'Uzbek Messi' to miss Vietnam clash in U23 Asian Cup

By Hieu Luong   April 5, 2024 | 03:06 pm PT
Uzbekistan will not have their number one star Abbosbek Fayzullaev for the 2024 U23 Asian Cup because Russian club CSKA Moscow will not release him for this tournament.
Fayzullaev celebrates the goal that sealed Uzbekistans 2-1 victory over Thailand, in the round of 16 in the 2023 Asian Cup on Jan. 30, 2024. Photo by UFA

Fayzullaev celebrates the goal that sealed Uzbekistan's 2-1 victory over Thailand, in the round of 16 in the 2023 Asian Cup on Jan. 30, 2024. Photo by UFA

Uzbekistan, who are in the same group with Vietnam at the 2024 U23 Asian Cup, tried to convince CSKA Moscow to release Fayzullaev but failed because the tournament is not on the FIFA calendar.

Fayzullaev has just moved to the Russian club in the summer of 2023, but quickly became a mainstay, playing 21 matches of the team's total of 28 since the beginning of the season.

The media referred to Fayzullaev as "Uzbek Messi."

The 21-year-old has taken a key role in the Uzbekistan national team and was voted the Best Player of Uzbekistan in 2023.

Fayzullaev is also the most expensive player in Uzbekistan, valued at about $5.4 million, according to football site Transfermakt, equal to Eldor Shomurodov, the star striker playing for Cagliari in Italia’s Serie A.

Fayzullaev was part of the Uzbekistan squad that finished second at the 2022 U23 Asian Cup. After that, he helped Uzbekistan win the 2023 U230 Asian Cup and was voted Player of the Tournament.

At the 2023 Asian Cup, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder continued to perform well, scoring two of the team's seven goals, before exiting the tournament in the quarterfinals against host Qatar after a 3-2 penalty shootout defeat.

Coach Timur Kapadze regrets the absence of Fayzullaev but is still determined to achieve good results with the team at the U23 Asian Cup and qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In addition to Fayzullaev, Uzbekistan also lost defender Abdukodir Khusanov of Ligue 1 club Lens and striker Khojimat Erkinov of UAE club Al Wahda.

Uzbekistan finalized the list of 26 players on Tuesday, of which only midfielder Emarali Rakhmonaliev is playing abroad for Russian club Rubin Kazan while the rest play domestically.

On Saturday, the team will move to the UAE for training, get used to the weather and then play a friendly match with China on April 10.

Uzbekistan are in group D of U23 Asian Cup, playing Malaysia on April 17, Kuwait on the 20th and Vietnam on the 23rd.

They are considered the strongest team in the group and has the highest chance of advancing to the quarterfinals.

Uzbekistan's best result at U23 Asian Cup was in 2018 where they beat Vietnam 2-1 in the final to claim the title, and as runner-up in the 2022 edition.

However, both of these tournaments were not Olympic qualifiers. In the 2020 edition, Uzbekistan was close to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, but missed out by losing 1-0 to Australia in the third-place playoff.

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