Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Uzbekistan: Bunyodkor as good as seal fourth straight title

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on August 22, 2011

Uzbekistan flagBunyodkor (17 played, 45 points) took a huge step towards a fourth successive Uzbek championship title on Sunday when defeating arch rivals and nearest challengers Pakhtakor 2-1. The win took the league leaders a massive nine points of Pakhtakor with just nine matches to play.

With over an hour of the game played it seemed a real possibility that the earlier goalless score line in the first meeting of the two Tashkent rivals this season would be replicated. However Bunyodkor finally broke the deadlock after 70 minutes when Viktor Karpenko shot from long range and the shot proved too hot to handle for visiting keeper Timur Juraev. The lead was doubled just two minutes later when Serbian forward Miloš Trifunović tucked the ball home to give Bunyodkor the cushion they needed to approach the end of the game. Pakhtakor did pull one back through Alisher Azizov’s header in the last minute of the game but it proved a mere consolation for the visitors.

The win should help Bunyodkor secure the 2011 Oliy League title whilst Pakhtakor will now have to fight it out for the second AFC Champions League spot along with third place Nasaf Qarshi whose 1-0 away win at Metallurg Bekabad leaves them just two points further behind. Nasaf, who knocked Bunyodkor out of the Uzbek Cup semi-finals last week, have never made it to the AFC Champions League and are determined to make it into next year’s tournament. Their league meeting on October 13th at home to Pakhtakor could tell us whether they will have the legs to go all the way this time around.

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Uzbekistan: Three-in-a-row for Bunyodkor

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on November 2, 2010
FC Bunyodkor

FC Bunyodkor have dominated Uzbek football in the last three seasons

Another season is over in Uzbekistan and that now familiar feeling of FC Bunyodkor lifting silverware is here. Having secured a third consecutive league championship and, with it, a 2010 season double when lifting the Uzbek Cup earlier this year football fans in Uzbekistan are starting to ask: who can stop them next year?

It hasn’t always been this way for Bunyodkor. For many years, when they were called PFC Kuruvchi, FC Bunyodkor had to endure the torment of seeing their arch-rivals Pakhtakor Tashkent dominate the championship. In particular from 2002-07 Pakhtakor won six consecutive league and cup doubles and it seemed that their dominance wouldn’t be challenged for a long time.

Since gaining wealthy ownership in recent years FC Bunyodkor have most certainly upped their profile on the international stage by gaining the services of Rivaldo on the pitch and Zico and “Big Phil” Scolari in the dug out and it is this sort of advantage that has allowed Bunyodkor to work their way into such a powerful position in Uzbek football. In a similar fashion to teams such as Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova and BATE Borisov in Belarus, Bunyodkor have challenged the old guard within their domestic league and have now usurped all of their rivals to come out and stay on top. They have won the last three league titles and the only blemish suffered in an otherwise perfect three year spell for Bunyodkor on the domestic stage was their 2009 Uzbek Cup final defeat to Pakhatakor.

Bunyodkor may not have won the 2010 Oily League championship in as dominant a fashion as they did in 2009 but then it was always going to be difficult to equal or better the 22 point margin they enjoyed last season. This time around Bunyodkor had to be content with a ‘mere’ eight point gap between themselves and Pakhtakor, who have been runners-up in each of the three seasons. The club had aspirations to go through the league season unbeaten but, in the end, they were defeated just once by FK Qizilqum with six matches left to play. With Rivaldo deciding to end his contract with the side midway through the season Macedonian Stevica Ristić ended up as the club’s top scorer this season with 13 goals even though he, himself, left the club in September to go to Russian Premier League side Amkar Perm. At least he enjoyed a major highlight in his career by scoring the winning goal in the 2010 Uzbek Cup final in which they defeated Shurtan Guzar 1-0.

With domestic dominance secured the main objective of the club is to go on to continental glory but the club has gone backwards in this area since reaching the AFC Champions League semi-finals in 2008. Having lost out to losing finalists Adelaide United in that year Bunyodkor then lost at the quarter-final stage to eventual champions Pohang Steelers in 2009 but they blew a 3-1 first leg lead in the process and lost 5-4 on aggregate. In 2010 Luiz Felipe Scolari had high hopes that Bunyodkor could go all the way but, sadly for him, his team were knocked out in the Round of 16 stage by Saudi Arabians Al-Hilal by a convincing 3-0 aggregate scoreline and the club had to swallow its pride as yet another season ended in international disappointment and Scolari would ultimately walk away from the job just weeks later.

But with a third league title and second double in three years in the bag life is clearly good for FC Bunyodkor at the moment. But how long will they stay there…….?

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Eastern Europe’s best get ready for CIS Cup

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 15, 2010
Sheriff Tiraspol

Moldovan champions FC Sheriff parade the cup in 2009. However they won't be there to defend the title this time.

The Commonwealth of Independent States Cup takes place in Moscow for the next ten days as the best teams from the former Soviet bloc and the Baltic States compete for this pre-season tournament. It is sad that, in recent years, most teams choose to enter a reserve side, especially the Russian and Ukrainian champion sides who, since 2006, had preferred to play in the Channel One Cup held in Israel. But the tournament is still good preparation for Eastern European teams to get the most out of their squads with a guaranteed three games for each team in the group stage. Here is a brief guide to all of the clubs that have entered the 2010 tournament:

GROUP A: Rubin Kazan (Russia)

Rubin were promoted to the Russian top flight only seven years ago and have created a back-to-back championship winning side that won their maiden title in 2008 during the club’s 50th anniversary. They won the 2009 Russian League by eight points from record champions Spartak Moscow who, with six victories, are the record holders of the CIS Cup too. Their maiden appearance in the CIS Cup in 2009 ended at the group stage.

Dnepr Mogilev (Belarus)

Dnepr finished in the third place in the Belarussian League in 2009 trailing champions BATE Borisov by a whopping 22 points and runner-up Dinamo Minsk by ten points. They have one national championship to their name when they won in the 1998 season which allowed them to participate in the 1999 CIS Cup in which they finished third in the group stage and fail to qualify for the knock out stage. Representing Belarus as neither BATE nor Dinamo Minsk chose to enter.

FC Dordoi-Dynamo Naryn (Kyrgyzstan)

FC Dordoi have dominated the league in Kyrgyzstan in the last six seasons winning every year since 2004. They won the national championship in 2009 only after having to play against FC Abdish-Ata in a play off match, which finished 3-2, after the two teams were equal on points after the championship group which followed the regular season. FC Dordoi have never progressed beyond the group stage in the CIS Cup.

Liepājas Metalurgs (Latvia)

Metalurgs finally clinched their second Latvian Virsliga title in 2009 after they got the draw they needed on the penultimate matchday against title rivals FK Ventspils (CIS Cup finalist in 2007). Their first championship triumph in 2005 was the first time that a team other than Skonto Riga (three times runners-up in the CIS Cup in 2001, 03 and 04) were crowned champions in post-independence Latvia. In their only CIS Cup appearance in 2006 Metalurgs reached the quarter-finals before they were knocked out by Russian champions CSKA Moscow.

GROUP B: FK Baku (Azerbaijan)

FK Baku won their second Azerbaijani championship title in 2008-09 after they beat local rivals Inter Baku by a solitary point. In their solo appearance in the CIS Cup in 2007 they were defeated at the quarter-final stage by CSKA Moscow who went through 3-2 on penalties following a goalless stalemate.

HJK Helsinki (Finland)

The champions of Finland’s Veikkausliiga are competing in the CIS Cup for the first time this year. They won their 22nd championship in 2009 by finishing three points ahead of nearest challengers Honka Espoo. This was their first championship win since 2003.

FC Aktobe (Kazakhstan)

Kazakh champions four times in the last five years, FC Aktobe won the 2009 title finishing five points ahead of second place Lokomotiv. In the 2009 CIS Cup, FC Aktobe reached the final where they faced off against Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol. After a 1-1 draw in regular time the game went to penalties where FC Sheriff won 5-4 to claim the cup (pictured).

FC Vakhsh (Tajikstan)

Tajik champions for the third time in their history in 2009 having beaten FC Regar-TedAZ to the title by five points. Have never progressed beyond the group stage in two previous attempts in the CIS Cup.

GROUP C: Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine)

Dynamo are an institution in Ukraine. They were the most successful side during the Soviet era with thirteen championships and equalled that number in the 2008-09 Ukrainian championship having beaten old foes Shakhtar Donetsk to the title by thirteen points. Dynamo have also been successful in the CIS Cup having won the competition on four occasions in 1996, 97, 98 and 2002.

HTTU Aşgabat (Turkmenistan)

Three times champions of Turkmenistan with triumphs in the 2005, 06 and 09 seasons. They beat FC Nebitçi in the 2009 championship by a mere two points to qualify for this year’s CIS Cup. HTTU have never qualified for the knockout stages in their previous CIS Cup attempts.

FC Levadia Tallinn (Estonia)

The dominant force in Estonian football having won the last four championships and seven in total. They eased to the 2009 Meistriliiga title by finishing a clear 19 points ahead of nearest challengers Trans Narva and JK Sillamäe Kalev. Despite their regular appearances in recent years FC Levadia have not progressed beyond the group stage.

Russia U-21 (Russia)

The Russian Under-21 side is invited “hors concours” to the tournament which means they are allowed to play three matches during the group stage but their results don’t count towards the final table and they’re not allowed to progress in to the knock out stages.

GROUP D: FC Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan)

A new force in Uzbek football having won the last two domestic championships. They won the 2009 edition under the stewardship of coach Luis Felipe Scolari as they easily saw off all competition finishing 22 points ahead of nearest challengers FC Pakhtakor Tashkent (who finished runner-up to FC Khazar Lenkoran in the 2008 CIS Cup final). FC Bunyodkor did not participate in the 2009 CIS Cup and have sent a reserve team to the 2010 edition opting to prepare their first team for the upcoming AFC Champions League.

FC Pyunik Yerevan (Armenia)

Twelve times winners of Armenia including the last nine championships, FC Pyunik are without doubt the dominant force of modern Armenian football. They won the 2009 title by seven points from FC Mika. The best performance of FC Pyunik in the CIS Cup was in 2006 where they were defeated by PFC Neftchi Baku in the semi-finals.

FK Ekranas (Lithuania)

Five times champions of Lithuania, FK Ekranas finished six points ahead of FK Vetra Vilnius in the 2009 A Lyga to qualify for this year’s CIS Cup. Their best performance in this tournament came in last year’s edition having reached the quarter-final stage only to be knocked-out on penalties by FC Pakhtakor.

FC Dacia Chişinău (Moldova)

Present CIS Cup champions FC Sheriff Tiraspol refused to enter this year’s tournament so Moldova will be represented by 2009 championship runners-up FC Dacia who finished 15 points behind FC Sheriff. This is FC Dacia’s first participation in the CIS Cup.