Central Asia spreads from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north and from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east. Football clubs in Central Asia had developed a proud and passionate football culture even before they took part in Asian competition.
Taking into consideration several factors such as on-field success and off-field interest, we have chosen 10 clubs from four nations to create this list of the most famous football clubs in Central Asia.
FC Bunyodkor, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Established in 2005, FC Bunyodkor have won five Uzbekistan Super League titles and made two AFC Champions League semi-final appearances, which are a testament to their success.
Famous players such as Shomurodov, Djeparov, and Kapadze have starred for the Bunyodkor, but the most famous football player to have ever worn the blue shirt is the Brazilian World Cup winner Rivaldo, who also won three consecutive titles for the club in the late 2000s.
FC Pakhtakor, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
FC Pakhtakor is a powerhouse of Uzbek football not only in the Soviet era but also in more modern times. There is no club in Central Asia that has managed to deliver success across generations such as Pakhtakor, who twice finished in the top six of the Soviet top flight, and was the region’s first club to reach the Soviet Cup final in 1968.
Tragedy came to the club in 1979 when a special generation of players was lost in an air disaster. However, Pakhtakor have remained a force in modern eras, having won a record 13 Uzbekistan Super League titles as well as twice reaching the semi-finals in Asia.
FC Dordoi, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
Established in 1997, FC Dordoi initially represented Naryn. However, now they are the Bishkek-based powerhouse of the Kyrgyz Premier League and produce some of the best players of Kyrgyz and win trophy after trophy.
They are Kyrgyz’s only club to have won continental silverware, winning the AFC President’s Cup in both 2006 and 2007.