Ravshan clinched their second title beating Khatlon 1-0 in the Dushanbe final. En route to the showpiece, the second-tier outfit overcame Istiklol 4-2 in the quarter-finals, before edging past Regar-TadAZ 1-0 in the semis.
Ehson Panjshanbe gave the visitors a 28th-minute lead, intercepting a sloppy clearance with his chest, hooking it onto his right and firing home. Doubling the deficit, Fatkhullo Boboev arrived in the hosts’ penalty area unmarked to routinely slot into the bottom corner inside 36 minutes.
It took until the second half for the hosts to strike back, Oyatullo Safarov’s looping delivery deceiving the Lions’ keeper to nestle into the back of the net on the hour mark. Their hope of recovery wasn’t long lived, however, as Ehson Panjshanbem picked out the Istiklol skipper Alisher Dhzalilov, who steered in from close range one minute later.
Turkmenistan striker Wahyt Orazsähedow hit Istiklol’s fourth, before Muhammadjon Rakhimov added another, latching onto to A. Dhzalilov’s defence-piercing ball to tuck in. Rustam Soirov added an extra sheen to the scoreline, cruising goalwards unchallenged to make it six.
CSKA Pamir Dushanbe 1-1 Fayzkand
(Gafforov 57; Safarzoda 72)
Shodibek Gafforov glanced in from Muhammadjon Rakhimov’s free-kick, whipped in dangerously from the right, to break the deadlock on 57 minutes. Fakhriddin Safarzoda supplied Fayzkand’s leveller, getting a crucial touch on an inswinging delivery.
Istaravshan 1-2 Khujand
(Barotov 10; Safarov 62, Abdugafforov 78pen)
Mbeke Siebatcheu’s smart ball over the top found Ilhomjon Barotov, whose first-time finish put the Northern Tigers ahead in the 10th minute. As the tie moved into the final third, Manuchehr Safarov headed Khujand’s equaliser, before Oybek Abdugafforov dispatched the winner from the penalty spot on 78 minutes.
Khatlon continue winning run downing weary Khujand on the road
Some thorough tackling and cautious clearances – hurled back and forth – made for a frenetic opening to the match. Khatlon, resplendent in yellow, acted first to take the reins.
A dangerous deliverer of the ball, and keen to pull the trigger from distance, Khatlon’s No66 Naimjon Ibrahimzoda posed a constant threat from the right. Given too much room to cut inside onto his lethal left peg, in the 20th minute, the right back curled in a pinpoint cross to pick out Khudoidod Uzokov. Dropping into the path of the No10, he only had to make a connection to steer in the opener.
Khatlon’s advantage was doubled in the 35th minute – Khujand’s defence still hadn’t learnt their lesson, reacting slowly in shutting down Sorbon Avgonov, as he was allowed to casually bend into the top bin.
Khujand’s front line had been forced to feed off scraps in the first period, but from restart Khatlon were caught napping. Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev broke down the right to whip across the face of goal for Sanjar Rikhsiboev to turn in at the back post, bringing the hosts back into the tie.
Escaping a few moments of unease, Khatlon will thank the safe hands of Ghanaian keeper Quaye Godson, whose sterling shift between the sticks ensured his side kept the upper hand.
Parviz Baki-Akhunov converted the visitors’ third, blasting in off the upright on 72 minutes. And, despite a late resurgence through Dilshod Bozorov’s injury-time tap in, it was too late for Khujand to salvage a point.
Istiklol 2-0 CSKA Pamir
(A.Dzhalilov 18, Boboev 86)
The Lions’ persevere to seal victory
Alisher Dzhalilov broke the deadlock in the 18th minute, capitalising as CSKA failed to clear their lines – the No10 able to take a touch, pick his spot and drill low into the bottom corner.
Penned back for the most part, CSKA struggled to subdue the sharp Istiklol front line. In spite of ample opportunities however, the hosts failed to complete some slick passages of play and increase the deficit until the late arrival of Sheriddin Boboev.
Coming off the bench in the 75th minute, for the second match on the trot, Boboev killed off the tie, as he walloped home Istiklol’s second and high-fived the ball boys with minutes left on the clock.
Lokomotiv-Pamir 1-0 Dushanbe-83
(Ruziev OG 75)
Loko edge unlucky Dushanbe-83 to claim all three points late on
Izatullo Ruziev’s own goal was all that separated the sides at the final whistle. Shakhrom Sulaimonov’s searching 75th-minute free-kick – redirected by the Dushanbe-83 keeper – was inadvertently turned into the visitors’ net by the backtracking centre-half.
Dushanbe-83 had shown early promise, and for the majority of the match, looked the brightest side. Set up with intent, boasting a 4-2-4 formation, they sought to bounce back from the 7-0 mid-week hammering at the hands of Istiklol. Lokomotiv were aiming for their first win of the campaign following a 2-2 season-opener with Fayzkand.
A Dushanbe flurry inside 12 minutes set the tone, and Ismoil Alimardonov’s side-footed effort from the left forced the Loko shot-stopper into action. The Railway Men soon replied however, as Ozodbek Panjiev combined with Shakhrom Sulaimonov on the edge of the area to test the visitors’ custodian.
Relying on counter-attacks to breach a regimented home defence, 83 moved in their numbers, as swarms of sky blue jerseys were quick to both surge forward, and mute Loko’s advances.
From start to finish, causing the home side problems, was Dushanbe-83’s Ghanaian forward unit consisting of Idris Aminu, Agbley Jones and Colins Adukhen. Bursting forwards and chasing back, they battled for every loose ball, pouncing on any whiff of a chance. Their most promising attacking move came as Adukhen’s delivery, sliced in with the outside of his boot, was fired goalwards by Jones, who flung himself airborne to strike on the flying volley.
Nearing the final whistle, with the hosts narrowly leading and Dushanbe still turning the screw, Sulaimonov had the chance to kill the game off for Loko. His in-swinging free-kick though, was tipped onto the woodwork.
The right back put in an outstanding performance in Khatlon’s matchday two victory over Khujand – serving up a pinpoint assist for the opening goal (watch below). Roaming the right channel, the No66 demonstrated terrific technique, shooting from distance and cutting inside to swing in crosses.
In Khatlon’s 2-2 draw Istiklol, Ibrahimzoda’s powerful long-range effort was spilled by the keeper to set up their opening goal. Possessing a dangerous left foot, Ibrahimzoda is destined to be a big hitter in the assist market this season and is likely to find his way onto the scorecard.
Istiklol’s new No9 Wahyt Orazsähedow has scored two goals so far this season.
Starting his career at Russia’s Rubin Kazan, the 28-year-old has since played in Russia, Turkey, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. A Turkmenistan international, Wahyt Orazsähedow has scored five goals in 12 appearances for his nation. Last season, playing in Kyrgyzstan for Dordoi Bishkek, the striker scored 20 in 28, winning the league and the Super Cup.
The 21-year-old has converted in all three of Khatlon’s fixtures this season. Baki-Akhunov broke the deadlock with a poacher’s goal in Khatlon’s 2-2 draw with Istiklol, snatched the equaliser to spark a comeback win against Istaravshan, and flashed in Khatlon’s third against Khujand.
Called upon from the bench in the second half of Regar’s 4-1 victory over Istaravshan on matchday three, Ganiev made quite an impression. The frontman killed off the tie, scoring two from close range including a cheeky dink over the keeper with the outside of his boot. In the starting XI against Khujand on matchday four, Ganiev netted his third of the season.