China v Uzbekistan: Uzbek captain Server Djeparov calls for more goals

The clash at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane will pit Group B’s two winners from the opening round against each other with both sides having won their first match of the tournament 1-0.

If either team wins they will be almost certain of advancing to the quarter-finals.

China stunned Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the Queensland capital on Saturday just after Uzbekistan edged out North Korea by the same scoreline in Sydney, but the Uzbeks were left frustrated after wasting a raft of goal-scoring opportunities.

The central Asian nation took 24 shots against North Korea but only five were on target, with striker Igor Sergeev scoring the only goal.

Uzbekistan captain Server Djeparov conceded it was not ideal.

“We did not play well but we got a good result, that is what matters,” he said.

Djeparov added: “We had a lot of chances. We would have liked to have scores two or three goals but we are happy with one.”

Uzbekistan scored an average of two goals per game up until their semi-final exit at the hands of Australia at the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar.

Alexander Geynrikh was Uzbekistan’s leading scorer four years ago with three goals but he has not been selected by coach Mirjalol Qosimov to play in Australia.

Ulugbek Bakayev, who scored two goals in Qatar, has also been left behind, meaning midfielders Odil Ahmedov and Djeparov appear to be Qosimov’s most reliable sources of goals.

Both Ahmedov and Djeparov scored twice in 2011, although Sergeev has an impressive scoring record for his national team with five goals in nine appearances.

Forward Yu Hai and goalkeeper Wang Dalei led the way for China in their win over Saudi Arabia.

Yu scored his team’s goal with a deflected free-kick after Wang had saved a penalty but the biggest hero in China is Australian ball boy Stephen White.

Wang turned to White just before he faced Naif Hazazi’s spot-kick and asked the 12-year-old which way he should dive, before stopping the ball with his legs to keep the score at 0-0.

China impressed with their energy in midfield and their speed up front through Yu, Hao Junmin and Ji Xiang, and Alain Perrin’s men will be aiming to reach the knockout stages of an Asian Cup for the first time since they hosted the tournament in 2004 and finished second.

In 2011, Uzbekistan drew 2-2 with China in the group stage with Yu, Hao, Ahmedov and Geynrikh hitting the back of the net.

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