Mirdjalal Kasimov tight-lipped as Uzbekistan prepare for quarter-final

Melbourne: Coach Mirdjalal Kasimov remained tight-lipped over his team selection for Uzbekistan’s AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 quarter-final with Korea Republic on Thursday having made a number of high-profile changes last time out against Saudi Arabia.

Needing to win against Saudi Arabia at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium last Sunday, Kasimov made five changes to the side following Uzbekistan’s previous defeat by China with captain Server Djeparov and fellow veteran Timur Kapadze amongst those missing out.

The move paid off with recalled 23-year-old striker Sardor Rashidov scoring twice as Uzbekistan crucially won 3-1 to finish second in Group B, although with Group A winners Korea making the trip to Melbourne, Kasimov has decisions to make with a second consecutive semi-final place at stake.

“We made many mistakes in the game against China and that is why we rotated the starting 11 and the squad, and that is why Server Djeparov was on the bench, but I still believe he is one of the best players in Uzbekistan and he will play for Uzbekistan for many years,” said Kasimov.

“We still believe in players like Server Djeparov and Timur Kapadze, but we will have our final training session and after that we will decide who will play, but our starting 11 will be fine.

“We choose the tactics for all opponents, and for Korea we will have separate tactics. We have a plan B and we will use experienced players and young players together.”

Korea Republic beat Uzbekistan 3-2 in the third place play-off at the previous AFC Asian Cup in Qatar in 2011, while also winning the last meeting between the pair 1-0 in Seoul in June 2013 during the final round of qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“I don’t feel pressure as we should concentrate, but this is not a re-match from the World Cup qualifiers as this is history and we have to be concentrated and focused on the match not about the re-match,” added Kasimov, who also saw his side draw 2-2 with Korea earlier in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Tashkent in September 2012.

“We don’t worry about anything; we just need to think about our game. If we play against Korea like we did against Saudi Arabia I think we can beat them and show our best game. Korea are one of the best teams and they use high speed counter-attacks, maybe this is their best aspect, but the best thing we can do is think about ourselves.”

While Uzbekistan also beat DPR Korea 1-0 to finish with six points in Group B, Korea topped Group A after recording single goal wins over Oman, Kuwait and Australia.

“We are expecting an interesting game. We have finished the group stage so it will be very interesting. It is only one game and we don’t have any chance to make mistakes because in the group stage you can make mistakes and improve in the next game, but in the knockout stage you cannot,” said Kasimov.

“Statistics never lie and you can see Korea defend well and the attackers and midfielders always help the defence and help the team to win, and of course they have a strong goalkeeper, that is why they have not conceded any goals, but we hope that statistic will change.

“We want to beat Korea in 90 minutes, but if not, we are ready for penalties.”

Photo: WSG

Source : Asian Football Confederation website

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