AFC: Dushanbe (February 10, 2015) Defender Hasan Rustamov scored the only goal midway through the first half as Tajikistan’s FC Khayr remained in the hunt for a first-ever appearance in the group stage of the AFC Cup after edging out Bangladesh’s Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited 1-0 in Tuesday’s Preliminary Round play-off.
Rustamov turned home after 22 minutes in front of a crowd of 10,000 at Republican Central Stadium for the Tajikistan league runners-up.
And with 2014 AFC President’s Cup group stage winners Sheikh Russel unable to find a response, FC Khayr will face Lebanon’s Salam Zgharta next Tuesday in Beirut for a place in Group A of the AFC Cup.
“I am pleased with tonight’s victory. Many fans came to the stadium and they wanted to see good football and a victory from our team,” said FC Khayr coach Takhirdzhon Muminov.
“We began the match very well, created some chances and scored a goal. Our target was to win this match and continue our way to qualify to the group stage.
“The players showed a good performance. We could have scored more goals, but we didn’t strike the ball cleanly in good situations. Our opponent also gave us a good battle tonight.
“We have another big challenge next week. We’ll go on to work hard in training as the next match may give us a place in the group stage.”
FC Khayr started strongly and after Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Mamum Khan was called into action to deny Mirzobek Mirzoev and Shodibek Gaforov, the home side took the lead after 22 minutes as Rustamov headed home a left wing cross.
The home side remained in control, and despite the best efforts of Sheikh Russel captain Mithun Chowdhury, Jamaican forward Akeem Priestley and Nigerian striker Kingsley Chigozie, FC Khayr held onto their advantage until half-time.
And with the nature of the contest continuing into the second half, FC Khayr sealed the win with Alisher Ulmasov and Gaforov wasting the best chances for the home side to increase their lead after the break.
“We tried to reach victory, but Khayr were stronger tonight. I congratulate this team with this victory and I wish them luck in the next game,” said Sheikh Russel coach Dragan Dukanovic
“We had some problems before the game and we couldn`t solve them. Seven of our main players were called to the national team and they didn`t help us in this match.
“It was also a hard trip to arrive here, it took us 22 hours. This aspect meant my team did not play as expected.”