Uzbeks driven by 2014 World Cup play-off heartache

Uzbek coach Mirdjalal Kasimov on Friday said their World Cup play-off defeat to Jordan still rankled as the Central Asians prepare to open their Asian Cup against North Korea.

AFP| Updated: Jan 09, 2015, 18:43 PM IST
Uzbeks driven by 2014 World Cup play-off heartache

Sydney: Uzbek coach Mirdjalal Kasimov on Friday said their World Cup play-off defeat to Jordan still rankled as the Central Asians prepare to open their Asian Cup against North Korea.

Kasimov said Uzbekistan found it hard to take their defeat in an extraordinary tie in late 2013 which was interrupted by a floodlight failure and was settled 9-8 on penalties.

Jordan went through to a final World Cup play-off against Uruguay, which the South Americans won 5-0 on aggregate to reach last year`s World Cup in Brazil.

"It was very hard for us because we couldn`t go through to the final (play-off), because Uzbekistan always play to win," said former midfielder Kasimov.

"But anyway life goes on. In this tournament we will try to be at the top level."

Uzbekistan, the 2011 Asian Cup semi-finalists, now have the chance to write a new chapter by continuing their steady progression in Asian football.

The White Wolves will be looking to take another step forward after reaching the quarter-finals in 2004 and 2007, and finishing fourth four years ago in Qatar.

Kasimov said he expected captain and two-time Asian player of the year Server Djeparov to shepherd a young group of players which he said were destined to become among the best in Asia.

"He`s one of the main and key players in our team. He`s very experienced and I hope that he will help other players to show themselves," Kasimov said.

"Server can be a leader on the pitch. Experienced players like Djeparov, (Timur) Kapadze, I hope they help the youngsters in this tournament, because our team is young."