Poor results, a managerial merry-go-round and the loss of their very own "David Beckham" have all put pressure on Uzbekistan ahead of the Asian Cup Finals.
Uzbekistan shook up the region when they won the Asian Games title at their first attempt in 1994, but those heroics in Hiroshima remain the highlight of the Uzbek football canon.
The Uzbeks flirted with a historic trip to last year’s World Cup Finals but lost out after bizarre refereeing forced them to play three ties instead of two in their Asian qualifying playoff against Bahrain.
Japanese official Toshimitsu Yoshida ruled out a successful Uzbek penalty because of encroachment by their own players. But instead of ordering a second kick, handed the ball to Bahrain.
The eventual 1-0 victory was scrubbed and, after the replay and second leg, the aggrieved Uzbeks were edged out on away goals.
Worse, the defeat also marked the retirement of talismanic midfielder Mirjalal Kasimov, the "Beckham of Uzbekistan" – or simply, "Uz-Beckham" – whose lethal set-pieces had been a cornerstone of the team’s success.
Rocky times followed with Uzbekistan, despite being Asia’s fifth-ranked team, needing final qualifying to reach this year’s tournament.
The acknowledged kings of Central Asia also finished just third out of four in this year’s regional Alma TV Cup, humiliatingly behind fierce local rivals Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
Disappointing results have come almost as frequently as new coaches, with England’s Bobby Houghton among five occupants of the hot-seat since Uzbekistan’s quarter-final appearance at the last Asian Cup in 2004.
Valeri Nepomniatchi called it quits despite winning the berth at this year’s tournament, apparently under pressure for the lacklustre qualifying campaign.
However, Uzbekistan remains a tough proposition and will fancy their chances of qualifying from Group C, which has China, Iran and Malaysia.
New coach Rauf Inileev can call on a host of foreign-based stars, including Dynamo Kiev marksman Maxim Shatskikh and Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Vladimir Maminov.
Much of the rest of the side is drawn from Pakhtakor Tashkent, the dominant force in the domestic league.
One of the main problems for Uzbekistan may be swapping the arid conditions of their largely desert, landlocked country for the strength-sapping humidity of Kuala Lumpur.
But Inileev, speaking on a recent trip to KL, said that he was confident of finishing in the group’s top two despite recent defeats by South Korea and China in friendly matches. Last time around, Uzbekistan crashed out on penalties in the quarter-finals, also to Bahrain.