Uzbekistan could make it to the Asian Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2011 if they beat host nation Qatar this Saturday at Al Bayt Stadium.
Qatar overcame Palestine 2-1 from behind in their round of 16 match, and Uzbekistan also won 2-1 against Thailand.
On Tuesday, Qatar faced their first challenge of the tournament but managed to equalize and then take the lead in the second half to win the game.
This win extended their victory streak in the Asian Cup to 11 games, even though it was the first goal they had let in during this year’s tournament.
The only other goal they had conceded recently was during a win over India in November 2023.
For the first time in this tournament, they were trailing in a game since a 2015 loss to Bahrain but quickly recovered against Palestine.
Qatar seems comfortable in tight matches, winning their last three games by just one goal.
On their home ground, Qatar has lost only once in their last nine games, a defeat to Jordan earlier this year.
Uzbekistan also showed resilience on Tuesday, moving into the quarter-finals for the fifth time in six Asian Cups.
Even after conceding an equalizer, they stayed calm and scored the winning goal seven minutes later.
Uzbekistan has kept their opponents to one goal or less in six straight matches, extending their unbeaten streak to 11 games.
Since a loss to the USA in a friendly, Uzbekistan’s offense has improved, scoring more than once in eight of their last 11 games.
Uzbekistan hasn’t lost to an Asian team since the CAFA Nations Cup final loss to Iran.
They have beaten Qatar in all of their last three encounters without conceding a goal.
Ro-Ro played for Qatar for the first time since the first matchday on Tuesday, with Tarek Salman also coming off the bench.
Bassam Al-Rawi and Boualem Khoukhi were the only Qatari players to keep their starting positions, playing in defense with Lucas Mendes.
Hassan Al-Haydos and Akram Afif scored for Qatar, helping them move forward in the tournament.
Uzbekistan missed Igor Sergeyev due to an injury he picked up in their last group match against Australia.
Odiljon Hamrobekov earned his 50th cap for Uzbekistan, Oston Urunov his 25th, and Jaloliddin Masharipov is close to his 60th appearance.
Azizbek Turgunboev and Abbosbek Fayzullaev scored for Uzbekistan, with Fayzullaev’s goal coming right after Thailand tied the game.
Qatar possible starting lineup:
Al-Rawi, Khoukhi, Mendes;
Ro-Ro, Hatem, Al-Haydos, Fatehi, Waad;
Uzbekistan possible starting lineup:
Khusanov, Eshmurodov, Ashurmatov, Nasrullaev;
Turgunboev, Urunov, Kholmatov, Sayfiev;
Prediction: Qatar 1-2 Uzbekistan (extra-time)
While Qatar has shown strong performance in knockout games, they’ve faced significant challenges in this tournament.
Given the consistent performance and ability to handle pressure shown by Uzbekistan, we predict a slight advantage for them, expecting a close match that could extend into extra time.