Saturday, May 26, 2012

Neftchi no more

The Neftchi line-up against PPCFC in last season's AFC President's Cup final stage
The Kyrgyzstan football championship is five games into its 2012 campaign and Dordoi Bishkek, who scored a late penalty success over Phnom Penh Crown at the Olympic Stadium recently, are in second spot. They will be joining Crown in the six-team final of the AFC President's Cup in September at a location still to be decided by AFC. However, one name missing from the Kyrgyz championship this season is that of Neftchi Kochkor-Ata, who Crown fans will remember also inflicted a 1-nil defeat of Crown in the qualifying competition last season. Though Crown did get their revenge, beating Neftchi 2-1 in the final stages of the AFC President's Cup in Taiwan. That was effectively Neftchi's swansong after the club suffered a funding shortfall from its main sponsor Kyrgyzneftgaz - the Department of State's oil and gas company - and collapsed on the eve of the new season. Neftchi won the league title in 2010 ending a six-year stranglehold of the country's top football league by Dordoi, though lost out again last term, finishing runners-up to their main rivals. Now their sixty year history has come to an inglorious end and it remains to be seen whether football in the Kochkor-Ata area of the country will regain a representative next season. Football fans noticed a team by the same name, FC Neftchi playing in the AFC Cup this year and wondered aloud if Neftchi had been promoted. They hadn't. The Neftchi team competing in the higher-graded competition are from Uzbekistan.

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