The 2015 AFC Asian Cup witnessed a unique event. That’s right, for the first time since the tournament kicked off, there was a game that didn’t have a conclusive result after 90 minutes. South Korea versus Uzbekistan has the ‘honor’ of being that match as it finished 0-0 in normal time. However the 0-0 score line does not begin to indicate the action and the goalmouth drama witnessed in this game as the pair kicked off the knock-out phase of the competition.
In the night’s other match the hosts Australia faced a potentially tricky tie against China. The Chinese were not overawed by the occasion but they fell to a Tim Cahill brace as the Socceroos kept their hopes alive of winning the Asian Cup on home soil.
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South Korea 2 – 0 Uzbekistan (after extra time)
Ever heard of Maksim Shatskikh? He was recruited by Dynamo Kyiv shortly after they sold Andrei Shevchenko to AC Milan. For all intents and purposes he had a relatively successful spell there scoring 97 goals in 215 league appearances for the Ukrainian club breaking the 20 goal mark twice during his nine seasons at the club.
He is also Uzbekistan’s leading international goal scorer scoring 34 goals in just 61 internationals. Shatskikh bade farewell to international football on the 29th of May last year.
So, why mention him? The simple reason being that if Uzbekistan had a striker approaching the class of Shatskikh they would have probably booked a spot in the semifinals of the Asian Cup. He certainly would have done better with the chances that fell the way of Sanjar Tursunov and Lutfulla Turaev.
Uzbekistan were not afraid of taking the game to South Korea and Mirjalol Qosimov’s side’s desire to push forward contributed to an open and entertaining game of football. Once more Sardor Rashidov was impressive for the White Wolves with his pace and trickery causing problems down the South Korean left flank. Uzbekistan did have to contend with the early loss of Odil Ahmedov who was substituted because of injury.
That’s not to say that it was one-way-traffic because South Korea had put together neat moves too only to be denied by an inspired Ignatiy Nesterov who produced crucial saves to stop both Son Heung-min and Lee Jeong-hyeop. The Taeguk Warriors struggled to get to grips with the game initially especially in the first half when passes went astray. Uli Stielike’s side raised their performance in the second half though and slowly but surely exerted wrested control of the match as they began to complete their passes and shift the game up into Uzbekistan’s half.