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Abramov hails resilient Uzbekistan

Singapore: Uzbekistan's Vadim Abramov was satisfied to emerge victorious after his side overcame a spirited Singapore to claim a 3-1 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers win on Tuesday.

The Central Asians avoided a potential banana-skin at the National Stadium, with Ikhsan Fandi Ahmad’s header bringing the hosts level at 1-1 on the stroke of half-time, before a second half brace from star striker Eldor Shomurodov sealed three important points.

The win, coupled with Saudi Arabia’s scoreless draw in Palestine, helped the White Wolves reach the top of Group D for the first time - a position they will have the opportunity to strengthen further when they meet the Saudis at home on Matchday Five next month.

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Speaking after his second win in as many matches since his reappointment as head coach, Abramov praised the mental strength of his side, who overcame fatigue to secure an important result.

“It was a difficult game. We were a little worried and it’s good that everything ends well. The guys flew for a long time,” said Abramov, whose side took a reported eight hours to fly from Tashkent to Singapore before arriving on Monday.

“The flight and the long season the players have played affected us. it’s clear that the guys got tired. We wanted to refresh the middle line (in the second half). We had problems with the middle line and the guys started to play better, so it was good for us.”

Not for the first time in this Asian Qualifiers campaign, Singapore proved harder to beat than their world ranking of 157 might have suggested.

The Southeast Asians had already beaten Palestine and drawn with Yemen on home soil in Group D, and they were in position to potentially achieve a far greater upset before Shomurodov showed why he is currently top of the Russian Premier League scoring charts.

Though impressed by Tatsuma Yoshida’s side, Abramov said he would waste no time dwelling on his side’s most recent success, particularly ahead of the visit of Saudi Arabia on November 14.

“(Singapore’s strength) was not a surprise because I saw the two games (before this). This a very good team and their organisation is very good. I think the coach has done good work,” Abramov declared.

“(But) I see ahead, and we have Saudi (Arabia) coming. I look at the next games. This game is already history. I’m already looking ahead.”

Meanwhile, Singapore boss Yoshida was left to rue the second half fade-out that saw his slide slip to fourth place in the group.

“Against this kind of opponent at international level, if we give them a chance, they will take it,” said the Japanese mentor. “if we stop running, we lose the game. It’s about the small details.

“Many things have improved since June when I came in, (but) we have to improve (more) and the players need to have more confidence.”

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