Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Sydney: Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Ahmedov has recalled his “beautiful” opening goal of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and said he is hopeful of producing more fireworks in his side’s Group B clash with DPR Korea at Stadium Australia on Saturday.
Ahmedov’s pile driver against Qatar was the shot that went round the world and had top clubs lining up to sign him.
He eventually joined Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkala where he outshone the likes of Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o by being named the player of the season in 2011.
“I have only good memories of that goal,” he said. “That goal changed everything in the game (Uzbekistan won 2-0) and in my life. After that goal many teams started to invite me (to play for them). It was the most important goal in my career. The teams from foreign countries invited me (to join them) and I started to play in Russia.
“It is difficult to repeat that kind of goal because it was very, very beautiful. I will try to score (against DPR Korea) but the most important thing is that the team wins not my personal contribution.”
Ahmedov said that long-range shooting was his speciality and he spends hours on the training pitch refining the art.
“When you shoot from long distance the goalkeeper is not expecting it,” he said. “I try to practice it during the training sessions as my position is midfielder and I will try to do it every time when I have a chance during a game. I love to practice long range shooting at training sessions.”
Uzbekistan reached the semi-finals four years ago in Qatar and with Ahmedov and two-time AFC Player of the Year Server Djeparov teaming up in a strong midfield the powerhouses are amongst the favourites in Australia.
“At least we want to repeat our result of 2011 and reach the semi-final stage,” said Ahmedov, who is noted for his tough tackling as well as well as his thunderbolts.
“I want to say we have everything in place to do as well as we did four years ago.”
Ahmedov added that if Uzbekistan can go all the way it would take football in the country to the next level.
“For Uzbek football it will be very, very big progress and for players it will be like (using a) trampoline to go to a higher stage and higher level. For Uzbek people it will be a great celebration,” he said.
On a personal level, he knows that if he makes an impact in Australia during the AFC Asian Cup his chance of making a dream move to one of the main European leagues could be realised.
“Every player must go forward in their career,” said the 27 year old who now plays for Krasnodar in the Russia Premier League.
“Of course I want to play in the European (UEFA) Champions League as it is the best club tournament in the world.
“If some big club from the top five leagues in Europe invites me of course I will see (what happens). I want to play in the Champions League - I have already played in the Europa League and I know how great it is to be part of a big tournament.”