Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Brisbane: Uzbekistan coach Mirdjalal Kasimov tipped his hat to China after his side lost 2-1 in a crunch AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Group B tie at Brisbane Stadium on Wednesday.
The Uzbeks took the lead in the first half through Odil Ahmedov but allowed China to storm back in the second half, man of the match Wu Xi equalising shortly before the hour and Jiangsu Sainty livewire Sun Ke coming off the bench to net the deciding goal in the 68th minute.
Uzbekistan, who advanced to the semi-finals at Qatar 2011 and had been tipped by many as group favourites, must now beat Saudi Arabia in their final group game on Sunday in Melbourne. The Saudis are ahead of the Uzbeks on goal difference after thrashing DPR Korea 4-1 earlier Wednesday.
Kasimov was a gracious loser, making no excuses for the slip-up.
"We did everything we could to beat China but after we conceded for the first time in the second half, they became stronger and changed the game," said the coach. "I thought my team played well but China were the better team after their first goal.
"It was a very, very hot to play in this situation but China were in the same boat."
Kasimov denied Uzbekistan underestimated China, who are ranked ninth in Asia, five slots behind Uzbekistan.
"We respect all our opponents," said Kasimov. "There are no easy games in this competition. It was our mistake that we lost today, it was our fault. We have to play until the final whistle. One of the reasons we conceded was because there was a misunderstanding in the defence."
Like his coach, captain Server Djeparov credited China with the win but did say the heat and humidity, the worst since the tournament started in Brisbane, did take their toll on Uzbekistan.
"Today China were better than us," Djeparov said. "(The conditions) were very difficult. We sweated a lot. It affected the whole team."
Added China-based midfielder Anzur Ismailov, "Today I don't know what happened in the second half; we just went down.
"We must win our next game so we will go and play anyway we have to. We play again in three days so we will do everything to win this game."