DUSHANBE, October 1, 2012, Asia-Plus -- Dushanbe’s Itiqlol won the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President’s Cup 2012 on Sunday after defeating Al Amma’ri Youth Club of Palestine 2-1 in a gripping encounter at the Dushanbe Central Stadium.

Nilkola Kavazovic’s men fell behind in the 21st minute to an Ahmed Keshkesh goal but Davronjon Ergashev equalized in the 69th minute before crowd favorite Dilshod Vasiyev fired the winner in the 78th minute, allowing Istiqlol to become the second Tajik club after Regar-Tadaz to clinch the title.

According to AFC’s official website, Istiqlol were easily the better side on the night, and cheered on by a full house turnout, including Tajikistan country President His Excellency Emomali Rahmon, set the early pace.  But poor finishing and some stout defending by Al Amma’ri saw them return empty-handed after every raid.

Al Amma’ri broke the goalless deadlock against the run of play after the dangerous Keshkesh was left unmanned and managed to connect with a Sulaiman Obaid cross to stun veteran goalkeeper Alisher Tuychiev and send the crowd into a hush.

Istiqlol panicked and this almost led to Al Amma’ri’s second goal when Ayed Jamhour stole the ball and narrowly missed the left upright.

But after seeing off the danger, Istiqlol were all over Al Amma’ri, busily looking for the equalizer.

A Vasiyev header screamed over the top bar in the 40th minute and it was clear that Istiqlol’s haste was only serving to delay the equalizer as no less than four white shirts missed the ball in front of an open goal in the 41st minute.

The turning point of the match was two substitutions by Kavazovic before the second half kicked off, sending in Ibrohim Rabimov for Yusuf Rabiyev and shunting out the error-prone defender Mahmadali Sodiqov and bringing in playmaker Alexander Frank.

After missing numerous chances that threatened to embolden Al Amma’ri, Frank supplied a beauty of a cross to Ergashev who made no mistake in the 69th minute.

The winner was fittingly scored by popular captain Vasiyev in a goalmouth melee nine minutes later to send the home fans into raptures.

Al Amma’ri continued to fight and Tuychiyev had to execute a couple of acrobatic saves towards the death to ensure the win, which joined a long list of memorable moments for the Tajiks at the Dushanbe Central Stadium.

The AFC President''s Cup is an annual international association football competition between domestic clubs sides run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).  Qualification to the competition is to clubs from AFC-affiliated countries which fall into the AFC''s ‘emerging nations’ category as laid out in their ‘Vision Asia’ document.  Countries which are ‘mature’ and ‘developing’ nations are entered into the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup, respectively.  For an ‘emerging nation’ to have a team representing it in the competition, however, the country must have an acceptable football league.  The team that represents a country in one season of the competition is the defending champion of the top-level leagues of participating countries.

The 2012 AFC President''s Cup is the eighth edition of the AFC President''s Cup.