Khaydarov targets more glory for Uzbekistan
Changzhou: Ravshan Khaydarov ranked Uzbekistan’s AFC U23 Championship 2018 triumph as one of the finest accomplishments in the country’s sporting history after his side saw off Vietnam to claim the title.
Andrey Sidorov claimed the winner with virtually the final kick of a game that went into extra-time to give Uzbekistan the title for the first time and their first trophy at continental level since winning the AFC U16 Championship in 2010.
Uzbekistan’s only other continental title came in 1994 when the newly-inducted AFC member claimed the gold medal at the Asian Games and Khaydarov believes the win can spur the country onto greater success after some difficult years at senior level.
“We made history today and it’s one of the greatest victories for Uzbekistan football and for our country,” he said.
“I haven’t thought too much about the significance, but this trophy can be very good for the future. This team is the future of our senior team. Over the last few years we didn’t see any trophies and we can’t say that we have played in a satisfactory way at the tournaments that we have played.
“So this is very important for us. But I haven’t thought too much about it because I’m emotional.”
Khaydarov’s side were made to work hard for the win in demanding conditions, with the game played in blizzard-like conditions throughout the 120 minutes it took to decide the winner.
Rustamjon Ashurmatov gave Uzbekistan the lead in the eighth minute but Nguyen Quang Hai continued the fine form he has shown throughout the competition with a stunning free-kick just before halftime to level the scores.
With no further goals, the game went into extra-time and seemed destined to go to penalties until Sidorov steered his low shot home in the 120th minute.
“It was a great performance in today’s match,” said Khaydarov. “The players showed the maximum of what they can do. It was the maximum because it was a difficult game.
“But we deserved this trophy from what we have shown throughout this tournament. This trophy is for our families, our friends and all the Uzbek people who watched on TV.
“I’ve known this team for about two years and a lot of the players have played in the FIFA U20 World Cup. They have good experience, but I told them they can do more and that they could win this title. Every day I told them this.”
Khaydarov paid tribute to his team’s opponents and he believes Vietnam will make major strides on the international scene with their current crop of players.
“Vietnam are a very beautiful team with compact defending and they played beautiful football throughout this tournament,” he said. “We analysed this team and that’s why we played how we did.
“I really respect the Vietnam team and I think they have a very good future. This is a good generation and they can do more than they have at this tournament. “