-up.

Tajikistan Higher League 2020 final table

Find out which players to look out for in 2021.

Khatlon’s Khudoidod Uzokov