Head coach Vadim Abramov praised his opponents’ quality after Uzbekistan earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Yemen in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Friday.
A third win on the trot and as many clean sheets since the resumption of the Qualifiers meant Uzbekistan go into their final match against Saudi Arabia with the top spot still up for grabs as the Uzbeks sit second, just two points adrift of the group hosts.
“It was a very difficult game, but we expected it. I knew that Yemen are a team that know how to play,” said Abramov.
“We have to adapt to the opponent; each team moves as much as the opponent can and we need to draw lessons from this match. Saudi Arabia also suffered today; they failed to score until the 85th minute of the match against Singapore."
“Today we could not show our real game. We should not be playing like this, but unfortunately, we had to adapt to the Yemeni game. We lost a lot of the ball. Nevertheless, we had the opportunity to break the deadlock early, then we spent the last minutes of the match more calmly. Their goalkeeper did well throughout.
“We wanted to go into the game against Saudi Arabia without losses after the restart, and we achieved this goal."
Jaloliddin Masharipov was lively throughout, creating chances aplenty and it was his goal from the spot that settled the tie in the 19th minute after Ibrohimkhalil Yuldoshev was tripped inside the box, and Abramov had special praise for his number 10 who walked a tightrope from start to finish knowing a booking would see him suspended for the group decider against Saudi Arabia in four days’ time.
“Masharipov was playing below his full potential today. The caution associated with the yellow card has had its effect on him. I had to keep him on the pitch until the end of the match as things were close, but I knew he was a smart guy and wouldn't get a yellow card.”
The group concludes on Tuesday with Uzbekistan playing Saudi Arabia at King Saud University Stadium, while Palestine face Yemen in a simultaneous kick-off at King Fahd International Stadium.