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
Istiklol: WWWWWWDWW
Fayzkand: LLDLDWDWD
Khatlon: LWDLWWDWW
Khujand: WWLWWWDLW
Kuktosh: WLDLWLDWD
Lokomotiv Pamir: LLLLLLLWD
Regar-TadAZ: WLLWLLWLD

Results

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)

CLICK HERE FOR MATCH REPORTS AND HIGHLIGHTS.

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 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 Higher League: gameweek 5

Match Reports, News

16th-17th June 2020
Tajikistan Higher League
Gameweek 5

Regar-TadAZ 1-6 Istiklol

(Safarov 60; Panjshanbe 28, Boboev 36, A .Dhzalilov 61, Orazsähedow 76, Rakhimov 78, Soirov 87)

The Lions keep league top spot with Regar romp

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.

Highlights: Regar-TadAZ 1-6 Istiklol

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.

Highlights: CSKA Pamir Dushanbe 1-1 Fayzkand

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.

Highlights: Istaravshan 1-2 Khujand

Kuktosh 1-0 Lokomotiv Pamir

(Abdugafforov 35)

Khatlon 1-0 Dushanbe-83

(Sharipov 70)

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. 

Dushanbe-83

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

Dushanbe-83

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).

Dushanbe-83

Istaravshan

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

Istaravshan

Istiklol

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.”

Istiklol

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

Fayzkand

Khatlon

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.”

Khatlon

Khujand

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.

Khujand

Kuktosh

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

Kuktosh

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

Regar-TadAZ

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.

Regar-TadAZ

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

Tajikistan Higher League: gameweek 1

Match Reports, News, Tajikistan Higher League

5th-8th April 2020
Tajikistan Higher League
Gameweek 1

Dushanbe-83 0-7 Istiklol

(Orazsakhedov 25, M.Dzhalilov 31, 46, 64, A.Dzhalilov 60, Boboev 80, 90)

Manuchekhr Dzhalilov takes home the match ball in Istiklol’s seven-goal romp over newly-promoted Dushanbe-83.

Dushanbe-83, who finished third in the Tajik second tier last season, got off to a good start. Ghanaian speedster Agbley Jones knocking on the door straight off the bat.  However, it wasn’t long before 2019 treble-winners Istiklol cranked it up a notch, and the game sparked into life. Breaking the deadlock in the 18th minute, Ehson Panjshanbe pinged into Turkmenistani No9 Wahyt Orazsähedow, to steer over the onrushing keeper. Five minutes later, Manuchekhr Dzhalilov’s acrobatic volley put the visitors 2-0 up. 

CSKA’s Alisher Ergashev and Istiklol’s Ehson Panjshanbe trudged down the tunnel just before half-time in a double dismissal stemming from, what appeared to be, an accidental trip. Within seconds of the restart, Dzhalilov reacted quickest to glance in his second and the Lions’ third. Alisha Dzhalilov curled in a superb free-kick from distance, before M. Dzhalilov’s low blast confirmed his hat-trick. Sheriddin Boboev tucked in their sixth and seventh. 

Highlights: Dushanbe-83 0-7 Istiklol

CSKA Pamir 1-3 Khujand

(Gaforov 76; Sidorov 45, Beknazarov 63, Ahmadov 90)

Khujand get their season off to a great start downing ten-man CSKA. 

CSKA started brightly, popping it about at the back and pressing high with three-men up top. In the hope of breaching the hosts’ sturdy backline, deep-lying Khujand had resorted to thumping speculative long balls upfield.

Against the run of play, lofty Uzbeki marksman Andrey Sidorov’s powerful header broke the deadlock just before the half-time whistle. Growing in confidence, on 63 minutes Khurshed Beknazarov doubled Khujand’s advantage as CSKA failed to clear their lines.

A second yellow saw CSKA’s Firuz Bobiev dismissed on 67 minutes, though the hosts pulled one back in the 76th minute, Shodibek Gafforov getting his head to a loose ball in a goal-mouth scramble. Sidorov went close again, meeting a cross mid-air to side-foot over, but Manouchehr Ahmadov finally killed off CSKA, converting a penalty late in the day.

Highlights: CSKA Pamir 1-3 Khujand

Lokomotiv Pamir 2-2 Fayzkand

(Sulaymonov 54, Zaripov 73; Rustamov 48, Khasanov 70)

All four goals came in the second half – including Shakhrom Sulaimonov’s edge-of-the-box belter – as the top tier newcomers clashed in an entertaining draw in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe. A youthful Lokomotiv Pamir side came from behind twice, pulling level for a second time in the 73rd minute, as Azizdzhon Zaripov pounced on a loose ball to dink in and secure the visitors one point.

Tajikistan Higher League highlights: Lokomotiv Pamir 2-2 Fayzkand

Khatlon 2-1 Istaravshan

(Baki-Akhunov 53, Boboev 90+4pen; Barotov 10)

Ehson Boboev dispatched a stoppage time spot kick for Khatlon to clinch a 2-1 opening-game victory over Istaravshan. Ilkhomdzon Barotov struck first, inside 10 minutes, putting the vistors in front. However, three-time league winners (1997, 2005, 2009) Khatlon rallied to claim a last-gasp win.

Kuktosh 0-0 Regar-TadAZ

Meanwhile in Rudaki, this year’s Tajikistan Federation Cup winners Kutkosh were held to goalless draw.

Tajikistan Federal Cup 2020 highlights: Kuktosh 2-1 Ravshan Kulob

2020 Tajik Super Cup: Istiklol 2-1 Khujand

Match Reports, News

Lions hit late double to clinch third consecutive Tajik Super Cup

Trailing in the second minute, in a dramatic turnaround, the Lions fought back in Dushanbe to sink Khujand, striking twice inside two minutes deep into the second half, to etch their name on the trophy for a ninth time.

It was a dream start for 2019’s Tajik top tier runners-up Khujand, going ahead through Sanjar Rikhsiboev in the second minute of play. A measured ball cleaved apart title-holders Istiklol’s back line, leaving Rikhsiboev only the onrushing Rustam Yatimov to beat, and he did, coolly slotting home.

The Lions immediately hit back, the Khujand custodian Mamur Ikramov being called straight into action, batting away in the fourth minute.

Tajik Super Cup 2020 highlights: Istiklol 2-1 Khujand

Spritely from the get-go, on-loan Uzbeki international Rikhsiboev could have doubled their advantage with a string of early opportunities. An effort pinged in at the near post was denied by the firm hand of Isiklol’s keeper, before a wasted opportunity in the 18th minute was dragged wide, and a lack of composure saw another chance sail over the woodwork moments later.

Set up deep, the Lions struggled with Khujand’s pace on the counter. Time after time, the likes of Bakhtiyor Choriyev and Abdulmumin Zabirov were able to tear through the middle of the park, opening up the unsettled Tajikistan treble-winners all too easily. 

Khujand’s Khurshed Beknazarov closes in on Istiklol’s Ehson Panjshanbe

The Sprawling Ikramov later pulled off a terrific save to keep out a fine Sheriddin Boboev effort, hurling himself low to parry left-handed to safety, protecting their 1-0 lead at half-time. Midway through the end-to-end affair, however, the game was still very much available for the taking. 

Between the Khujand sticks, Ikramov came into his own as the clash progressed. His brave aerial challenges, picking the ball out of the air, had kept the Lions at bay. 

With a plan up his sleeve, Istiklol coach Vitaliy Levchenko looked to crank up his side’s attacking intensity before the tie moved into its final third. Midfielder Muhammadjon Rakhimov and Turkmenistan marksman Wahyt Orazsähedow, the coach’s first changes, before Rustam Soirov entered the fray. 

The impact of the change in personnel was evident as Istiklol’s Boboev was hauled down, as he advanced into the blue penalty area. Ehson Panjshanbe lined up the free-kick but failing to get it up and over the three-man wall, it was sent spinning out of play.

But, on 77 minutes, disaster struck for Khujand, who were holding on against the Tajik treble winners. Khurshed Beknazarov’s headed clearance landed only as far as Istiklol forward Manuchekhr Dzhalilov – two-time scorer as the Lions downed Khujand in the AFC Cup clash in March – who took a touch before striking on the turn to level the tie. 

Substitute Muhammadjon Rakhimov (left) celebrates scoring the winning goal in the Tajik Super Cup 2020

Moments later, shaken and out of shape, to deepen Khujand’s woes, an upfield punt landed perfectly for substitute Rakhimov, who muscled off his marker and, with an outstretched leg, poked over the keeper to put his side ahead.

Despite a late surge from the blues and for all of Ikramov’s heroics in the Khujand goal, in a dramatic turnaround, Rakhimov’s winner clinched Istiklol’s ninth Tajik Super Cup title. 

Man of the Match: Manuchehr Dzhalilov

Istiklol 2-1 Khujand
(Sanjar Rixsiboev 2; M.Dzhalilov 77, Rakhimov 78)

Pamir Stadium, Dushanbe
Saturday 4th April 2020

Previous Tajik Super Cup winners
2010: Istiklol
2011: Istiklol
2012: Istiklol
2013: Ravshan Kulob
2014: Istiklol
2015: Istiklol
2016: Istiklol
2017: Khosilot Farkhor
2018: Istiklol
2019: Istiklol
2020: Istiklol

Who is CSKA’s Dilshod Vasiev?

Player profiles, Tajikistan Higher League

Dilshod Vasiev scored his first goal of the season in the 3-1 win against Lokomotiv Pamir on matchday three. The Tajikistan veteran – 50 international caps – played his football at Khujand last season, recording a six-goal tally in 20 matches. The 32-year-old signed for CSKA Pamir in March 2020.

Highlights: CSKA Pamir Dushanbe 3-1 Lokomotiv Pamir