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Renard praises Saudi Arabia talent after win in Uzbekistan

Tashkent: Head coach Hervé Renard has praised both the dedication and talent of his Saudi Arabia players after they twice came from behind to beat Uzbekistan 3-2 in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

At a typically atmospheric Pakhtakor Stadium in Tashkent, home favourite Eldor Shomurodov gave Uzbekistan the lead on 16 minutes, only to see Salman Al Faraj restore parity from the spot shortly after.

Uzbekistan went ahead for a second time in the 56th minute courtesy of an Otabek Shukurov penalty, before Al Faraj scored his second goal on the night with five minutes remaining and Salem Al Dawsari netted a late winner as Saudi Arabia claimed their second win of the Asian Qualifiers.

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“I had previously said that our match against Uzbekistan would be harder than the previous matches that we had played,” said Renard in the post-match press conference.

“Uzbekistan’s second goal put us in a difficult situation, but the reaction of the players was positive and they handled things pretty well.

“It was a tough match for the two sides. Victories come with the talent and dedication of the players. The third goal proves that we have talented players.”

The victory has left Saudi Arabia – who are now not scheduled to resume their qualifying campaign until March – top of the standings, two points clear of second-placed Uzbekistan and a further point ahead of Yemen in third.

“Our target is clear which is to get past this round,” added the 51-year-old French tactician.

“In addition, I want to give the talented players the chance to form a strong group for the future.”

Photo: Saudi Arabian Football Federation

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