DOHA - Qatar coach Bruno Metsu was left
dreaming of the Asian Cup title after the hosts thrashed Kuwait
3-0 to reach the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Uzbekistan joined Qatar in the last eight after they grabbed
the point they needed in a 2-2 draw with China to top Group A
with seven points from three matches, one ahead of Qatar with
China third on four and Kuwait last with none.
Nearly 30,000 expectant fans turned out at the Khalifa
Stadium hopeful that Qatar could match their tournament best
performance of a quarter-final place achieved 11 years ago.
Their nerves were eased after just 11 minutes when captain
Bilal Mohammed rose to confidently flick a header home after a
good cross from Sebastian Suria.
The Kuwaitis looked stunned and the hosts doubled their
advantage just five minutes later when Mohamed El Sayed curled a
right foot shot in to the corner of the net as confetti rained
down from the stands.
Substitute Fabio Cesar curled in a late 20-metre free-kick
to add gloss to the victory and leave their French coach Metsu
dreaming of glory.
"Why not?," Metsu replied to reporters when asked if Qatar
can win the tournament.
"We will strive to get the trophy and it is our right to
dream and as you know I am a big dreamer.
"We are very satisfied and happy with this qualification.
For us the Asian Cup starts now. It transfers from a mere
accumulation of points to aiming for the trophy," Metsu said.
The victory completed a big turnaround for Metsu who
suffered heavy criticism after the stumbling 2-0 loss to
Uzbekistan in their opening game.
"I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to all
Qatar officials for their trust in me after losing the first
match against Uzbekistan and they did not resort to actions like
the Saudi Football Federation," Metsu said in reference to the
Saudis sacking Jose Peseiro after their opening loss.
TOO MANY MISTAKES
At the Al Gharafa Stadium, only 3,529 turned out to see
Uzbekistan fall behind after just six minutes in their bid to
reach the last eight for a third consecutive Asian championship.
China midfielder Yu Hai stooped low to head home after a
The Uzbeks struck back, however, with a goal from marauding
centre-half Odil Akhmedov who equalised on the half-hour mark
after another neat passing move.
The Uzbeks took the lead straight after half-time when
striker Alexander Geynrikh fired home from 23 metres but Hao
Junmin hauled China level in the 56th minute with a free-kick to
set up a nervy finale.
China coach Gao Hongbo grew more and more frustrated with
the Uzbek time wasting as the East Asians looked for goals late
on and was sent to the stands by the referee.
"You should ask the referee," China's assistant coach Fu Bo
said of Gao's dismissal.
Winning the group means Uzbekistan will face the second
place team from Group B in the quarter-finals with Japan, Jordan
and Syria the possible opponents but Uzbek coach Vadim Abramov
was not looking ahead.
"I don't care (who we play). All the teams in the next round
are very strong.
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