Uzbekistan coach Mirdjalal Kasimov rued his team’s missed opportunities after a gritty 1-0 win over North Korea.
Igor Sergeev’s 62nd-minute header was the difference-maker at the Stadium Australia, with just over 12,000 fans in attendance for Sydney’s first of seven Asian Cup fixtures.
“We wanted to score many goals, but it was the first match and we missed many chances in both halves,” Kasimov told reporters after the final whistle. “The first match is always tough and there was a bit of pressure, but I’m happy we won.”
Kasimov praised scorer Sergeev, the match MVP who has scored in four out of Uzbekistan’s last five competitive matches.
“I think he has a great future with club and country,” the coach said of the Pakhtakor striker, “But he should not stop at this level and should keep working hard.
I think he can become one of the best in Uzbekistan.”
Sergeev himself was humble in front of reporters, saying: “It doesn’t matter who scores, the main thing is that we won and I’m very happy about that.
“I’d like to thank my teammates because they fought until the very end.”
Uzbekistan will next face China, who also won their match against Saudi Arabia with a 1-0 scoreline, on January 14 in Brisbane.