ACQ Preview: Uzbekistan v Hong Kong

ACQ Preview: Uzbekistan v Hong Kong

By Paul Williams

Uzbekistan has promised so much for so long and they begin their 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign full of hope that they can compete with the best in Asia.

Currently sitting atop Group A in the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying, the Uzbek’s will expect nothing less than all three points when Hong Kong travel to Tashkent.

Everyone knows the names and quality that Uzbekistan possesses – Djeparov, Tursunov, Geynrikh, Shaktskikh and Ahmedov just to name a few. And once again it looked like they would fall at the final hurdle when they started their final round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a loss to Iran at home and a draw to Lebanon.

But since then the White Wolves have managed a 2-2 draw against group favourites Korea and back-to-back wins against Qatar and Iran, the latter at the Azadi Stadium, Iran’s first defeat at their famous home since 2009.

Expect Djeparov, Asian Player of the Year in 2008 and 2011, to be the central figure in their attacking moves, while up forward the experienced Ulugbek Bakayev and Geynrikh will be looking to add to their respective goal tallies.

Meanwhile for the visitors, they will be looking to continue with the form that saw them frustrate Australia at the EAFF Qualifying in December. Their preparation has been far from ideal, however, with interim coach Kim Pan-gon having to defend his plan to have two training sessions per week, instead of the normal one.

“My plan is if there are no games over the weekend, we need two practice sessions a week for the national team,” said the Korean.

“If we have a competitive league, we may only need one training session a week or even fewer. But at the moment, we need more training because the quality of our league is not strong enough.

“Even if we brought Alex Ferguson here but had just one practice session a week, I don’t know that he could do much good.”

Frustrating Kim even further was the fact that the Hong Kong league continued this past weekend, which limits the travel and recovery time for his players.

“The association should have cancelled those games so that we can prepare better,” said captain Chan Wai-ho.

“It’s a big game against Uzbekistan.”

A big game it is indeed, but at home in front of their adoring fans, where they are undefeated in their last six games, it’s tough to go past Uzbekistan.

Date: Wednesday 6 February 2013
Kick Off: 4:00pm (local time)
Venue: Pakhtakor Markaziy Stadium
Head to Head: Played 4 (Uzbekistan 2; Hong Kong 0; Draw 2)
Most Recent Outing: Hong Kong 0-0 Uzbekistan (Hong Kong – 6 September 2006)

Form – Uzbekistan
Azerbaijan 0-0 Uzbekistan, International Friendly, Dubai, 2 February 2013
Iran 0-1 Uzbekistan, FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Tehran, 15 November 2012
Qatar 0-1 Uzbekistan, FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Doha, 16 October 2012
UAE 2-2 Uzbekistan, International Friendly, Dubai, 13 October 2012
Uzbekistan 2-2 Korea Republic, FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Tashkent, 11 September 2012

Form – Hong Kong
Hong Kong 0-4 DPR Korea, East Asian Championships Qualifier, Hong Kong, 9 December 2012
Hong Kong 2-0 Chinese Taipei, East Asian Championships Qualifier, Hong Kong, 7 December 2012
Hong Kong 0-1 Australia, East Asian Championships Qualifier, Hong Kong, 3 December 2012
Guam 1-2 Hong Kong, East Asian Championships Qualifier, Hong Kong, 1 December 2012
Malaysia 1-1 Hong Kong, International Friendly, Kuala Lumpur, 14 November 2012

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