Uzbekistan get European reinforcements for U23 Asian Cup against Vietnam

By Hieu Luong   April 22, 2024 | 06:10 pm PT
Uzbekistan have added star midfielder Abbosbek Fayzullaev and defender Abduqodir Khusanov to their roster before facing Vietnam in the final Group D game at the U23 Asian Cup.

Uzbekistan only used 21 players in their 2-0 win against Malaysia and their 5-0 shutout of Kuwait while waiting for the two star players to return from Europe.

On Sunday, the Uzbekistan Football Association confirmed that the stars' European clubs had agreed to release the players back to their national team after a long period of negotiation.

Brokering the deal had come close to ordeal status because U23 Asian Cup is not part of FIFA calendar.

However, after the agreement, Fayzullaev and Husanov joined the team in Qatar on Monday morning.

Fayzullaev is playing for CSKA Moscow in Russia. The midfielder, born in 2003, moved to Moscow in summer 2023 and quickly became a key player for the squad, playing 26 matches out of 33 since the beginning of the season, and scoring four goals.

Midfielder Abbosbek Fayzullaev plays for Uzbekistan at the 2023 Asian Cup. Photo by UFA

Midfielder Abbosbek Fayzullaev plays for Uzbekistan at the 2023 Asian Cup. Photo by UFA

Media often referred to Fayzullaev as the "Uzbek Messi."

At only 21 years old, he has already become a regular on the Uzbekistan national team, and was named the Best Uzbekistan Player in 2023.

Fayzullaev is also the most expensive player in Uzbekistan after Transfermarkt valued him at $5.4 million, equal to Eldor Shomurodov, the star striker of Cagliari in Italia’s Serie A.

Fayzullaev was on the Uzbekistan team that finished second at the 2022 U23 Asian Cup.

After that, he helped Uzbekistan win the 2023 U20 Asian Cup and was named Player of the Tournament. At the 2023 Asian Cup, he continued true to top form, scoring two of the team's seven goals. But that run ended for Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals when they lost to host Qatar in penalties.

Abduqodir Khusanov arrived at Qatars Hamad Airport on April 22, 2024. Photo by UFA

Abduqodir Khusanov arrives at Qatar's Hamad Airport on April 22, 2024. Photo by UFA

Meanwhile, Khusanov, born in 2004, is considered by Football Observatory to be one of the 20 best U20 defenders in the world. In 2022, he signed with Belarusian club Energetik-BGU Minsk, then joined Lens in France’s Ligue 1 for the summer 2023, playing nine games in the season.

The presence of Fayzullaev and Khusanov will strengthen Uzbekistan for the remainder of the U23 Asian Cup.

The team are first in Group D with six points, equal to Vietnam, they have a better goal difference. Since Uzbekistan have already secured a place in quarterfinals, coach Timur Kapadze left open the possibility of Fayzullaev and Khusanov playing in the final game against Vietnam on Tuesday.

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