Tashkent: Uzbekistan U-17 football team’s coach Dilshod Nuraliyev is hoping for the young Uzbeks to replicate their fighting spirit during the title winning AFC U-16 Championship 2012 campaign in October’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE.
Uzbekistan had far from an ideal start in their continental campaign back in September 2012 and only a late goal conceded by China against India ensured their progression in the knock-out stages.
But Uzbekistan held their nerves to beat Korea Republic and then hosts Iran in the high-scoring semi-final eventually winning the title by battering Japan in the penalty shootout in Pas Stadium of Tehran.
Having impressed at the world stage in age-group competitions before, Nuraliyev is asking the young Uzbeks to take inspiration from the past and show the entire world the progress they have made in age-group football.
“Our former squad did fairly well at Mexico 2011,” Nuraliyev said.
“And we are hoping to build on that success this time around. Our U-20 side’s brilliant performances at Turkey 2013 came as a further boost to not only us, but all our junior sides. We believe in ourselves and we are capable of achieving our goal.”
Two years ago the U-17 side managed to sneak into the quarter-finals and the same batch progressed into the quarter-finals of the recently concluded FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey where they suffered a 4-0 defeat to eventual winners France.
“We have a psychological coach who is responsible for working on mentality,” Nuraliyev explained.
“The rest of the coaching staff help instill fighting spirit into the players’ minds in training. And we ask our boys to play with aplomb.
“It was natural the youngsters were under big pressure going into the AFC U-16 Championship. We missed loads of chances against our opponents during the group campaign and the players didn’t show their best.
“But after sealing qualification I told them to keep their cool and they did just that to fulfill our mission. I hope our boys can continue to display these characteristics in the World Cup. They are the best crop of talent in our country and they want to prove that,” he added.
Uzbekistan will be representing Asia alongside Japan, Iran, Iraq and hosts UAE in the U-17 World Cup.