Uzbekistan striker Ulugbek Bakaev made himself a household name in his homeland on Friday, according to manager Vadim Abramov.
The country qualified for the Asian Cup semi-finals for the first time with a 2-1 win over Jordan, and Abramov spoke highly of Bakaev, whose brace of goals sealed a groundbreaking result for his nation.
“I gave him a chance and he scores two goals. He has made history and everybody now knows his name in Uzbekistan,” Abramov said.
“In Uzbekistan, I think everybody is very, very happy because we are going to the next round but I also think that people can see now that Uzbekistan can play good football.”
Bakaev scored twice in the space of three second-half minutes after he was introduced to the game just after the break, and Uzbekistan will face either Australia or Iraq for a spot in the final of Asia’s premier soccer tournament.
Jordan manager Adnan Hamad was proud of his side’s effort to push Uzbekistan all the way in their loss, but was disappointed with the lapse in focus that saw his side concede two quick goals.
“There was very little concentration at the start of the second-half, some players were affected by knocks but this is football. But I’m happy with my team and I believe they have a good future ahead of them,” Hamad said.
“We don’t have an incisive forward with pace. The formation that we had was the best I could put together according to my expectations and we reached the quarter-finals.”
Hamad signalled his intention to remain in the top job with the Jordanian national team for the next three years, as he prepares for bigger and better things for the team.
“The next stage for us is to prepare for qualification for the World Cup (in Brazil),” he said.
“I have full confidence in my team. My contract expires in April but I’m very happy working with Jordan and the players that have served their country well.”