Strongwilled El Jaish cling to draw in Uzbekistan
Karshi: El Jaish are within touching distance of the AFC Champions League knockout phase after playing out a 0-0 draw with Uzbekistan’s Nasaf in Group D on Tuesday.
The home side edged a first half of few opportunities at Karshi Central Stadium with captain Artur Gevorkyan’s effort in the opening stages the closest they came to breaking the deadlock.
But despite controlling the game after the interval, Nasaf were unable to beat goalkeeper Khalifa Abubacar in the El Jaish goal as the Qataris remained unbeaten in the continental competition ahead of their double header with Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli while Nasaf will twice face off against Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates as Group D is set to reach an exciting climax.
he hosts had the first effort of the game in the opening minute when Turkmenistan international Gevorkyan cut into the box from the right before lashing a low shot from the edge of the area straight at Ababacar.
El Jaish controlled much of the possession in the ensuing 30 minutes but failed to threaten the Nasaf goal with their own Uzbekistan forward, Sardor Rashidov, firing over as the half-hour mark approached.
Bakhrom Abdurakhimov then received a short ball from Erkin Baydullaev with his back to goal before turning and firing wide on the half-volley shortly after.
And as half-time neared, a mix up in the Nasaf defence between Maksud Karimov and Shukhrat Mukhammadiev almost allowed forward Abderrazzaq Hamedallah in but goalkeeper Eldorbek Suyunov was out quickly to thwart the Moroccan.
Nasaf then had the best chance of the game four minutes after the restart, but Azamat Allaniyozov’s powerful header at the back post from Saydullo Rakhmatov’s deep cross from the left went straight at Ababacar.
The home side again came close with 15 minutes remaining when Gevorkyan broke down the right and cut into the penalty area before crossing low to substitute Bobir Abdixolikov, but the El Jaish custodian was again on hand to block his near-post effort.
And the lively Turkmen’s diving header at the back post in the final five minutes was then easily gathered by Ababacar as Nasaf were unable to make their superior second-half possession count.