Uzbekistan had been Asian Games champions in 1994 and have since won an AFC U23 Championship title in 2018, but FC Nasaf’s 2011 AFC Cup success makes the Karshi club the only team from the nation to have lifted a major Asian club title.
Led by Ukrainian head coach Anatoliy Demyanenko, Nasaf’s 2-1 win over Kuwait SC in the final earned the club from Uzbekistan’s south – who have never won the league title in their homeland – a priceless victory.
With 37 goals in 12 matches, Nasaf overcame opponents from Yemen, Lebanon, India, Jordan, Thailand and Kuwait to claim the title in a superb season where they finished as runners-up in both league and cup on the domestic front.
Since those heady days, the victorious players have not only enjoyed careers on the international stage, but throughout Asia and beyond at club level.
Some have gone onto coaching careers – with one staff member now the national boss of one of Uzbekistan’s neighbours – while a goal-scoring hero of the final is the proud uncle of one of Asian football’s biggest stars.
With Central Asian clubs set to begin their group stage odyssey on March 11, the-AFC.com looks back at the first, and only club from the region to win the tournament, and what became of their history-making squad.
Goalkeeper: Murotjon Zukhurov
2011 AFC Cup: 12 games, 7 conceded
Current club: FC Bunyodkor
Selected but unused in Uzbekistan’s fourth-placed 2011 AFC Asian Cup squad, Zukhurov was a mainstay in Nasaf’s charge to the AFC Cup final – despite featuring in only 10 of 26 league matches - keeping a total of six clean sheets in the tournament.
The goalkeeper returned to his former club Bunyodkor ahead of their title-winning 2013 season and has remained in Tashkent ever since, still occasionally featuring in Vadim Abramov’s first team at the age of 37.
Defender: Maksud Karimov
2011 AFC Cup: 12 games, 1 goal
Current club: Xorazm FK (Head coach)
A well-regarded defender, and a trusted first team regular under Demyanenko, Karimov (pictured above, left) played every game of Nasaf’s campaign, even finding the back of the net in a 3-2 group stage win away to Yemen’s Al Tilal.
Karimov remained at Nasaf for seven more years after the club’s AFC Cup triumph, making appearances for fellow Uzbekistan Super League side Qizilqum Zarafshon in 2019 before retiring from the game at 34.
He is now the head coach of second tier outfit Xorazm FK.
Defender: Bojan Malisic (Serbia)
2011 AFC Cup: 10 games
Current club: Unattached
A towering 188-centimetre central defender, Masilic, then 26, was one of several players to taste AFC Cup success in their first season with Nasaf, also appearing in 21 league matches after joining from Serbian outfit FK Javor Ivanjica.
With Nasaf his first move outside of his native Serbia, Malisic went on to become an Asian football voyager, becoming a fan favourite for Hong Kong’s South China AA before joining Davao Aguilas of the Philippines as well as Persib Bandung and Badak Lampung in Indonesia, where he last appeared in December 2019.
Full-back: Botir Karaev
2011 AFC Cup: 10 games
Current club: FC Mash’al Mubarek (Assistant coach)
A veteran of Uzbekistan’s 2007 AFC Asian Cup squad, it was Karaev (pictured above, right) who played more minutes than anyone else in Nasaf’s 2011 season, and lifting the trophy turned out to be the crowning achievement of the full-back’s long and distinguished career.
In addition to stints at FC Mash’al and PFC Shurtan, Karaev made over 300 league appearances over two spells with Nasaf, finishing as league runners-up in 2011, and in third place on no less than eight occasions from 2000 to 2014.
Karaev, who turns 40 next month, is an assistant at top-flight outfit and former club Mash’al.
Full-back: Jahongir Jiyamuradov
2011 AFC Cup: 10 games, 1 goal
Current club: FC Zomin (Head coach)
Remembered for converting a crucial penalty kick in Nasaf’s 1-0 semi-final first-leg win over Jordan’s Al Wehdat, Jiyamuradov (pictured above, left) enjoyed an exceptional year in 2011, featuring in the vast majority of matches and being selected at right-back in the Uzbek League team of the season.
He featured in Nasaf’s 2012 AFC Champions League campaign before spending time at several other clubs in the top two divisions of Uzbek football. Still only 32, he is now the head coach of FC Zomin in the second tier.
Midfielder: Andrejs Pereplotkins (Latvia)
2011 AFC Cup: 12 games, 4 goals
Current club: Unattached
Having spent time at clubs such as Anderlecht and Southampton in his youth and arriving fresh from a loan spell at Derby County, Nasaf’s 2011 campaign provided a major highlight of the Ukraine-born Latvian midfielder’s globe-trotting career.
Pereplotkins (pictured above, right) was one of the stars of Nasaf’s Cup run, scoring four goals - including the unforgettable flick which made it 2-0 in the final - in a season which bore 12 goals from 40 appearances in all competitions.
A 32-cap international, Pereplotkins stayed with Nasaf for one more season before appearing for a series of clubs in Estonia, Armenia, Cyprus and his native Lativa, where he last appeared for SK Super Nova in 2019.
Midfielder: Lutfulla Turaev
2011 AFC Cup: 12 games, 4 goals
Current club: FC Bunyodkor
Another player to have arrived from Mash’al, Turaev’s two years at Nasaf were highly successful, with the then 23-year-old midfielder appearing in every match on their golden run to AFC Cup glory.
Less than two months after the final, Turaev moved to Bunyodkor, where he won a league title in 2013, later appearing for PFC Lokomotiv as well as AGMK and Malaysian clubs FELDA United and Terengganu.
Turaev – who played for Uzbekistan at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup – had appeared for Bunyodkor in this season’s AFC Champions League qualifiers, as well as their opening league match against Surkhon on Sunday, but Indonesia’s Madura United have announced that they have signed him for the 2020 league campaign.
Midfielder: Artur Gevorkyan (Turkmenistan)
2011 AFC Cup: 11 games, 4 goals
Current club: FC Ahal (Turkmenistan)
The tournament MVP and supplier of both assists in the final, the Turkmenistan international was a crucial ingredient in Demyanenko’s victorious side, contributing 11 goals in all competitions in the first of six fruitful seasons with Nasaf.
League player of the season in 2013, and top scorer with 18 goals in 2014, Gevorkyan has appeared for Lokomotiv, Qizilqum and Persib Bandung of Indonesia since leaving the club, and is currently registered with FC Ahal in his native Ashgabat.
Midfielder: Erkin Baydullaev
2011 AFC Cup: 9 games
Current club: AGMK FC
In his first season with the club, Baydullaev was a consistent contributor in Nasaf’s charge to Asian glory, featuring 21 times in the league and making nine AFC Cup appearances - including every minute of both the semi-final tie against Al Wehdat and the decider against Kuwait SC.
Baydullaev remained with Nasaf until the end of the 2016 season, picking up one Uzbekistan cap, before joining Qizilqum. Now 35, he still features in the Uzbekistan Super League for 2019 Cup runners-up AGMK.
Forward: Ilkhom Shomurodov
2011 AFC Cup: 8 games, 3 goals
Current club: retired
Shumurodov wrote his name into the history books when he steered home the crucial opener from five yards, adding to earlier strikes against Dempo SC and Al Faisaly in a season which produced three AFC Cup goals and 10 in all competitions.
Aside from a short-lived 2012 move to Bunyodkor, Shumorodov spent the remainder of his career at Nasaf before his 2016 retirement.
Shomurodov is no longer involved in football, but his nephew, Uzbekistan national team and FC Rostov striker Eldor Shomurodov, is one of Asian football’s hottest properties.
Forward: Ivan Boskovic (Montenegro)
2011 AFC Cup: 10 games, 10 goals
Current club: Retired
The go-to striker in Nasaf’s run to the final, Boskovic only scored four league goals in 2011, but he was almost unstoppable in the AFC Cup, finding the net 10 times in as many matches to finish as the competition’s leading scorer.
A Serbian Cup winner with Vojvodina in 2007, Boskovic (pictured above, left) was plucked from relative obscurity to join Nasaf as a 29-year-old at the beginning of the 2011 season, but eight group stage goals – including four in a single game against Dempo – and a semi-final winner against Al Wehdat, were among his many achievements in the continental competition.
The Montenegrin striker stayed at Nasaf for one more season before moving to Chonburi, and he spent the rest of his career playing for various Thai outfits with the exception of a 2017 stint at hometown club Stujeska Niksic.
Beyond the starting XI
An unused substitute in the final, Nosirbek Otakuziev (pictured above, right) scored five AFC Cup goals for Nasaf in 2011, and spent the rest of his career playing for a series of Uzbek top-flight clubs, while substitute Fozil Musaev went on to play for Uzbekistan at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, and throughout Asia for Qatar’s Muaither SC, IR Iran’s Sepahan and Japan’s Jubilo Iwata.
Artyom Filiposyan (pictured below, left) also ventured East, playing for clubs in China PR, Thailand and most recently Indonesia since featuring in Bunyodkor’s 2013 league title triumph, while Eldorbek Suyunov – then a 20-year-old understudy – is a current Uzbekistan international and starting goalkeeper for league champions FC Pakhtakor.
Head coach: Anatoliy Demyanenko (Ukraine)
Highly-decorated, both on and off the pitch, long before taking the reins at Nasaf, Demyanenko’s AFC Cup triumph came after he had won five Soviet League titles and a UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup title with Dynamo Kyiv in his playing days before returning to lead the club to a Ukrainian League title as head coach in 2007.
He represented the Soviet Union on 80 occasions, and captained the side which reached the knockout stage at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
Demynanenko’s only full season with Nasaf was in 2011. He joined FC Volyn Lutsk in January 2012 in a stint which lasted just over a year and remained away from a head coaching role until pursuing an offer from Slovenian outfit FC Nitra at the age of 61 in January this year.
Team manager: Usmon Toshev
A former Uzbekistan international who served as team manager in 2011, Toshev (pictured above) took the reins as Nasaf’s head coach the following season and led a series of clubs before taking over as Tajikistan national team boss in 2018.
The 54-year-old is aiming to take the Central Asian nation to their first ever major tournament at either the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 or AFC Asian Cup China 2023. They currently sit third behind Japan and Kyrgyz Republic in Group F of Asian Qualifiers.