A glimpse into the career of former FC Istiklol winger….
Fulfilling the mandatory Asian player quota for the Marina Machans will be winger Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev who will become the first player from Tajikistan to feature in the ISL.
The winger, comfortable operating on either flank, comes to India after plying his trade in the top-tiers of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Indonesia. The 30-year-old also boasts of extensive international experience with his national team.
Jersey Number: 19
Debut and FC Istiklol move
Fatkhuloev made his senior debut for Tajikistan outfit Dynamo Dushanbe in the 2007-08 season before moving to giants FC Istiklol. Between 2007 and 2018, Fatkhuloev established himself as an Istiklol legend, winning a plethora of silverware with the club.
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The winger won six league titles and five Tajik Cups in addition to another five Tajik Super Cups during his first stint. He was also instrumental in the club’s title triumph in the 2012 AFC President’s Cup where he contributed a goal.
Fatkhuloev was also part of the Istiklol side that finished runners-up in the AFC Cup twice, in 2015 and 2017. In fact, in 2017, Fatkhuloev featured as Istiklol defeated Bengaluru FC in the two-legged Inter-zonal final.
He moved to Indonesian outfit Persela Lamongan in December 2017 after nine years with Istiklol. He made a bright start at his new club, contributing several assists in Persela’s campaign in the President’s Cup in January 2018.
But very soon, he became redundant as far as the club’s requirements were concerned. The club were in need of a central midfielder and had to let Fatkhuloev go, with the player and the club agreeing to a mutual termination.
He rejoined his beloved Istiklol and impressed in the 2018 season, scoring seven goals as he helped the club land another league and cup double. In 2019, he moved to Uzbekistan’s FC Buxoro where he made 11 appearances.
He came back to his country in February 2020, signing for FC Khujand. He would end up leaving Khujand to join Chennaiyin FC.
Fatkhuloev is a legend as far as Tajikistan’s national team is concerned. He is their all-time highest capped international with 68 appearances and has scored seven goals as well.
His national team debut came in 2007 when he played against Bangladesh in a World Cup qualifier. His first goal for his country came, interestingly, against India in the final of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. Tajikistan were trailing 3-0 when Fatkhuloev scored a consolation. The match would end 4-1 in India’s favour.
He scored against India again in 2013 in a friendly which finished 3-0 in Tajikistan’s favour. He is still a major part of the Tajik national team and is involved in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, last playing in Tajikistan’s 4-3 loss to Myanmar in 2019 November.
He had joined FC Khujand in February 2020. He had a really productive season in the Tajik top-tier. He was everpresent for the club, scoring five goals and contributing five assists. Khujand finished second on the table, behind FC Istiklol.