Uzbekistan has claimed a worthy consolation for their efforts in Japan these Championships, defeating Kyrgyzstan 5-3 in the playoff for third place at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium today.
Two first half goals from Abdulla Buriev and one from Anvar Mamedov saw the Uzbeks race to an ultimately unassailable 3-0 half time lead, before Nikolay Odushev and Buriev again secured the Uzbeks’ win with strikes in the second.
Kyrgyzstan ’s gallant replies came from Andrei Pestryakov, who netted a brace, and Nurjan Djetybaev.
The Uzbeks triumph, their first ever third placed Championships finish, was no less than what they deserved after their performances in Osaka over the past week.
Ghastly at times but astounding at others, Uzbekistan’s podium finish adds further credence to their standing in not only Asian, but world futsal.
One year short of commencing qualifiers for the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Championships in Brazil, where Asia has been allocated three places, the confidence the Uzbeks will have gained from such a finish will hold them in good stead when Asia’s elite futsal nations meet again next year in South East Asia.
Kyrgyzstan, perhaps reeling from their epic semi final performance against Japan , lacked the energy and discipline that earned them so many admirers just 22 hours earlier.
Elimination at the semi final stage, followed by defeat in the playoff for third place is not an unfamiliar scenario for the Kyrgyz, who have suffered an identical fate at the past two Championships.
"We know a lot about Uzbekistan because we’ve played them many times before, we know their weak points but unfortunately that wasn’t enough for us today," said Kyrgyzstan coach Nurtazin Djetybaev.
"We will use today’s match as a learning experience for future meetings between ourselves and Uzbekistan .
"Our players were physically and mentally tired after last night, and as coach this was a difficult obstacle to overcome.
"We played aggressively, we did everything that we’ve done in practice and all of our players played their best, but unfortunately we didn’t win."
Despite the loss, Kyrgyzstan ’s futsal reputation has received another significant boost at these Championships.
Consecutive Championship semi final appearances in Vietnam, Uzbekistan and now Japan has underlined the Kyrgyz’ pedigree, while in key players Pestryakov, Djetybaev and Daniar Abdyraimov, who between them scored twelve of the Kyrgyz’ twenty goals in Amagazaki and Osaka, the central Asian heavyweights have personnel belonging to the highest echelon of Asian futsal players.
However, the influence of the aforementioned three, and a second half played almost entirely in the Uzbekistan defensive half with ’keeper Nikolay Shamonin withdrawn at the expense of attacker Abdyraimov, was ultimately unable to affect a change in fortunes for the men in red on this occasion.
"After seeing Japan’s game yesterday against Kyrgyzstan , we thought that it would be a difficult game and it was a difficult game, but we performed well enough to win," said Uzbekistan assistant coach Pavel Bezglyadnov.
"One quarter of our team members are in their thirties and we don’t really have too many young players.
"Against IR Iran, we used our younger players and it didn’t really work, so today we used our experienced players and we won.
"This shows that in the future, we need to have our older players teach our young players some experience so to make Uzbekistan stronger in the future."
Uzbek marksman Buriev’s hat-trick sees the 33-year-old finish the tournament with eleven goals – more than half his team’s total.
In fact, such was Uzbekistan ’s inconsistency in front of goal at these Championships; their entire tournament total was only two goals more than their accumulation from just the group stage in Tashkent last year.
Positively though, for Uzbekistan to claim their podium finish despite a string of contradictory performances augurs very well for their chances moving forward.
Veteran Buriev’s haul, combined with noteworthy contributions from first choice goalkeeper Rustam Umarov and captain Bahodir Ahmedov were integral to the Uzbeks success at these Championships, while 17-year-old Farruh Farhutdinov looms as an outstanding prospect for future campaigns.