Igor Sergeev was the hero for Uzbekistan against North Korea on Saturday evening, but his coach is still demanding more from the 2011 Asian Cup semi-finalists… (日本語版はこちらです)
Uzbekistan lived up to their billing as one of the fancied sides at the Asian Cup on Saturday, comfortably sweeping North Korea aside despite torrential rain lashing down on the stadium for most of the second half.
It may only have finished 1-0 in Sydney, but Mirdjalal Kasimov’s side were the far more accomplished outfit, and could have added more goals if they had brought their shooting boots with them.
“Of course we want to score many goals in the game but it was the first match and we missed many chances in the first and second half,” Kasimov told reporters after the match.
“We will work on it and I think in the next games we will improve.”
Igor Sergeev was the matchwinner against the Chollima, and is steadily establishing himself as one of the strikers to watch in Asia. His 62nd-minute header was the 21-year-old’s fourth goal in his last five competitive matches, and his coach believes he could lead the line for the Uzbeks for some time.
“I think he has a great future for club and national team but he should not stop on this level. He should always work hard but I think he can do it and be one of the best in Uzbekistan.”
Sergeev has previous when it comes to dominating the scoring charts and was the top scorer at the 2012 AFC Under 19 championship with seven goals.
“Of course I would like to be the striker of the tournament, but the main thing is that the team wins,” the Pakhtakor Tashkent player told reporters post-match. “If my partner is in a better position than me then I will pass him the ball, but if I have a chance to score then I will do it. Of course I like to score, and it helps the team and myself.”
As well as demanding more accuracy in front of goal from his players Kasimov stressed that he would also have liked his team to dominate possession and hassle the opposition more, although conceded that the terrible weather conditions hampered the Uzbek’s ability to do that against North Korea.
“You cannot press for the whole 90 minutes, even if you are 100% ready. This is football and this is a normal situation. Maybe one reason is that today we had very heavy rain. Our team likes to control the ball and there were situations where we were not able to [do that].“
Uzbekistan made it to the semifinals at the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar, although they were handed a 6-0 hammering by Australia in that game. The early signs this time around are promising though, and when I asked if he believed the team had the potential to improve on last time’s showing Kasimov allowed himself a small smile and answered, “If we score many goals and if luck will be on our side, of course.”