Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - Page 18 News List

2014 World Cup: Uzbekistan coach to quit after qualification disaster

WORLD CUP JINX?Mirdjalal Kasimov’s ‘White Wolves’ failed to qualify for the World Cup after a dramatic game, eight years after he missed World Cup action as a player

AFP, TASHKENT

Uzbekistan manager Mirdjalal Kasimov said he planned to step down after his World Cup jinx continued in a dramatic playoff marked by a floodlight failure and a marathon penalty shootout.

Kasimov, robbed as a player by contentious officiating when Uzbekistan last reached the Asian eliminator in 2005, was again left heartbroken following an extraordinary loss to Jordan in Tashkent.

The former star midfielder said it was time for a new start for the “White Wolves,” who missed out on automatic qualification only by goal difference and squandered an early lead on Tuesday.

“I accept responsibility and I will discuss with the management about my retirement from this post,” Kasimov said, according to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Web site.

“The team should begin preparation for the next campaign right now as we did not achieve good results during these qualifiers. I think all the players gave their best on the field, but now the national team needs to change,” he added.

After the teams, locked at 2-2 on aggregate after two legs, went to extra time, the lights went out at Pakhtakor Stadium, causing an 18-minute delay.

When the clock ticked down to the penalty shootout, the sides traded no fewer than 19 spot-kicks before Anzur Ismailov’s decisive miss handed Jordan a 9-8 win.

“I must apologize to the fans. I must also thank my players because they battled to the end,” Kasimov said. “We wanted to celebrate the victory with the fans, but we were unable to achieve our target.”

The night had started promisingly for Uzbekistan, but Ismailov’s fifth-minute opener was canceled out by Saeed Murjan for a 1-1 draw at full-time, echoing the result of last week’s first leg.

Jordan now go into a further playoff against the fifth-placed South American side — currently Uruguay, with two games to play — for their first-ever World Cup spot next year in Brazil.

Hossam Hassan’s men can count themselves lucky to progress after being second-best for most of the tense evening in Tashkent and then looking content to sit back and wait for penalties.

“I want to say thanks to my players as I am very pleased with the way they played,” said former Egypt striker Hassan, who played at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

“We knew before the game that Uzbekistan are a good team, but we believed that it would be possible before the match and this helped us achieve an important victory,” he added.

Uzbek coach Kasimov was in the side in the 2005 playoffs, when they had a successful penalty against Bahrain chalked off for encroachment and were wrongly awarded a free-kick instead of a retake.

Their eventual 1-0 win in Tashkent was then surprisingly annulled by FIFA over the refereeing error and Bahrain drew the replay 1-1 before edging the tie on away goals.

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