Tajikistan Higher League 2020: season round-up

Match Reports, News, Tajikistan Higher League

Istiklol win ninth title, Regar-tadAZ relegated for the first time.

Istiklol lifted their ninth Tajikistan Higher League trophy in a campaign described by coach Vitaliy Levchenko as “intense and productive”. Propelled by the 7-0 drubbing of top tier debutants Dushanbe-83 in the season opener, the Lions went unbeaten for 15 games until a shock defeat to CSKA in September.

At the other end of the table, winning just three matches, Regar-TadAZ were relegated to the first division for the first time in the club’s history. A top-tier contender since the league’s conception in 1992 – lifting the trophy seven times between 2001-2008 – the Tursunzoda outfit drop down, having accumulated a mere 12 points.

Top scorer: Ilkhom Barotov

With 18 goals, Istaravshan captain Ilkhom Barotov finished league top scorer. Trailing behind Istiklol’s Manuchehr Dzhalilov – who finished on 16 – for most of the season, his five goals in the gameweek 17 thrashing of Fayzkand, clinched it for the 30-year-old. The midfielder became the first non Istiklol player for ten years to earn the title, and the first Istaravshan player since Zokir Berdikulov in 1995.

Ilkhom Barotov

What’s next?

Champions Istiklol will face Tajikistan Cup winners Ravshan in the 2021 Super Cup. The season curtain raiser is set for a week prior to the 2021 campaign opener. Istiklol have automatically qualified for the AFC Champions League group stage, and runners-up Khujand go into the play-offs. 

Istiklol: form, results, goals

Form Guide, News, Tajikistan Higher League

We take a closer look at the Tajikistan league leaders’ form, results and top scorers.


Results (most recent first)

Istiklol 4-0 Khujand
Istiklol 3-0 Fayzkand
Lokomotiv 0-3 Istiklol
Istiklol 1-0 Lokomotiv
Fayzkand 0-4 Istiklol
Khujand 1-3 Istiklol
Istiklol 8-0 Istaravshan
Regar-TadAZ 1-6 Istiklol
Istiklol 6-1 Kuktosh 
Istiklol 2-2 Khatlon
Istiklol 2-0 CSKA Pamir
Dushanbe-83 0-7 Istiklol

Top scorers

13 Manuchekhr Dzhalilov
11 Alisher Dzhalilov
6 Sheriddin Boboev
6 Rustam Soirov
4 Wahyt Orazsähedow


1 Manuchekhr Dzhalilov (Dushanbe-83 0-7 Istiklol)
1 Rustam Soirov (Istiklol 6-1 Kuktosh)

The season so far: form, standings, results, top scorers

Form Guide, News, Tajikistan Higher League

Nine rounds into the Tajikistan Higher League, we take a look at the state of play.

Winning four games by at least a five-goal margin, Istiklol’s unbeaten run has seen them tighten their grip at the top. CSKA have overturned a rocky start; finding their feet in gameweek five, and top-tier newcomers Dushanbe-83 have exceeded expectations and sit mid-table. Istiklol’s Dzhalilov brothers have dominated the scoring; Manuchekhr on 10 and Alisher on 8.

League table

The Tajikistan football league's season so far: form, standings, results, top scorers

Form guide

CSKA Pamir Dushanbe: WWDWDLWLL
Dushanbe-83: LDWWLWDLL
Istaravshan: LDWLLLLLL
Lokomotiv Pamir: LLLLLLLWD


Top scorers

10 Manuchekhr Dzhalilov (Istiklol)
8 Alisher Dzhalilov (Istiklol)
8 lhomjon Barotov (Istaravshan)
6 Sheriddin Boboev (Istiklol)
6 Rustam Soirov (Istiklol)
5 Parviz Baki-Akhunov (Khatlon)
5 Dilshod Bozorov (Khujand)
5 Khudoidod Uzokov (Khatlon)
4 Shodibek Gafforov (CSKA)
4 Wahyt Orazsähedow (Istiklol)
4 Shodibek Gafforov (CSKA)


Tajikistan Higher League: gameweek 8

Match Reports, News, Tajikistan Higher League

4th-5th July 2020
Tajikistan Higher League
Gameweek 8

Fayzkand 0-4 Istiklol

(M. Dzhalilov, Boboev 24, A. Dzhalilov 29 43)

Highlights: Fayzkand 0-4 Istiklol

Lokomotiv 0-2 Khujand

(Bozorov 3, Chakalov 62)

Highlights: Lokomotiv 0-2 Khujand

Dushanbe-83 3-3 Istaravshan

(Rashidbekov 27, Abdulloev 39, Rashidbekov 60; Barotov 17pen, Khomidov 23, Barotov 83) 

Highlights: Dushanbe-83 3-3 Istaravshan

CSKA 3-1 Regar-TadAZ

(Vosiev 28,  Mabatshoev 45 + 2 89; Bobodjonov 79)

Khatlon 2-1 Kuktosh

(Uzokov 25, Ismoilov 86; Sultonov 89) 

Tajikistan Higher League: gameweek 7

Match Reports, News, Tajikistan Higher League

27th-28th June 2020
Tajikistan Higher League
Gameweek 7

Khujand 1-3 Istiklol

(Rikhsiboev 3; M. Dzhalilov, A. Dzhalilov 77, Orazsähedow 90+1)

Manuchekhr Dzhalilov bundled in from a corner to cancel out Sanjar Rikhsiboev’s unexpected third-minute opener. Istiklol eventually gained control of the tie on 77 minutes, when Alisher Dzhalilov’s floated cross-cum-shot deceived the Khujand custodian to give Istiklol the lead. There was no let up for the hosts as the Lions continued to attack, Wahyt Orazsähedow driving into the bottom corner in injury time to remain at the league’s pinnacle.

Regar-TadAZ 1-2 Dunshanbe-83

(Ruziev 88 og; Jones, 45 + 1, Aminu 69)

With a minute of first-half stoppage time remaining, Agbley Jones fired home as the Regar defence were suckered in by Elchibek Rashidbekov’s enterprising run. Idris Aminu doubled for Dushanbe, striking low to cap a storming run from deep. Despite a late slip up when Izatullo Ruziev turned into his own net, Dushanbe-83 held on to claim their second consecutive win. 

Istaravshan 2-0 Lokomotiv Pamir

(Barotov 53 90+1)

Khatlon 1-1 Fayzkand

(Baki-Akhunov 69; Baratov 59)

Kuktosh 0-0 CSKA

Tajikistan Higher League: gameweek 7 highlights

Tajikistan Higher League: gameweek 6

Match Reports, Tajikistan Higher League

20th-21st June 2020
Tajikistan Higher League
Gameweek 6

Istiklol 8-0 Istaravshan

(Boboev 14, Larin 16, A. Dzhalilov 50 90, Soirov 77, Orazsähedow 78, M. Dzhalilov 85, Panshanbe 88)

Torn apart by Istiklol, Istaravshan’s woes deepen

As Istaravshan failed to clear their lines, Sherriddin Boboev finished off Iskandar Dzhalilov’s marauding run from the right, guiding in with the outside of his boot inside 14 minutes. Ukainian Oleksiy Larin doubled Istiklol’s lead minutes later, bending in directly from a corner. Larin pounced as the visitors attempted to play out from the back, intercepting a wayward pass to tee up Alisher Dzhalilov who struck first time to make it 3-0. Rustam Soirov capped off a slick Istiklol combination to claim their fourth, and Wahyt Orazsähedow turned in number five. There was no let up for Istaravshan, as Manuchekhr Dzhalilov slotted in from a tight angle, Ehson Panjshanbe curled in from distance and A. Dzhalilov thumped in his second to round off a resounding victory. 

Highlights: Istiklol 8-0 Istaravshan

Lokomotiv Pamir 1-2 Regar-TadAZ

(Khasanov 79; Akhemdov 2, Ergashev 6)

Loko’s losing streak continues

Yokubjon Akhmedov rose highest to glance in Regar’s opener inside two minutes. Dorobjon Ergashev made it 2-0 on six minutes, allowed to connect with an inswinging corner unmarked. Hakin Khasanov sparked Loko’s resurgence, lifting over the keeper in the 79th minute, but it was too little too late for the hosts.

Highlights: Lokomotiv Pamir 1-2 Regar-TadAZ

Fayzkand 0-3 Khujand

(Bozorov 5 63, Safarov 90+3)

Dushanbe-83 2-1 Kuktosh

(Rashidbekov 71, Aminu 88; Daler 38)

CSKA 2-1 Khatlon

(Gaforov 19, Kalandarov B. 34; Baki-Akhunov 13)

Tajikistan football: everything you need to know four weeks in

News, Tajikistan Higher League

The Tajikistan Higher League returns on Tuesday 16 June 2020 – here’s a rundown of everything you need to know from the competition’s first four weeks.

The league standings
Istiklol currently top the table, but only narrowly, as Khatlon are hot on their heals in second place on goal difference. Bottom of the table, struggling Istaravshan are yet to collect a point, losing all four of their matches this season.

Manuchekhr Dzhalilov scores for Istiklol

Who is the top goalscorer?
Istiklol’s Manuchekhr Dzhalilov has already netted seven league goals this season. A hat-trick – which included an acrobatic flying volley – on gameweek one, and two on both gameweek three and four.

The 29-year-old striker has returned to Istiklol having failed to make his mark in Indonesia with stints at Sriwijaya and Persebaya. That’s good news for Istiklol fans, no less. The 29-year-old striker played for the club between 2015-17, scoring 59 goals in 47 appearances.

Highest scoring games
So far, two games have finished with a seven-goal scoreline – both Istiklol victories (6-1 against Kuktosh, 0-7 against Dushanbe-83).

Istiklol 6-1 Kuktosh (gameweek four: 25th April 2020)
(M. Dzhalilov 15 65, Soirov 61 83 90+3, Rahimov 68; Nazarov 81)

Dushanbe-83 0-7 Istiklol (gameweek one: 8th April 2020)
(Orazsakhedov 25, M.Dzhalilov 31 46 64, A.Dzhalilov 60, Boboev 80 90)

Khatlon’s Khudoidod Uzokov

Best individual performances
Three hat-tricks have been scored so far this season. Manuchekhr Dzhalilov registered the first in Istiklol’s demolition of Dushanbe-83 in their season opener. Istiklol’s 17-year-old Rustam Soirov hit three on gameweek four’s romp over Kuktosh. In the same gameweek, Khatlon’s Khudoidod Uzokov took home the match ball in their 3-2 victory away to Lokomotiv Pamir.

Which team should you support? Find out more.

Tajikistan football league: which team should I support?

News, Tajikistan Higher League

Wondering which Tajik team you should pledge allegiance to? Here’s the lowdown.

We have put together this handy guide to help you decide which Tajik team you are going to get behind this season.

The firm favourites and rank outsiders

Istiklol’s Manuchekhr Dzhalilov celebrates

Champions for the past six seasons, Istiklol could be the club for the glory hunters among us. Going by their successful start to the season, yet to lose, they are strong favourites to hoist the cup once more.

Comparing his team to Barcelona, club captain Alisher Dzhalilov describes Istiklol’s playing style as “attractive, well-orchestrated”.

Before Istiklol’s reign at the top, Regar-TadAZ held the title between 2001 and 2008 – with the exception of 2005, when they finished runners-up to Khatlon. Since the turn of the century, Khatlon also claimed the title in 2009, between the reigns of the league’s two major 21st-century forces. Starting the 2020/21 season strongly, they have been dubbed Tajikistan’s “own Leicester” by Spanish newspaper Diario AS.

Also considering themselves contenders are Khujand who, for three seasons on the trot, have finished runners-up. This season’s underdogs come in the shape of top tier debutants Fayzkand Vose and Dushanbe-83, who finished second and third, respectively, in the second division last year to earn promotion. 


Who are your team’s Tajik counterparts?

The familiarity of a team’s kit, badge or nickname might play a part in your choice.

Dushanbe-83 don their take on the classic Argentina look, with a slightly bolder shade of blue, which may also appeal to Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton and Hove Albion enthusiasts. Khujand’s first strip of a blue shirt, blue shorts and white socks brings Chelsea to mind, and CSKA Pamir’s all-red garb evokes Premier league frontrunners Liverpool. Istaravshan’s yellow and black colour scheme might win over those who back Watford or the Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund.

Istaravshan’s badge

In the badge department, Istaravshan’s crest, reminiscent of Leeds United’s between 1984-1998, may sway a few decisions. Fayzkand’s ball-gripping eagle boasts similarities to south London’s Crystal Palace, and Kuktosh’s white horse could be an omen for followers of English League One’s Ipswich Town and Gillingham.

Supporters of La Liga’s Athletic Bilbao might find themselves drawn towards nickname-sharers Istiklol, who also go by ‘the Lions’. Likewise, fans of English Championship side Millwall will be eager to keep singing: 

Kuktosh’s badge

“As the Lions run on the pitch,
Everyone will sing, 
Let ’em come, Let ’em come, Let ’em come, 
Let ’em all come down to The Den, 
Let ’em come, Let ’em come, Let ’em come, 
We’ll only have to beat ’em again,
We’re the best team in London Tajikistan.”

Still undecided? Check out the teams’ profiles below.

CSKA Pamir Dushanbe

Based: Dushanbe (capital city)
Kit colour: red
Best performance: winners x2 (1992, 1995)
One to watch: Shodibek Gafforov
For fans of: Liverpool

CSKA Pamir Dushanbe


Based: Dushanbe (capital city)
Kit colour: blue and white striped shirt, black shorts
Best performance: debutants 2020
Ones to watch: Elchibek Rashidbekov, Agbley Jones
For fans of: Brighton & Hove Albion, Sheffield Wednesday, Argentina

Did you know? Newly-promoted 83 have a strong Ghanaian influence. Among their ranks they boast five players hailing from the West African nation: Silvanus Evans (GK), Sadiq Musa (DF), Colins Adukhen (MF), Idris Aminu (FW), Agbley Jones (FW).



Based: Istaravshan (north)
Nickname: The Northern Tigers
Kit colour: yellow and black
Best performance: 2nd (1995)
One to watch Bakhtovar Zokirov
For fans of: Leeds United, Watford



Based: Dushanbe (capital city)
Nickname: The Lions
Kit colour: red and black
Best performance: winners x8 (most recently 2019)
Ones to watch: Sheriddin Boboev (2019 top scorer), Manuchekhr Dzhalilov, Alisher Dzhalilov
For fans of: Manchester United, Barcelona

Did you know? The Lions won the domestic Tajikistan treble in 2019 – claiming the league title, the league cup and the Super Cup.

Alisher Dzhalilov, Istiklol captain: “You can compare Istiklol with Real Madrid or Barcelona, who also dominate in their league with attractive, well-orchestrated football.”


Fayzkand Vose

Based: Vose (south-west)
Kitcolour: red
Best performance: debutants 2020
Ones to watch: Mukhsin Maduloev, Navruz Rustamov, Dalerjon Tukhtasanov
For fans of: Crystal Palace



Based: Qurghonteppa (south-west)
Kit colour: yellow
Best performance: winners x3 (1997, 2005, 2009)
One to watch: Karomatullo Saidov 
For fans of: Borussia Dortmund

Spanish newspaper Diario AS: “Tajikistan already has its own Leicester.”



Based: Khujand (north)
Nickname: The Pitmen
Kit colour: blue and white
Best performance: runners-up (2019)
Ones to watch: Tursunali Rustamov, Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev, Sanjar Rikhsiboev
For fans of: Chelsea

Did you know? The Pitmen played and won their first football game 4-1 in 1925 “on a dry and empty field” against opposition from the northern area of Jabbor Rasulov.



Based: Kuktosh (west)
Kit colour: yellow and blue
Best performance: 3rd (2018)
One to watch: Muhiddin Odilov
For fans of: Ipswich Town, Gillingham, Oxford Town, Sweden


Lokomotiv Pamir

Based: Dushanbe (capital city)
Nickname: The Railway Men
Kit colour: white and blue
Best performance: 10th (2000)
One to watch: Rustam Soirov
For fans of: Tottenham, Preston North End

Lokomotiv Pamir


Based: Tursunzoda (west)
Kit colour: red and white
Best performance: winners x7 (most recently 2008)
One to watch: Sherzod Makhamadiev
For fans of: Arsenal

Did you know? The club was established under the name Metallurg in 1975 by workers of the local aluminium industry. The western Tajikistan outfit have won the continental AFC President’s Cup three times: 2005, 2008 and 2009.


Tajikstan Higher League: gameweek 4

Match Reports, Tajikistan Higher League

25th-26th April 2020
Tajikistan Higher League
Gameweek 4

Istiklol 6-1 Kuktosh 

(M. Dzhalilov 15 65, Soirov 61 83 90+3, Rahimov 68; Nazarov 81)

Istiklol claim 200th league win in second-half demolition of Kuktosh

Kuktosh sought to expose an Istiklol side that had scraped a 2-2 draw with Khatlon on home soil a week prior. Early high pressing from the visitors however, resulted in an abundance of space for the Lions to move in and out of, as the build up to Alisher Dzhalilov’s miscued overhead kick inside three minutes, had proven. 

Alisher Dzhalilov latched onto a long ball over the top to set up Manuchekhr Dzhalilov who neatly tucked in on 15 minutes, to open the scoring. A slim 1-0 advantage at the interval, it wasn’t until the hour mark that Istiklol clicked into gear. M. Dzhalilov’s through ball cleaved apart the Kuktosh backline for Rustam Soirov to turn in and double their lead. 

Five minutes later, M.Dzhalilov steered his second of the day into the bottom corner. Moments later, Muhammad Rahimov claimed their fourth as the ball found a way in through the legs of the keeper. Kholmurod Nazarov jabbed in for Kuktosh on 81 minutes, but Istiklol struck back immediately, as Soirov found a way through a huddle of red shirts to make it 5-1.

Soirov swept in for his hat-trick as the Lions tore through the dishevelled visitors at speed to make it 6-1 in stoppage time.

Highlights: Istiklol 6-1 Kuktosh

Fayzkand 2-1 Istaravshan 

(Kurbanov 61, Murovov 67; Kodirov 45)

Fayzkand comeback to edge nine-man Istaravshan

Dushanbe-83 2-1 CSKA Pamir Dushanbe

(Fayzulloev 8 84; Bobiev 88)

Highlights: Dushanbe-83 2-1 CSKA Pamir Dushanbe

Khujand 2-1 Regar-TadAZ

(Rikhsiboev 24, Bozorov 42; Ganiev 22)

Lokomotiv Pamir 2-3 Khatlon

(Khasanov 59, Sulaymonov 82; Uzokov 30 38 67)

Highlights: Lokomotiv Pamir 2-3 Khatlon

Tajikistan Higher League: gameweek 3

Match Reports, News, Tajikistan Higher League

18th-22nd April 2020
Tajikistan Higher League
Gameweek 3

Kuktosh 1-1 Khujand

(Rasulov 41; Saidkhodzha 57)

Kuktosh and Khujand share the spoils as the hosts continue their unbeaten run

Kuktosh took the lead in the 41st minute though Hikmatullo Rasulov. Khujand were slow to react as a quickly-taken corner from the left was rolled into Rasulov. All the time in the world, he takes a few touches to nudge it closer, picks his spot and whips it into the top corner.

The visitors levelled early in the second half with a well-worked move. Laid into Mukhammadsharifi Saidkhodzha on the right flank, he shakes off his man by cutting back and squares across the penalty area. Sanjar Rihksiboev dummies, leaping over his pass, allowing it to fall into the tracks of Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev who wallops it home. 

Deep into stoppage time, Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev had the chance to snatch all three points for Khujand. But his free-kick, struck side-footed from the edge of the penalty area, was denied by Kurbonali Boboev, who lept high to tip it to safety. 

Highlights: Kuktosh 1-1 Khujand

Istiklol 2-2 Khatlon

(M. Dzhalilov 59 90+5; Baki-Akhunov 9, Sharipov 45)

Istiklol’s Manuchekhr Dzhalilov

Dzhalilov levels from the penalty spot in late drama against ten-man Khatlon

Umarjon Sharipov’s 80th-minute dismissal had left Khatlon defending their 2-1 lead against a Istiklol side who had dominated the second half. 

In stoppage time though, Manuchekhr Dzhalilov made no mistakes as he dispatched from the penalty spot to level the scoring and clinch a point for Istiklol. 

Khatlon had taken the lead inside nine minutes. Hussein Nurmatov’s shrewdly taken free-kick was switched cross-field to Naimjon Ibrahimzoda, and the right back launched goalwards from distance. Spilled by the Istiklol custodian, Parviz Baki-Akhunov reacted quickest to turn it in.

The Lions equalised just after the half-hour mark, as the visitors failed to deal with Alisher Dzhalilov’s devilish inswinging corner. An attempted headed clearance fell conveniently for Manuchekhr Dzhalilov at the back post, who guided in.

Putting the visitors in front going in at the break, a botched Istiklol clearance was pounced upon by Khatlon captain Umarjon Sharipov. Weaving in and out of the red jerseys, finding a passage through to goal, he placed it clinically into the bottom corner, just before the half-time whistle.

In a wave of second-half Istiklol attacks, Manuchekhr Dzhalilov’s superbly struck 59th-minute free-kick had the keeper beaten as it crashed off the woodwork, before the No63 found himself through on goal again, this time to be denied by Kuaye Godson’s outstretched limb. Called into action moments later, Khalton’s Godson got low to smother Istiklol defender Zoir Juraboev’s glanced effort.

Khatlon were forced to battle through the final ten minutes with ten men, and in the dying stages of game saw their hard work undone as Manuchekhr Dzhalilov’s spot kick ensured the sides shared the spoils. 

Highlights: Istiklol 2-2 Khatlon

CSKA Pamir Dushanbe 3-1 Lokomotiv Pamir

(Gafforov 6, Vasiev 30, Zoirov 50; Ibragimov 79)

Highlights: CSKA Pamir Dushanbe 3-1 Lokomotiv Pamir

Regar-TadAZ 4-1 Istaravshan

Dilovarsho Ganiev celebrates scoring for Regar-TadAZ

(Makhamadiev 1 51, Ganiev 59 67; Barotov 37)

Makhamadiev and Ganiev at the double as hosts hit four to claim first victory in style

Off to a flying start, Sherzod Makhamadiev skipped past the onrushing Istaravshan keeper to coolly slot home and give Regar the lead inside the first minute of play. 

Istaravshan soon found their feet, nevertheless, as Cameroonian Mbeke Deudone conjured up several decent opportunities. His best, a long-range effort tipped over the woodwork.

The visitors struck back on 37 minutes through Ilhomjon Barotov. Receiving it on the edge of the area, Barotov swivelled before bending it beyond the sprawling keeper to level.

Having clawed their way back into tie, Istaravshan had gained some momentum. But as the second half kicked off, that soon unravelled as Regar once again took charge. Makhamadiev fired the hosts back in front in the 51st minute, as he arrived inside the penalty area undetected. 

Throughout the fixture, Istaravshan had struggled to cope with Regar’s pace on the right flank, particularly the jet-heeled Khodzhiakbar Uzokov. The No17, who had zipped through the sluggish yellow back line to spark the opening goal, helped deepen the visitors woes, yet again. 

Drawing out yellow shirts in their numbers, he ventured into Istaravshan territory. Cutting inside, he squared to Dilovarsho Ganiev, whose fine strike soared into the back of the net to make it 3-1.

Ganiev struck again in the 67th minute, hitting Regar’s fourth, as Istaravshan attempted to play out from the back. Pouncing on a loose ball, a cheeky dink with the outside of his boot floated over the keeper to put an extra sheen on the scoreline. 

Highlights: Regar-TadAZ 4-1 Istaravshan

Dushanbe-83 0-0 Fayzkand

Highlights: Dushanbe-83 0-0 Fayzkand