Uzbek giants Pakhtakor hit hard by desertions

Tashkent, Uzbekistan ( -- Pakhtakor have plunged into a crisis of unprecedented proportions after the departure of 11 players, most of whom played a key role in propelling the Uzbek giants into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals.

Following the shift of national goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov to archrivals Bunyodkor, Pakhtakor have now lost all-time ACL leading goalscorer Zaynitdin Tadjiyev and five other players to other clubs.

Forward Tadjiyev has moved to Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda, while captain and defender Asror Alikulov has quit Pakhtakor for fellow Uzbek League side Shurtan.

Defender Islom Inomov and midfielder Renat Bayramov have joined Pakhtakor’s league rivals Andijan, while midfielder Sadriddin Abdullaev and defender Ahrol Riskullaev are now on the rolls of two unnamed Chinese clubs.

Five more players, who mostly warmed the bench, have also been released, a club official said on their official website. They are: striker Nodirbek Kuziboyev (unnamed Chinese club), midfielder Mirzakamol Kamalov, defender Bekzod Karimov (both Andijan), midfielder Haydar Pirnazarov (Kyzylkum) and goalkeeper Eldor Tadjibaev (club undecided).

Pakhtakor Sporting Director Georgiy Tseytlin played down the crisis.

“We wanted to accommodate the interests of each player. They have served the club for many years and we hope that they will return in some capacity in the future,” he said.

“We hope that we will have 22 players to successfully achieve our targets this season,” added Tseytlin, pointing out that Khorezm goalkeeper Erkin Jabbarov (pictured), Dynamo striker Pavel Purishkin and Navbahor defender Rahmatullo Berdimurodov had been added to Pakhtakor’s ranks.

The developments have unfolded in the backdrop of Pakhtakor’s preparations for the ACL quarter-finals against Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia in September.

On the domestic front, Pakhtakor are trailing defending champions Bunyodkor by 12 points after 15 rounds in the league while they will face AFC Cup quarter-finalists Neftchi in the second leg of their Uzbekistan Cup semi-final on July 30. They won the first leg 4-1 recently.

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