Doha, 2 February 2024 - Coach of the Uzbekistan national team Srecko Katanec stressed his confidence in his players to deliver the performance required to overcome champions Qatar in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 on Saturday at the Al Bayt Stadium.
And after impressing at the current edition of the continental showpiece, Katanec is putting his faith in his players to deliver another strong performance when they take on Marquez Lopes' hosts at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, the AFC website reported.
"My job is to prepare the team as best I can," said the Slovenian. "We are together two-and-a-half years and if they don't know how to play now it will be wrong, but I'm confident they know. They know we have to be organised.
"All coaches are smarter when we win, but we depend on the players, on their qualities and the game tomorrow is starting from 18:30 for two hours and they have to be in good shape.
"We reach already a nice position, we didn't lose, we have conceded less goals so they have to worry, like we have to be worried." Katanec praised the performance of Diyor Kholmatov in the win over Thailand in the Round of 16 as the 21-year-old Pakhtakor midfielder made his first start at international level and insists he is maintaining his approach of not looking beyond the next match.
"When we started this Asian Cup I said I know the situation, that we go game by game," he said. "Tomorrow is another game. We did well, but it was what it was, so we will try to do our best.
"We are good. I have a nice group of players. They have to be confident, we reached (the quarter-finals) and tomorrow, it's the game. So go ahead. We have nothing to lose, give everything and I'll be satisfied with the team." Meanwhile, Odiljon Xamrobekov said that Uzbekistan are well positioned to defeat Qatar in their AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 quarter-final clash on Saturday.
"Tomorrow, we play against the defending champions and they have the advantage of playing in front of their own fans. They boast strong individual players, but our team is fully prepared and ready for the fight," said the 27-year-old Pakhtakor midfielder.
"The Qatari players we are up against are highly skilled. However, we are committed to giving our best effort, pushing hard on the field, and I'm optimistic that we will successfully achieve our target.
"Our team is united, fully committed and there's a strong camaraderie among us. Each player brings his own unique strengths to the team, making us a formidable and well-rounded unit." The Al Bayt Stadium is expected to be filled to the brim but Xamrobekov said Uzbekistan will not be intimidated.
"If the stadium is full, players usually thrive in such conditions. While it may provide an advantage to the opponents, it won't deter us as we are used to this kind of atmosphere when we play at home at the Bunyodkor Stadium.
"We are determined to give everything on the pitch and play our best regardless of the circumstances."