Uzbekistan ready for anything, says coach

July 21, 2007

JAKARTA, July 21 (Reuters) - Uzbekistan coach Rauf Inileyev is ready for anything in Sunday's Asian Cup quarter-final against Saudi Arabia - from penalty kicks to Samba style soccer.

The Uzbeks had been given little chance of advancing from Group C, but after a narrow defeat to powerhouse Iran they thumped co-hosts Malaysia 5-0 and dumped China out of the competition with a 3-0 thrashing in the last group game.

That sequence of results showed there was no such thing as certainties in football and that every game had the potential for surprise, said Inileyev.

'In Group C we had China, one of the strongest teams in Asia, and they played almost an English style of football,' he told a news conference on Saturday.

'We also had Iran, another strong team, who have a German style.

'Saudi Arabia have a Brazilian coach, so they must play a Brazilian kind of football!'

Uzbekistan have never gone beyond the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup, but Inileyev said now was the time to do it and being the underdogs against three-times winners Saudi Arabia did not trouble him.

'There is a first time for everything in life,' he said.

'We are a young country but our ambitions are high. In Group C people were saying China and Iran were the favourites, but Uzbekistan proved them wrong.'

Inileyev said the last eight of the competition provided a 'cup game' mentality, where draws did not exist. There would be a winner on Sunday, in 90 minutes, extra-time or the dreaded penalty kicks.

'At this stage of the Asian Cup, penalty kicks will be one of the key factors in qualifying for the next round,' he said.

'But they are a lottery.'