* FC Istiklol score two in each half for a massive 4-0 win over Pahang
* Istiklol skipper Vasiev Dilshod leads the way with a brace
The writing was on the wall even before Pahang trooped into the Republic Central Stadium in Dushanbe for their first-leg AFC Cup quarter-final match against Tijikistan’s FC Istiklol on Wednesday.
The homesters carved out a 4-0 win for a huge boost for the second-leg at Kuantan’s Darul Makmur Stadium on Sept 16.
For Pahang it is an uphill task in the Asian meet and with the Malaysia Cup set to kickoff on Sept 11 it will be another tight schedule for the Elephants.
By the time AFC Cup semi-finalists are decided it looks like Malaysia will once again have no representative in the Asian tournament as Johor Darul Takzim (JDT), the Malaysian Super League, also face a daunting task after a 1-1 draw against Hong Kong’s South China in the first-leg at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru on Tuesday.
Blame it on the FA of Malaysia (FAM) competitions committee for the crammed M-League fixtures – playing seven matches in a month. Even a team with a big squad like JDT and have the luxury of rotating their players found the going tough against South China.
Pahang headed straight to Dushanbe after their 3-1 defeat to Terengganu in Kuala Terengganu on Aug 22 – a defeat which cost them the Super League title. The East Coast side have a much smaller squad than JDT and made worse with injuries, found it tough against FC Istiklol.
FC Istiklol skipper Vasiev Dilshod scored a brace to lead his team to an impressive win and give their 15,000 fans plenty to cheer.
Dilshod scored Istiklol’s second in the 35th minute and completed the rout with his second in the 77th minute – firing home an unstoppable shot past Pahang’s reserve keeper Nasril Nourdin,
Nasril, a former Perak player conceded his first in the 35th minute when defender Mahdi Chahjooei sent a grounder under his body and Pahang crumbled after this. A minute later Nasril had to pick the ball up again from inside his net when Dilshod’s attempt deflected off Zesh Rehman.
Midfielder Makhmudoiv Khurshed made it 3-0 with a powerful drive from the top of the box on 51 minutes before Vasiev rounded up a glorious night for the team.
Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan could only cut a forlorn figure on the sidelines on a night when the Elephants simply had no answer to FC Istiklol’s dominance in every department – thanks to football fatigue and tiredness.
It is time the FAM show some professionalism in drawing up match fixtures and put an end to the numerous breaks the teams had to undergo this season. It certainly killed the rhythm and momentum of the teams.
AFC CUP FIRST-LEG QUARTER-FINAL (Aug 26)
FC ISTIKLOL (Tajikistan) 4 PAHANG (Malaysia) 0