Dubai: Uzbekistan will take on neighbours Turkmenistan to decide their fate for a spot in the Round of 16 from Group F when they play at Shabab Al Ahli Dubai’s Rashid Stadium 2019 AFC Asian Cup on Sunday.
With winless Oman taking on mighty Japan in Abu Dhabi earlier in the day, it will down to the match between the two Central Asian rivals to see which of them can book their place in the knockout stages with a game still in hand. Uzbekistan had dispatched off Gulf champions Oman 2-1 in their opener in Sharjah last week, while Japan had to dig in deep for a 3-2 win over Turkmenistan.
Sunday’s two results will decide the fate of all four teams as a win could keep them afloat till the third and final group encounters on January 17.
A win for Uzbekistan and Japan will see them book their spots for the knockouts ahead of Turkmenistan and Oman, However, a win for Turkmenistan and Oman will keep both teams alive to decide their own fate when Japan face Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan square off against Oman in the final round of group matches on January 17 [Thursday].
Going into Sunday’s encounter, Uzbekistan have a 3-0 record against their neighbours in the three recent meetings so far. During the home and away round of qualifying to the 2002 Fifa World Cup held way back in April-May 2001, Uzbekistan walked away with a solitary-goal win, and then hammered their neighbours 5-2 in the away fixture in Asghabat. The two teams also met in the preliminary rounds of the 2004 AFC Asian Cup in China and that too resulted with a 1-0 win for the Whites Wolves to keep their record intact.