Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Qatar-Uzbekistan in a must-win clash

IKOLI VICTOR

DOHA QATAR will entertain winless Uzbekistan in a decisive 2014 World Cup qualifying group match at the Al Sadd Stadium on Tuesday.

Group leaders South Korea travel to Tehran to face Iran in a grueling fixture that will determine how the group will look like after five rounds of matches in Asian qualifiers.

Any slip-up by Iran will benefit Qatar, who can move into the group’s top two with a home win over Uzbekistan. However, Paulo Autuori’s hosts must push aside its dismal form, which saw it draw 1-1 against first Oman, and then Jordan, during two friendlies recently.

Adding to its concerns are, defender Ibrahim Majed who will miss the game due to suspension, and forward Yusef Ahmed who remain doubtful with injury.

Knowing that a win is important to their diminishing hopes, the visitors have arrived in Doha hoping to emulate its 2-0 win in the 2011 Asian Cup tournament. However, the Central Asians twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against the United Arab Emirates in a recent friendly, adding to coach Mirdjalal Kasimov’s concerns.

Speaking at a pre-match conference, Uzbekistan coach Mirdjalal Kasimov said, “We have been training for this match for a long time, it is a crucial match for us. The players knows how important it is to win this match, and they will be aiming at finishing second place in the group at least.” Kasimov said the Qatari team is a talented side with lots of good players, but his in Qatar to win and we will fight for it.

The match, which will kickoff at 3.15pm did not go well with the Uzbek coach.

He thinks the timing of the match is hard because of hot weather, but was still confident his players would snatch its first win in the group.

Speaking on tactics, Kasimov said, “The team had a problem converting chances to goals, we have worked on that and hopefully we will be potent in front of goal today.” Head coach of Qatar Paulo Autouri said, “We are aiming at winning today’s match. I am satisfied with our preparations, from the training camp and friendly matches.” “Tuesday’’s match will be against a strong team, knowing Uzbekistan had a good performance in their last match against the UAE,” Autouri said.

“Football is difficult to predict, but South Korea and Iran are expected to qualify from the group, tuesday’s match is decisive in changing the face of the group,” he added.

Qatar will have one eye in the match in Tehran hoping South Korea does it favour in picking any kind of points apart from defeat.

Autouri said, “We are going to concentrate on all our matches, regardless of who is going to qualify.

In addition, the Uzbekistan game is our target” Autouri is confident of his players’ chances and the match time change does not change his match strategy. “We are planning to play under any circumstance and we would be ready for today’s game,” he concluded.

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