Djeparov targets Cup breakthrough

Uzbekistan captain Server Djeparov says his side will not be satisfied with their showing at the AFC Asian Cup until they have reached the semi-finals for the first time in the country's history.

Djeparov starred in his team's 2-2 draw with China PR yesterday, teeing up Odil Akhmedov for Uzbekistan's opener and being named man of the match as the Central Asians secured the point they needed to top Group A. They will now face the Group B runners-up - either Japan, Jordan or Syria - for a place in the last four.

Uzbekistan have fallen in the last eight at the last two tournaments, losing on penalties to Bahrain in 2004 and falling 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in 2007.

"I think we have to qualify for the semi-finals this time," said Djeparov, a classy left-footed midfielder who plays for Korea Republic's FC Seoul. "Our plan is to go as far as the semis, that's the target of the team and that's my target.

Our plan is to go as far as the semis, that's the target of the team and that's my target.
Server Djeparov, Uzbekistan captain

"There are a lot of good teams in this tournament. South Korea, Australia and Japan have shown great performances in the group stages of this competition up until now."

Uzbek coach Vadim Abramov says his side fears no-one in the competition and Djeparov's midfield partner Azizbek Haydarov said the team was gaining confidence with every match.

"We're into the quarter-finals and we have shown by our performances that we can play against any team in this championship," Haydarov told the Asian Football Confederation website.

"The Uzbekistan national team is improving from game to game. We are going in the right direction. Our youth national team qualified for the youth World Cup final stages and we're playing well at this Asian Cup."