Uzbekistan players have their first training run in
Rauf Inileyev, Uzbekistan coach, is ready for anything from penalty kicks to Samba style football in his side’s Asian Cup quarter-final match against Saudi Arabia in Jakarta on Sunday.
The Uzbeks were given little chance of advancing from Group C, but after a narrow 2-1 defeat to powerhouse Iran they thrashed co-hosts Malaysia 5-0 and dumped China out of the tournament with a 3-0 thrashing in the last group game.
Uzbekistan’s run of form and improvement in every game showed that there are no certainties in football and that every game had the potential for surprise, said Inileyev.
“In Group C we had China, one of the strongest teams in Asia, and they played almost an English style of football,” the Uzbekistan coach told a news conference on Saturday.
“We also had Iran, another strong team, who have a German style.
“Saudi Arabia have a Brazilian coach, so they must play a Brazilian kind of football!”
Uzbekistan have never gone beyond the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup, but Inileyev said now was the time to do it and being the underdogs against three-time winners Saudi Arabia did not trouble him.
“There is a first time for everything in life,” he said.
“We are a young country but our ambitions are high. In Group C people were saying China and Iran were the favourites, but Uzbekistan proved them wrong.”
Inileyev said the last eight of the competition provided a ‘cup game’ mentality, where draws did not exist.
There will be a winner on Sunday, in 90 minutes, extra-time or penalty kicks.
“At this stage of the Asian Cup, penalty kicks will be one of the key factors in qualifying for the next round,” Inileyev said.
“But they are a lottery.”
Saudi Arabia coach Helios Cesar dos Anjos is
Meanwhile, Helios Cesar dos Anjos, Saudi Arabia’s Brazilian coach says his side are not at the tournament just to make up the numbers, with the three-time champions undefeated in topping Group D.
“We respect all the teams in the competition,” Anjos said.
“In tomorrow’s game Uzbekistan will be a very, very tough team… but we have our own dreams and we are trying to reach them.”
The Brazilian said he was not troubled by Inileyev’s promise of a “surprise” for the Saudis in the quarter-finals.
“This is the time for psychological war,” said Anjos.
“They have the potential to change and to pull a surprise but I hope that doesn’t happen in our game.
“We have worked hard to get here and we will have to work even more to get to the semi-final and final.”
The winner of Sunday’s clash at the Gelora Bung Karno National Stadium faces the daunting task of playing either Japan or Australia in a semi-final in Hanoi.