Alijonov hails Uzbekistan’s mental resilience
Changzhou: Uzbekistan defender Khojiakbar Alijonov has hailed his side’s mental resilience following Friday’s crucial 1-0 win over host nation China PR at the AFC U23 Championship 2018.
The 20-year-old struck early in the first half at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre to seal all three points for the Central Asians and revitalise their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals following a 1-0 defeat to Qatar on Matchday One.
With another key fixture to come against Oman on Monday, Alijonov believes Uzbekistan’s success against China was, in part, down to their mental approach to the fixture.
“Before the match, I think we were in a difficult situation in the group,” admitted the Pakhtakor left-back who featured for his country at the 2016 AFC U-19 Championship.
“But, we worked on our mental approach. Some players just weren’t ready (for the first match).
“The coach told us before the game that we must play to the best of our ability against China because they are the most dangerous team in our group.”
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Whilst delighted to have scored against China, Alijonov insists that the result was all that mattered ahead of the Oman game when a win would see Uzbekistan through to the last eight.
“It was a normal feeling for me as a player to score the goal, but what mattered most was the result.
“It’s always important to score goals but results must always come first.
“We’re not thinking about our match against Oman now, the coach told us that we will rest for a day and will begin preparation the following day.”