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Server up for Uzbeks

sports Updated: Jan 12, 2011 23:49 IST
Agencies/ HT Correspondent
Asian Cup quarter-finals

Uzbekistan became the first side to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals when they beat Kuwait 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to a superb strike from former Asian player-of-the-year Server Djeparov.

With the game locked at 1-1 with 25 minutes remaining and Kuwait threatening, Djeparov took advantage of the space afforded to him on the edge of the area to fire a first-time, left-foot shot which curled away from a diving Yaqoub Al Taher in the Kuwait goal.

The result put Uzbekistan on six points in Group A after their second win of the tournament and left Kuwait on the brink of an early exit.

An entertaining second-half was in mark contrast to a drab first, which was witnessed by just 3,481 fans at the 22,000 capacity Al Gharafa Stadium on another chilly early evening in Doha.

The Uzbeks enjoyed the best of the first-half, producing a number of neat, short passing moves but, lacking pace in attack, they came to nothing.

They took the lead, however, four minutes before the interval in fortunate circumstances when Maksim Shatskikh's 22-metre free kick took a big deflection off a team mate.

The 32-year-old struck a curling right-foot effort which struck the back of a ducking Azizbek Haydarov, who was making a nuisance of himself in the defensive wall, which diverted the ball past a befuddled Al Taher.

Kuwait began the second half in a much brighter, energetic fashion with substitute Hamad Nayef going very close with a glancing header within 90 seconds of the restart before earning his team a penalty minutes later.

The dimunitive striker was brought down by a needless challenge from Anzur Ismailov on the edge of the area and Bader Al Mutwa sent Uzbek keeper Ignatiy Nesterov the wrong way from the penalty spot.

The equaliser brought the game to life and both sides had chances to take the lead before Djeparov, who was always a threat playing just off striker Alexander Geynrikh, struck the wiJner which was deserving of a bigger audience.

Hosts Qatar were scheduled to play China in the other Group A match later on Wednesday with the east Asians able to join the Uzbeks in the last eight with victory.

IMG officials to meet india coach Houghton
A delegation of four officials from IMG will reach Doha on Thursday to meet India coach Bob Houghton and Colin Toal, the director of youth development.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das and Subrata Dutta, an AIFF vice-president, will also be present at a meeting scheduled for the same day, it was learnt. The delegates will see an India training session and Friday's match against Bahrain.
The AIFF has signed a R 700 crore 15-year-deal with Reliance-IMG last month to develop Indian football.

AFC summons Qatar, Iraq & North Korea
Hosts Qatar will join North Korea and Iraq in facing an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) disciplinary committee for failing to put forward a player for their pre-match Asian Cup news conferences, the tournament director said on Thursday.

AFC official Tokuaki Suzuki said the verdict would be announced on Friday or Saturday. The teams could face a
warning about their actions or a possible fine.