CEBU CITY: Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) held two-time winners Dordoi Bishkek to a 1-1 draw in their opening match of the AFC President’s Cup here on Wednesday.
The Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) title winners showed great resolve against the Kyrgyz champions to get a point out of what was touted to be their toughest Group ‘B’ match in Asia’s third-tier club competition.
“They are a very strong team but my players played their hearts out to salvage a draw,” KRL head coach Tariq Lutfi said after the match.
“Now we’ll hope to build on this and hopefully get better results in our remaining two games.”
KRL next play Philippine champions Global FC on Friday before facing Bhutanese title-winners Yeedzin FC two days later. The top two teams from the group advance to the next stage.
Dordoi took the lead in the 23rd minute when Vadim Kharchenko slammed in the rebound after Mirlan Murzaev’s shot was blocked by KRL custodian Saqib Hanif.
Dordoi dominated the first-half with last-ditch tackles by KRL preventing them from increasing their lead.
But they came out with renewed belief in the second-half, and in the 49th, Samar Ishaq equalized from the penalty spot after Kaleemullah was fouled inside the penalty box.
“We failed to convert our chances in the first-half and in the end we were made to pay for it,” Dordoi manager Sergei Dvoryankov said. “But I’m satisfied with our performance against a battling KRL side.”
In the late match, Global FC made a flying start to their campaign after a thumping 5-0 victory over Yeedzin FC.
Philippines internationals Patrick Reichelt, Carli de Murga, Marwin Angeles and Misagh Bahadoran scored the first four goals before Poland’s Ben Starosta completed the romp as they took top spot in the group.