MELBOURNE, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Uzbekistan coach Mirdjadal Kasimov could summon up only one explanation for his side’s Asian Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of South Korea on Thursday -- dirty, rotten bad luck.
The Uzbeks were looking to reach the last four of the continental championship for the second straight tournament and gave as good as they got for much of a breathless encounter at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium.
Ultimately, though, after a goalless first 90 minutes in which both sides missed a hatful of chances, they succumbed to two Son Heung-min goals in extra time.
”This game looked like the final,“ Kasimov told reporters. ”It was a very beautiful game but we were unlucky today.
“Because of our bad luck, we are very disappointed but we fought until the end of the game. We could have had many goals but luck was not on our side.”
South Korea are something of a bogey team for Uzbekistan, having won eight, drawn two and lost just one of their 11 meetings.
Their last meeting came in Seoul 18 months ago in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Akmal Shorakhmedov scored an own goal as South Korea grabbed a precious 1-0 win in their penultimate qualifier that saw them edge out the Uzbeks by a single goal for an automatic berth.
Kasimov was tempted to take a swipe at Saudi referee Fahad Almirdasi but could not be deflected from his opinion that lady luck had simply deserted his team on Thursday.
“The refereeing was not of top quality but our main problem today was not taking our chances. We were unlucky today,” he added.
“The Asian Cup is a great tournament but life continues and Uzbekistan will fight hard in the competitions to come against the best Asian teams.” (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)