DOHA - Australia are a good team but do
not inspire the kind of fear playing against five-time world
champions Brazil would do, Uzbekistan's confident coach Vadim
Abramov said ahead of their Asian Cup semi-final.
Abramov, who predicted before the tournament began that his
side, ranked 108th in the world by FIFA, would lift the title
retained that early self-assurance when he spoke to reporters
ahead of the game.
Dressed in a fetching baby-blue suit he again mumbled
confidently under his bushy moustache before Tuesday's last four
clash at the Khalifa Stadium.
"Australia is a good team, but they're also not Brazil,"
said Abramov, whose team were knocked out at the quarter-final
stage in the last two tournaments, at his pre-match press
conference on Monday.
"My players can beat Australia. Japan beat Argentina (1-0 in
a friendly in October), why can't Uzbekistan beat Australia?"
Abramov's positive approach seems to have rubbed off on his
players as the somber looking, rampaging central-defender Odil
Akhmedov also predicted an Uzbekistan win.
"We are not going to stop here. We are going to go to the
final" he said, following a series of tidy passing displays
which have seen them score two goals in each of the four matches
they have played.
Australia, in contrast, have built their run to a first
semi-final appearance on a tight defence, marshalled by Asian
Player of the Year Sasa Ognenovski and captain Lucas Neill.
Australia, the highest ranked team here, 26th worldwide on
FIFA's ladder, have only leaked one goal so far.
"They are used to scoring two goals in each game but it will
change in the next one," Australian boss Holger Oseick told
The German coach, who took charge of the Socceroos in
August, smiled when he was told of Abramov's confident
"I can underline what he said because if he had any doubts
in his team he would be a bad coach.
"I can assure you I am of the same opinion but in reverse. I
think we are strong enough to go through and I am confident in
The Australians have been wary of all their opponents in
Qatar this time after a disappointing showing on their debut in
the tournament four years ago when they lost to Iraq, drew with
Oman and exited in the last eight after being accused of over-
Their displays in Doha may have lacked the attacking flair
of their opponents but they have eked their way through to the
last four with narrow 1-0 wins over Bahrain in the group stage
and holders Iraq in the quarter-finals after extra time.
"There's a kind of excitement about the game, it's going to
be an interesting and challenging one.
"We know what we can do. We've had our talks, we have our
plan. I know our boys are in position to transfer everything
onto the pitch," Osieck said.
Three-times champions Japan face twice winners South Korea
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