Ergashev left to rue what might have been

FC Istiklol coach Mubin Ergashev has bemoaned his side's failure to take their chances in Saturday's AFC Cup final defeat to Johor Darul Ta'zim.

The Tajikistan champions, playing at home in front of a packed Republican Central Stadium, were undone by a Leandro Velazquez goal in the first half, a strike which came after Istiklol had spurned a number of early chances. Striker Dzhalilov Manuchehr had three opportunities to put the hosts ahead before JDT's goal, with his second effort cleared off the line.

Khurshed Mahmudov had the ball in the back of the net as Istiklol thought they had the opener, only for play to be brought back for a foul inside the area just prior to Mahmudov's effort.

Speaking after the match, Ergashev lamented his side's inability to make their chances count.

“Unfortunately we lost the final at home,” said Ergashev. “We tried to give happiness to our fans, but we couldn't win the game.

“We began the match well and created some chances, but if you don’t score you can’t win the match. We had to take our chances.”

He added: “We controlled the game in the first half, but we conceded a goal after a corner kick. We lost attention at that moment. Then we continued to make attacks.

“It’s a pity that we couldn’t score and level the scores. We missed a lot of chances."

However, Ergashev believes that his side will be better for the experience despite the disappointment of falling just short.

"It is a very difficult time for us," he said. "The team had great motivation and I think we have improved this season anyway. I congratulate Johor Darul on the title.

“We will try to participate well in the next season in Asian club competitions and this was a good experience for Istiklol.”

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