AGMK, Istiklol ready for historic AFC Champions League face off

There is all to play for in Group A with the Matchday One ties having ended in draws and a win for either side on Sunday will put them in a comfortable position in the race to emerge group winners and seal the automatic slot to the Round of 16.

AGMK produced a phenomenal AFC Champions League debut performance against Al Hilal SFC, where they took the lead through Zafar Polvonov but a string of individual and defensive mistakes saw the 2019 champions take the lead at the end of the first half. The Uzbek Super League club continued fighting and were rewarded with a point thanks to Sanjar Shaakhmedov's equaliser.

It was a hugely deserved result and AGMK will fancy their chances against Istiklol after recording the highest number of shots on target than any other team on Matchday One.

Head coach Mirdjalal Kasimov will urge his players to start on the front foot in the first ever meeting between clubs from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the group stage of the AFC Champions League.

"They’re considered our neighbours so it will be an interesting match," said Kasimov. "They’re tactically a good team, as I’ve watched them in their league and the match against Shabab Al Ahli. We know it’s not going to be easy but we will try our best to beat them.

The two teams did meet two years ago in the preliminary stage, where AGMK won 4-2, but the result has no bearing for Kasimov who is only focused on Sunday's tie.

Mirdjalal Kasimov - AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2021 - Pre-Match Press Conference (1)

"That match was two years ago, and both teams are different now. But we will see what happens tomorrow.

"We will keep playing our style, but we won’t forget that they transitioned really well from defence to counter-attack. They have shown how dangerous they can be, especially Huseyin Dogan and Manuchekhr Dzhalilov. We will need to be careful of them."

Istiklol opted for a more defensive approach in their debut group stage appearance of the continental tournament, and it was an effective method against UAE's Shabab Al Ahli Dubai with the match ending 0-0.

Istiklol head coach Mubin Ergashev, however, is likely to opt for a more attack-oriented approach against AGMK as three points will be crucial if they are to fight for a spot in the Round of 16.

Mubin Ergashev - AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2021 - Pre-Match Press Conference

"We have a tough match tomorrow, so our players will need to concentrate even more," said Ergashev.

"The last match two years ago was in the preliminary stage, but we are playing in the group stage, so the circumstances are a little different. However, we do want to get the win this time, but any time we go up against an Uzbek team, it is always tough.

"We will be using the most effective strategy to get all three points tomorrow."

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