You can’t really miss Uzbekistan on the map whether it be by name or by the sheer size of the country itself.
Yet while the nation is famous for its unique taste to food and culture its football heritage is anonymous to most supporters across the west.
Only established in 1992 the Uzbekistan Super League consists of 12 teams, with Pakhtakor holding the most titles at eleven while the current champions are Lokomotiv Tashkent with two themselves.
Most of the multi-built purpose stadiums were constructed during the Soviet era but have now been renovated to house willing fans as they travel in flock to support their team.
The league is generally played between March to November in the calendar year and has occasionally had the Super Cup as a curtain raiser to the domestic campaign.
So, how have these sides gotten on in match-day ten of the 22 league season?
Pakhtakor 1-1 Kokand 1912
The most successful side in Uzbekistani football history against a team founded 80 years before the domestic league was established. This was on paper a remarkable match-up in so many ways.
The full picture of Kokand 1912 is one for another time but the squad initially formed out of a military garrison before wealthy merchants joined the team, making the club the oldest established in central Asia.
And there was the sense of blockading the defences when Kokand travelled to the largest football stadium in the country to face their toughest test.
Pakhtakor had not lost a game since April 6 and were in no mood to end their unbeaten run, with Tiago Queiroz Bezerra cancelling out Javokhir Sidikov’s stunning opener.
The draw means that Pakhtakor stay top while Kokand 1912 sit in eighth.
Neftchi Fergana 1-4 Lokomotiv Tashkent
The reigning champions have suffered this season but a 4-1 away win put the cherry back on top of the icing of the cake as they won convincingly at bottom side Neftchi.
Without a win, Neftchi had picked up just four points at the start of the season, their worst in over a decade. In their last match they managed a 1-1 draw against mid-table Navbahor but were routed by Lokomotiv’s power and presence.
Husniddin Gafurov opened the scoring just after the half hour mark before Sardor Rashidov found the net twice himself to make it three.
Yet the scoring wasn’t over yet when Ikram Alibaev went through to add his name to the score-sheet much to the dismay of the home fans. Even a consolation goal from the spot from Abbosbek Makhsatalliev could do nothing to drown out the jeers.
Qizilqum 1-2 Metallurg Bekabad
It’s been a bit of a one man show for Qizilqum this season. The club who are based just off the Zeravshan River have won just three of their ten games with exactly half of their goals netted by one man.
And that was the similar trend when Metallurg visited last week. Once again Elgujja Grigalashvili scored and yet again it wasn’t enough as the goal proved to be a consolation.
In truth it looked bleak for the home side when Metallurg found the target in the 21st minute, Zakhid Abdullayev opening his account before Shakhzod Shaymanov doubled the lead.
It was enough for the three points as the away team now move up to fourth place, just four points off the top of the table.
Bunyodkur 2-1 Nasaf
They haven’t won the title and picked up the trophy since 2013 but you feel this is their best chance in a while. Bunyodkur have waited for this moment for years, second in the table just before the half way point of the season.
Which is why the 2-1 victory over Nasaf feels even more significant. The reason? Well, over the past two years Nasaf have finished second, on both occasions above Bunyodkur.
In fact Nasaf haven’t finished outside the top three of the league in over five years so this victory would’ve meant a lot to a Bunyodkur side who have underperformed in recent years.
This season however they can be grateful for the five goals from Jovlon Ibrokhimov, who opened the scoring in the 57th minute before Khurshid Giyosov doubled their lead in quick fashion.
It was simply too big a bridge to walk over for Nasaf who, even with an injury time strike from the ever present Sherzod Temirov could not salvage the draw. They stay seventh.
Buxoro 0-1 Navbahor
Buxoro have started the season immensely well but suffered a major blow to their hopes of winning the title after a 1-0 home defeat to Navbahor.
For Buxoro it’s now their second defeat in a row after falling at the final hurdle against Metallurg last week, so the club have now moved down a place to third in the table.
For Navbahor the win will signal some relief to a side still finding its feet in the division this year, with inconsistency plaguing the side’s chances at a charge towards the divisional crown.
An early goal from Mirzokhid Gofurov was enough on this occasion but the question is can they put a run together in the future and climb from sixth place in the table?
Olmaliq 0-0 Sogdiana
Not a classic for the neutrals, that’s for sure. A real grudge match between two sides battling to avoid the drop, scared of losing any kind of lead given the lack of belief currently installed into both teams.
It wasn’t particularly surprising to find that there were seven bookings in the match, with both managers, Viktor Kumykov and Sergey Lushcan, fairly animated on the touchline.
Olmaliq now move up to ninth position while Sogdiana remain second from bottom, just five points off Neftchi.