AFC Cup contenders Istiklol win sixth Tajik League crown

FC Istiklol have been crowned champions of the Tajik League for a fourth consecutive – and sixth overall – time following a 5-0 win over FC Panjshir on Monday.

The emphatic victory was enough to see Istiklol claim an unassailable nine-point lead over second-placed CSKA Pamir Dushanbe.

Remarkably, the champions have three games in hand and could eventually finish the campaign with a much wider margin of victory.

The early completion of their title defence is also a big boost to their continental aspirations as they can now focus all their attention on winning the AFC Cup.

Istiklol are set to face India’s Bengaluru in the inter-zone playoff final over two legs on September 27 and October 18, with the winner advancing to the AFC Cup final.

There, they will meet the winners from the West Zone final currently being contested by Al Wahda and Air Force Club.

Istiklol’s best achievement thus far in the AFC Cup came in 2015 when they reached the final before being narrowly beaten 1-0 by Malaysian outfit Johor Darul Ta’zim.