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Aussies have orange glow for World Cup qualifiers

SoccerNews in World Cup 10 Sep 2008


Australia kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign on Wednesday looking to build on the historic friendly 2-1 victory over the Netherlands.

The Socceroos did it the hard way on Saturday, coming from behind thanks to goals from Harry Kewell and Josh Kennedy, to record the best possible fillip ahead of the tricky Uzbekistan tie.

It was a result that delighted Australia's Dutch coach Pim Verbeek.

“We're very pleased with the result, but I'm more pleased with the organisation, the way they played, especially in the first half,” he said.

“It's not about the result today because it's all about the result on Wednesday.”

Meanwhile Uzbekistan, the strongest side among the former Soviet republics in the Asian Football Confederation, suffered a shock 3-0 defeat in their World Cup qualifying opener against Qatar on Saturday.

That result leaves them seeking a must-win position ahead of the match against the top seeds in their group.

But the Central Asians, who won the Asian title in 1994, still believe they are capable of claiming one of the group's two automatic qualifying berths.

“It will be really tough to battle against strong rivals in the fourth qualifying round,” said Uzbekistan coach Rauf Inliev, who last year was named Asian Coach of the Year.

“But we're not going to be just points suppliers. We are serious. We have firm intention to gain a pass into the World Cup finals and we will do our best to fulfill our task.”

The Uzbeki team leaders confirmed their manager's intentions saying they were ready for a serious battle for a place in the 2010 World Cup finals.

“I believe we still can achieve a success,” Uzbekistan's team's first-line goalkeeper Ignaty Nesterov said. “We all will do everything depending on us to reach the World Cup finals.”

“We set up a goal that we all want to achieve,” the team's playmaker Server Dzheparov added. “It's a pride to play in the World Cup finals and we all want to be proud of ourselves.”

On Wednesday Uzbekistan, who missed all three of their previous attempts to reach the World Cup finals, would likely form a full-strength squad spearheaded by their top striker Maxim Shatskikh, Dynamo Kiev marksman.

Dzheparov, the skipper of country's flagship side Bunyodkor (former Kuruvchi) also in-form, would likely serve creative duties in the central areas, while Hayrulla Karimov and Ilkhom Suyunov would form the backbone of defence, conducted by 'keeper Nesterov.

Bunyodkor, who recently signed Brazilian veteran star Rivaldo, are financially backed by the joint Uzbeki-Swiss oil-gas giant Zeromax.

In domestic league they are challenged by the country's oldest side Pakhtakor, who represented Uzbekistan in the Soviet league and Neftchi Fergana.

Meanwhile, Uzbeki football federation president Mirabor Usmanov tried to boost his team's morale announcing cash incentives for the national side.

The official said that the team would get 300 million sums (about 300,000 dollars) for every win at the World Cup fourth qualifying stage, adding that the players would receive very pleasant surprise if they clinch a pass to the World Cup finals.


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