LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS* in DUBAI: Uzbekistan have never reached a FIFA World Cup as an independent country. But since the U-17 World Cup two years ago they are on their way towards a bright future.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 Uzbekistan became independent and began to create its own history. In football they have never reached a FIFA World Cup. But now things are beginning to change.
This summer they reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013. Two years ago they reached the same phase in the U-17 world Cup in Mexico and on Monday Uzbekistan goes up against Honduras in the second round of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2013.
“We have a very big interest for this tournament [in Uzbekistan] because this is our second World Cup this year,” said Uzbekistan coach Dilshod Nuraliev in a press conference. “All the matches of Uzbekistan are live on TV. We feel responsibility and are happy to be here.”
Jamshid Boltaboev was Uzbekistan’s hero in the last group match when he scored the winning goal at 2-1 against Croatia. That goal secured second place behind Morocco in the group and knocked Croatia out of the tournament.
Nuraliev has high hopes for the next coming weeks. He said: “For this tournament I expected a lot because for us it is not only about to participate in this tournament and an experience, we also have a goal and I hope we will reach it.”
Boltaboev is suspended and will miss the Honduras tie but Nuraliev believes he and the rest of the squad have a big chance to become stars in the future.
First, however, they have to focus on how to beat Honduras. Nuraliev said: “I think the strength of my team is the atmosphere, they are united and their attitude together is the main advantage.”
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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