Ghanaian defender, Samuel Ofori and his Ravshan Kulob teammates are on cloud nine after confirming their new found superiority over champions Istiklol Dushanbe following a massive 2-1 away win in the Tajikistan League version of ‘El Classico’ on Sunday evening.
Ofori saw full 90 minutes action as 10-man Kulob completed the treble over the perennial league champs this term alone, and most importantly move within three points of the leaders at the apex of the 2023 Tajik League campaign.
Ghanaian midfielder, Emmanuel Maaboah received the marching off orders just after Kulob took a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead following two quick goals in the 59th and 60th minutes.
The home favourites did pull one back soon after but the defence of Kulob, ably marshalled by Samuel Ofori stood firm to seal the crucial win. Also on parade for Kulob were two other Ghanaians, Idan Ocran (90 minutes) and Joseph Akomadi (86 minutes).
Kulob which finished second to Istiklol last season, did beat the much fancied top side in the Tajik Super Cup at the beginning of this month, the first ever club trophy in the young career of 24 year old Samuel Ofori.
This was few days after Kulob beat the same Istiklol in the league, which’s double they did complete with the terrific victory on the road on Sunday which not only cut the deficit atop the standings to three, it also renews Ofori’s unwavering belief that they could wrestle away the title this year.
“It wasn’t easy because we got a red card 63rd minute, Emmanuel Maaboah was sent off so we needed to change our tactics to keep the lead and it wasn’t easy at all,” Ofori reflected.
“In the space of one month, we beat them thrice which is a record here in Tajikstan so people are classifying us as the best team but we are still three points behind them so we have to keep pushing,” he continued.
Ravshan Kulob now have 20 points to the 23 of Istiklol after 11 games apiece in what surely is a two-horse race for the crown, even though third placed Eskhata on 19 points as well as 4th CSKA Dushanbe (17) and 5th Kuktosh Rudaki (16) are not far behind either.
Ofori’s side next host Eskhata at home next Saturday, 3 June, same day and time for Istklol’s match day 12 fixture on the road across town to city rivals CSKA Dunshabe, who of course sit 4th on the table.
“We still have hope, earlier in the season, we committed some petty petty mistakes that made us drop points and we also got robbed by referees, denying us crucial penalties that would have given us more points,” Ofori said
“The gap is now 3 points so we keep pushing hard and keep winning. Our next game is home to Eskhata who are third, we have to win that. We don’t know what will happen in Istiklol’s game but we have to keep winning,” the Ghanaian centreback added.