AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Kuwait 2022: Uzbekistan stay perfect
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- Uzbekistan defeated Bahrain 6-1 to finish their AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Kuwait 2022 Group B campaign with a perfect record of three wins on Saturday.
Uzbekistan, who had secured their knockout stage spot prior to the match, hardly put a foot wrong against Bahrain and will now face hosts Kuwait in the quarter-finals, the-afc.com reported.
With Tajikistan having booked the second knockout stage spot prior to the match, Bahrain were playing for a resounding finish against group winners Uzbekistan.
However, after an early exchange of blows, it was Uzbekistan who took the lead in the sixth minute when Dilshod Rakhmatov intercepted a pass and relayed it to Elbek Tulkinov (pictured below), who evaded two defenders before beating Sayed Mohammed Abbas.
Bahrain responded by forcing Uzbekistan into a more defensive formation with Abbas taking an active role with his forward positioning.
They should have equalised in the 13th minute off a counter-attack, which ended with Ali Abdulla in the box with only the keeper to beat, but the No. 7 forward sent his shot over the bar.
Bahrain’s strategy was to intermittently send on Jassam Salah to replace Abbas as the power player, but the plan eventually backfired in the final 15 seconds of the first half when Uzbekistan’s Akbar Usmonov (pictured below, No 11) dispossessed the keeper, before sending the ball into the unguarded goalmouth.
Bahrain continued to keep Abbas up front and Uzbekistan punished them for their aggression again in the 22nd minute when an exchange of passes between Ikhtiyor Ropiev and Mashrab Adilov ended with the latter tapping in their third goal.
Shakhram Fakhriddinov then fired past goalkeeper Sayed Fadhel in the 26th minute, with Khusniddin Nishonov adding his name on the scoresheet a minute later, courtesy of Tulkinov’s assist.
Five turned to six at the half-hour mark when a series of quick one-touch passes baffled the Bahraini defence, giving Usmanov a tap in.
Bahrain, to their credit, kept fighting with head coach Marcelino da Silva switching up their power player with Abdulla coming on instead, and their persistence bore fruit in the 35th minute with Uzbekistan goalkeeper Rustam Umarov beaten for the first time through Ammar Hassan’s close-range strike.
That, however, was a mere consolation as Uzbekistan advanced to the quarter-finals as genuine contenders for the title.
In the quarterfinals, Uzbekistan will face hosts Kuwait.