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Uzbekistan showed grit till the end: Cuper
January 11, 2019
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Sharjah: Uzbekistan head coach Hector Cuper lauded his players after the White Wolves snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory over Oman in an AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Group F tie on Wednesday.

Uzbekistan led 1-0 at the break following Odil Ahmedov’s curling free-kick at the Sharjah Stadium.

Oman, however, clawed their way back into the game when substitute Muhsen Al Ghassani pulled his side level in the 72nd minute.

But with five minutes left, Eldor Shomurodov produced a moment of brilliance after coming on as a second-half substitute to ensure Cuper’s men got their UAE 2019 campaign off to a winning start.

“It was a very long match for us, Oman were very good. They are the champions of the Gulf Cup and they controlled possession very well. Hence we came prepared,” said Cuper.

“The two halves were completely different. We played much better in the first half than in the second, which was controlled by Oman and we couldn’t find space to operate. Moreover, both teams had enough chances after the score was 1-1 but generally we had a good game.”

“My players were not tired, they were slightly nervous during the game, especially at the start. It was not my decision to go on the defensive in the second half but Oman controlled the match and were able to score the equaliser.”

Despite conceding a goal, we still had the desire to win the match. We realised we needed to change the tactics to win the game. My players did not surrender, they gave their all and sacrificed till the end.

“We will play Turkmenistan in our next match and we know their style of play. It’s not going to be an easy match but we will be ready for them.”

Disappointed by the result, Oman head coach Pim Veerbek blamed the absence of luck after seeing his side concede two goals in their opening match in Group F.

“We were not lucky in the first half, two corner kicks, open chances, reflexes of the goalkeeper, so you need a little luck. It’s important in games like this,”

“We were trying to find out what the weak spots were of the opponents,” said Veerbek.

“Uzbekistan scored from a free-kick, that’s unlucky. The goal came from a set-piece and not open play.

“In the second half, we played very well and it was a good came. We had plenty of attacks and saw a lot of the ball and scored a good goal,” Veerbek added.

“You should at least reward yourself to at least take home a point or fight for the three points. But you should never ever lose that game. So we have to recover from this loss very soon.”

“That’s the good part about the AFC Asian Cup, you have three days to prepare and then you go again. I love to play against Japan. They’re the best team in Asia. Let’s show them that we have a very good team,” the Omani coach added.

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